When the “War on Drugs” began decades ago, the primary focus was illicit or “street” drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Over time, that focus shifted to include, and even prioritize, prescription drug criminal offenses. Many medications that can be legally prescribed, distributed, and used are also frequently bought and sold illegally. Consequently, law enforcement agencies and prosecuting attorneys now target prescription drug crimes with great frequency. With that in mind, a Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby explains what you should know about prescription drug crimes in Tennessee.
What Prescription Drugs Are Illegal?
Some prescription medications are classified as a “controlled substance.” These are medications that tend to have a moderate to high likelihood of addiction or abuse. While these medications on their own are not illegal, they are highly regulated. Examples of prescription medications that are classified as a controlled substance include:
- Opioids. Opioids are painkillers and include medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone (Percocet, Norco)
- Sedatives and anxiety medications. These help a patient sleep and/or control anxiety and include medications such as Xanax, Valium, and Ambien.
- Stimulants and amphetamines. These are commonly prescribed to help patients who have ADHD and similar disorders and include medications such as Adderall, Ritalin, and Dexedrine.
What Are Some Prescription Drug Crimes in Tennessee?
While it can be perfectly legal for a properly licenses doctor to prescribe a controlled substance, for a pharmacist to dispense a controlled substance, and for a patient to possess a controlled substance, it can also be illegal to sell, distribute, or possess a controlled substance without abiding by all applicable laws and regulations. If you are found guilty of a prescription drug crime you could face a lengthy prison sentence. In Tennessee, some of the most common prescription drug crimes include:
- Simple possession. Tennessee Code § 39-17-418 makes it illegal “to knowingly possess or casually exchange a controlled substance, unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of professional practice.” Simply having a single prescription pain pill in your possession, without a valid prescription, could lead to being charged with Class A misdemeanor (or higher) for possession of a controlled substance, punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail.
- Sale or possession with intent. These include a variety of criminal offenses that involve the direct sale of a controlled substance or the possession of a sufficient quantity of a controlled substance to imply an intent to sell the drugs. Depending on the type of controlled substance involved and the amount, you could be charged with anything from a Class E felony to a Class A felony. If convicted, you face a potential term of imprisonment of one year to 30 years or more.
- Drug manufacturing. In today’s day and age, it is becoming more common to find counterfeit prescription drugs on the streets. Tennessee Code § 39-17-418 makes it a crime to manufacture, deliver, or sell, a controlled substance without the proper authority. This covers both the sale of legitimately prescribed controlled substances that are later sold on the street and counterfeit pills that are manufactured and sold. As with possession with intent to sell, you may be charged with a Class A-E felony and sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence if convicted of prescription drug manufacturing in Tennessee.
If you are facing prescription drug charges in Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately because there are several defenses that may be able to help you avoid a conviction.
Contact a Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have additional questions or concerns about prescription drug criminal offenses in Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.
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