Can I Be Arrested for Trafficking If I Have a Prescription?

Although the “War on Drugs” has been underway in the United States since the 1970s, it has taken a new turn in the last decade. Originally, the focus of the War on Drugs was on street drugs such as cocaine and heroin. While those drugs remain an issue in the U.S., efforts by law enforcement agencies and prosecutors across the country have been focused on prescription drugs in recent years. While it is certainly not illegal to possess a controlled substance for which you have a valid prescription you can be arrested and charged with a crime if you sell or give your prescription drugs to someone else. A common question we are asked is “Can I be arrested for trafficking if I have a prescription?” The answer is that it is possible to be arrested for trafficking or other related offenses even though you have a valid prescription.

Over the last decade or so the United States has faced a growing problem relating to the use of prescription drugs, particularly prescription pain medications. Sufferers of chronic pain are typically prescribed strong pain killers to control their chronic pain. Unfortunately, some patients either abuse their prescription pain medication or outright sell it on the streets to make money. This has created a serious problem for law enforcement and the judicial system in general. Part of the solution has been to increase penalties for crimes including the sale, delivery, or transportation of controlled substances such as opioid pain medications. If you have a valid prescription for pain medication, or any other controlled substance, you must be very careful how you handle your medication or risk being charged with serious felony offenses.

Tennessee Code Section 39-17-417 et seq. makes it illegal to manufacture, deliver, sell, or possess with the intent to manufacture, deliver, or sell the controlled substance. Note that it does not make possession of a controlled substance illegal unless that possession is with the intent to manufacture, deliver, or sell the controlled substance. It is also important to note that the statute includes the delivery of a controlled substance. Gone are the days when it was no big deal to give a friend one of your pain pills because he/she hurt her back and didn’t want to waste time going to the doctor. Now, that simple act of compassion could result in being charged with a serious felony. In short, having a prescription for a controlled substance only protects you if you are in possession of your own medication in the quantity prescribed to you. The moment you give, sell, or otherwise deliver any of that medication to anyone else you risk being charged with a felony.

If you have been charged with a controlled substance offense in Tennessee you should consult with the experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby right away. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.
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Stan Bennett
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