It’s common knowledge that possession of an unlawful controlled substance is a crime in the state of California. However, were you aware that possession of certain prescription drugs could result in criminal charges? It’s true, according to the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. While illicit street drugs such as heroin are on the list, so are common prescription medications such as Adderall, Vicodin, or Xanax.
Unlawful possession or sale of a prescription drug is a serious crime that carries heavy penalties. The offense is considered a “wobbler,” meaning you could be facing a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances. If you or someone you know has been charged with unlawful possession, sale, or manufacturing of a prescription drug, it’s highly recommended you seek legal counsel as soon as possible.
Prescription Drug Defense Lawyer in Ventura County, CA
Prescription drugs are incredibly important to everyday Americans. It’s been recorded that more than 161 million people, which is 66 percent of all adults in the U.S., are on some type of prescription drug they must take daily. Unfortunately, law enforcement does still arrest innocent persons in possession of their prescriptions for a variety of reasons. If you or someone you know has been charged with a prescription drug-related crime, call Jay Leiderman Law.
Jay Leiderman of Jay Leiderman Law has two decades of experience representing people accused of all sorts of drug crimes including possession, possession with intent to sell, selling or manufacture, and allegations of “doctor shopping.” His skills and extensive resources may give you the advantage you need to achieve reduced or dismissed charges. Call Jay Leiderman Law today at (805) 654-0200 to set up your first consultation free of charge.
Jay Leiderman Law accepts clients throughout the greater Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, and Van Nuys area.
- Possession of Prescription Drugs in CA
- Examples of Prescription Drugs
- Punishment for Unlawful Prescription Drug Possession
- Penalties for Selling Prescription Drugs
- What is Prescription Shopping?
- Additional Resources
Possession of Prescription Drugs in California
The state of California prohibits unlawful possession of a controlled substance, even if it’s a medication. Under the Health and Safety Code 11350, the state forbids residents or visitors from possessing certain controlled substances without a valid prescription signed by a doctor. The prosecution will have to prove five elements to convict a person of drug possession. These elements include the following:
- The person accused was in possession of a controlled substance
- They did not have a valid prescription for said substance
- They were aware of what the substance was
- They knew the substance was nearby or in the vicinity
- There was a usable amount of the controlled substance in their possession
It’s important to know that you don’t have to actually hold or be near the substance to be charged with possession. If the substance is on you, then law enforcement will charge you with actual possession. However, if you’re not physically near the substance but have total control over it, then you’re in constructive possession.
For example, if you locked up a controlled substance in a storage unit and it was found by law enforcement to be in your name, then you would be charged. Even though the drugs were not on your person, you would still be charged because the storage unit was under your name and total control. So, that would mean you’re automatically in constructive possession of a controlled substance.
Examples of Prescription Drugs Seized for Possession
Although prescription drugs are designed to heal the body, some use these substances for recreational purposes. Others may sell prescription drugs in hopes of making a profit. The following are some common examples of prescription drugs seized by law enforcement for unlawful possession, possession with intent, or sale.
Possession of a Prescription Drug Not Prescribed to You
The penalties for possessing a prescription drug unlawfully will depend on the facts of the case. Drug possession in California is either a misdemeanor or felony and that decision is based on the prosecutor’s discretion. If charged with misdemeanor drug possession, a person may face the following maximum penalties:
- Up to one year in jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
Under certain circumstances, a drug possession offense can result in a felony. Usually, a drug possession crime will be elevated to a felony classification if the defendant had a prior history of serious felonies or sex crimes. If convicted of felony drug possession, the defendant may face a maximum of up to three years in prison.
What is the Penalty of Selling Prescription Drugs in California?
Unlawful sale of a prescription drug will land you in even hotter water than just possession. California’s Health and Safety Code 11352 states a person is guilty of selling a prescription drug if they do any of the following:
- Knew of the substance’s presence, nature, and still did one of the following with a “usable amount” of said prescription drug:
- Furnished it by any means sale or otherwise
- Gave it to someone else
- Imported into the state of California
- Sold it to another person
- Transported it somewhere else to sell it
- Administered it for another person
- Or offered to do any of the acts described above
Selling prescription drugs unlawfully is automatically classified as a felony under California law. The maximum sentence a person may face for selling prescription drugs includes:
- Up to 3, 4, or 5 years served in jail
- Felony or formal probation
- A fine of up to $20,000
If you transported the substance across two or more county lines, then your prison sentence will be enhanced to up to 3, 6, or 9 years.
What is Considered Dr. Shopping in California?
Prescription drug fraud can be committed by both healthcare professionals and patients. One of the most common forms of prescription fraud is referred to as “doctor shopping” or “prescription shopping” and is defined under Health & Safety Code 11173. The statute states a person is guilty of doctor shopping if they:
- Obtain, attempt to obtain, receive a prescription of or administration of, or attempted to receive a prescription of or administration of, a controlled substance; and
- The defendant achieved this by using misrepresentation, fraud, deceit or subterfuge. They could also be guilty of doctor shopping by using concealment of material fact.
Doctor shopping can be committed using various methods. For example, imagine a scenario where a man is addicted to Vicodin after long-term use, but doesn’t have a prescription. He convinces his girlfriend to pretend to have chronic back pain so she can lawfully obtain a Vicodin prescription. If she gives it to him, both of them would be guilty of doctor shopping.
Doctor shopping is considered a “wobbler” offense under California code. That means prosecutors reserve the right to charge the crime as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances. These decisions are usually based off the nature of the allegations as well as the defendant’s past criminal history.
A misdemeanor doctor shopping offense will result in up to:
- One year in county jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Misdemeanor probation
Felony prescription fraud committed by an individual carries the following penalties:
- Up to 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in county jail
- A fine of up to $20,000
- Felony probation
Drug Possession Laws in California – Visit the official website on California’s Legislative Information to read their Health and Safety Code regarding prescription drugs. Access the site to learn the elements of drug possession, penalties for committing it, and more.
How to Get the Medicine You Need – Visit the official website for California’s Department of Managed Healthcare (DMHC) to learn more about how you can get the prescription you need and what coverage is appropriate. Access the site to find resources, helpful hints, and links to other helpful information regarding healthcare in California.
Drug Defense Lawyer for Prescription Drugs in Ventura County, CA
If your or someone you know has been arrested for a prescription drug related offense, call the criminal defense lawyer Jay Leiderman at Jay Leiderman Law. With two decades of experience under his belt, attorney Leiderman has the right background to defend your case. He can apply his knowledge and build a formidable defense against your charges. Call Jay Leiderman Law today to start working on your defense plan as soon as possible.
Call Jay Leiderman Law today at (805) 654-0200. Jay Leiderman Law accepts clients throughout Ventura County and Santa Barbara County including Ventura, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Solvang, Santa Maria, Lompoc, Carpinteria, Isla Vista, Buellton, Summerland, Oxnard, Simi Valley, Fillmore, Oak Park, Moorpark, Santa Paula, El Rio, Oak View and Thousand Oaks.