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Why prescription medication can lead to criminal charges

On Behalf of | Sep 19, 2022 | Drug Violations |

People tend to assume that those accused of drug-related criminal offenses have a substance abuse problem involving a prohibited or banned substance. Heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine could easily lead to drug charges if someone gets caught while in possession of or under the influence of those drugs.

However, many addictions actually involve prescription medication. Just because you can receive a medication from a pharmacy with a valid prescription does not automatically make those drugs legal to use or possess. In fact, a prior prescription for certain substances might actually be a warning sign that you are at risk of charges related to controlled substances later.

A surprising percentage of Americans abuse prescription drugs

When looking at people’s self-reported rate of drug abuse, national researchers found that controlled or prescription medication is a serious health concern in the United States. Researchers estimate that 5.8% of Americans have likely misused prescription medication in the last year.

In fact, the true figure may likely be higher, as people tend not to admit wrongdoing even in supposedly anonymous settings. In other words, more than one in 20 Americans may struggle with misusing prescription medications like pain relievers or benzodiazepines each year.

As a result, a significant amount of enforcement effort focuses on prescription medications, especially medications with a strong association with substance abuse like narcotic pain relievers. Having an old prescription that your physician will no longer refill won’t serve as a defense against such charges.

Only those with a current prescription using medication dispensed by a pharmacist have the legal right to possess controlled substances. If you get arrested with medication you purchased from someone else or received from a family member who no longer needed their prescription, you could face incarceration and numerous other penalties.

Defense strategies vary based on circumstances

For some people, adjudication in the drug courts could be an option if they find themselves accused of breaking controlled substance laws. For others, challenging a traffic stop or questioning the chemical evidence gathered by the police could be the best strategy.

Reviewing the evidence against you and learning more about controlled substance laws in Hawaii can help you when you find yourself facing drug charges because of prescription medication.