Prescription drug abuse and addiction have become an epidemic in the United States.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 90 people die each day from an overdose of drugs in the opioid family, which includes prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone and Vicodin, fentanyl, and heroin. Now that federal and state governments are paying more attention to the opioid crisis, convictions for crimes involving prescription drugs can carry severe penalties.
The following are the common prescription drug crimes in California:
- Possession – Having prescription drugs on your person that are not legally prescribed is a criminal offense. It is also illegal to possess more of the drug than allowed under the prescription, possess more than one prescription of the same drug, or possess another person's prescription. If convicted, you could face up to one year in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
- Possession with intent to sell – California law prohibits the sale or transportation of controlled substances. You could face these charges if you had large quantities of the prescription drug, you possessed packaging materials, and you had large quantities of cash. Possession with intent to sell is considered a felony, punishable by a maximum prison sentence of four years and a fine of up to $20,000.
- Driving under the influence – It is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Prescription drugs are known to impair a person's ability to operate a motor vehicle in a manner that an ordinarily cautious individual would. A first offense is punishable by up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
- Fraud – Prescription drug fraud is known as “doctor shopping.” Individuals can be charged with this offense if they obtain or attempt to obtain a prescription drug from a healthcare provider through either fraud, misrepresentation, or deceit. At the prosecution's discretion, this criminal offense can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.