Here’s What to Know
Prescription drugs are often thought as safer since a physician has approved of them and they are legal. And while there is some reason to this, this does not hold true when someone is in possession of a prescription drug that was not prescribed to him or her, but to another person. In fact, possession of another person’s prescription drugs can result in a felony.
In Arizona, the penalty for drug possession is dependent upon a couple of different factors such as the type of drug, the amount of drug found on a person, and the past criminal history of the individual in possession. There are many charges that can be thrown at someone in possession of prescription-only drugs. They include:
- Unlawful possession of a prescription-only drug
In order for someone to be convicted of unlawful possession of a prescription drug, the state must prove that they knowingly possessed the prescription-only drug that belongs to another person. In other words, the state must prove that the accused knowingly possessed the prescription-only drug and that he or she knew it was a prescription-only drug.
This charge is a misdemeanor, which may result in up to six months in jail, up to three years on probation, and up to $2,500 in fines plus surcharges.
- Possession of a dangerous drug.
A “dangerous drug” is any narcotic aside from marijuana. This includes prescription drugs such as Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin, and benzodiazepines. Proving possession of a dangerous drug is the same as proving unlawful possession of a prescription-only drug except that the associated penalties are significantly higher. Possession of a dangerous drug is a class 4 felony punishable on a first offence it can be punishable up to 3.75 years in prison.
Although it is a class 4 felony, with the right criminal representation if is a first offence or a second offense, drug offenders can be sentenced to probation, drug treatment, community service, and fines.
- Drug Trafficking (Possession of drugs for sale or transport of drugs for sale)
Drug trafficking is one of the most serious drug charges and as such are considered class 2 felony. Such a charge does not require proof that sales were occurring – only that a certain amount of prescription drugs are found. If defendants are found to be in possession of a certain amount of drugs, they are presumed to be selling them.
Those convicted of drug trafficking may be sentence up to 12.5 years in prison for a first time offender and up to 35 years in prison for a repeat offender. These individuals are not eligible for parole.
If a first-time offender is found with less that the amount necessary for presumption of sale, he or she is eligible for a 240-day parole sentence.
There are a few defenses to prescription drug charges. These include:
- Issues regarding possession (the defendant must have known that he or she was in possession of the drugs)
- Issues regarding whether it is a prescription drug (this requires an unbroken chain of custody from the time of seizure to the time of testing)
- Constitutional challenges (e.g. Miranda rights violations, illegal searches and seizures, involuntary confessions, denial of right of counsel)
The Attorneys at Arizona Lawyers Help Those in AZ Who Have Been Charged with Possessing Another’s Prescription Drugs
If you or a loved one has been convicted of the possession of a prescription drug of another, it can have tremendous life-long effects. At Arizona Lawyers, we will fight to get your charges reduced or even dismissed. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact Arizona Lawyers at 602-833-5376 today!