Tough California Criminal Defense Lawyers Ready to Fight for You
Both the State of California and the federal government have statutes outlawing the possession, manufacture, and trafficking of a wide range of drugs, narcotics, and other illegal substances. People who are accused of violating these laws may face serious penalties, including imprisonment, fines, probation, and other negative consequences of a criminal record, such as difficulty finding employment. While many laws focus on illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin, there can also be stiff penalties for crimes pertaining to medications that can be legally prescribed by a physician. The Irvine prescription drug crimes attorneys at the Law Office of Pilchman & Kay, A Professional Law Corporation, are available to assist people who find themselves in this challenging situation.
Schedule a free consultation when you call (949) 558-0042 or contact us online.
Prescription Drug Charges Under California Law
Prescription drugs are considered to be controlled substances. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies drugs, substances, and chemicals used to manufacture drugs into schedules.
These schedules include:
- Schedule I drugs are those that have no currently accepted medical use, such as LSD, heroin, and ecstasy.
- Schedule II includes drugs with a high potential for abuse, such as meth, oxycodone, and Ritalin.
- Schedules III, IV, and V drugs are those with a lower potential for abuse, ranging from anabolic steroids to cough medications containing codeine.
Even substances not listed on the schedules can lead to criminal prosecution in some circumstances.
How the State will Prove Your Charges
Possession of a controlled substance, including prescription drugs obtained illegally, is a crime under California law. The State has the burden of proof in a criminal case and must prove each element of the crime of which the defendant is accused beyond a reasonable doubt.
For a defendant to be convicted of possession of a controlled substance, the State must prove:
- That the defendant possessed the drug illegally
- That the defendant had knowledge of the presence of the drug and the fact that it was a controlled substance
- That the defendant possessed a usable amount of the substance
Possession may be actual or constructive, which means the defendant had the right to control the substance although it was not in his or her actual possession.
Understanding California Health & Safety Code § 11173
The law makes it a crime to obtain prescription drugs by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, subterfuge, concealment, impersonation, or forgery. Other statutes outlaw the unlawful possession, sale, trafficking, manufacturing or distribution of prescription drugs and other controlled substances. A violation of these statutes may result in either a felony conviction, which results in more than a year of imprisonment or a misdemeanor conviction, which results in up to one year of jail time, depending on the circumstances. There may be possible sentence enhancements if children were present during the commission of the crime or if the defendant has previous drug convictions.
Liability of Medical Professionals
Medical professionals also may be held criminally responsible for certain prescription drug offenses. Under California Health & Safety Code § 11153, both physicians and pharmacists can potentially be prosecuted for the prescribing or dispensing of controlled substances for reasons other than a legitimate medical purpose in the usual course of their practice. A doctor or pharmacist who knowingly violates § 11153 can face up to a year in county jail and a fine of up to $20,000.
Defenses Against Prescription Drug Charges
A skilled criminal defense attorney can help a person accused of a prescription drug charge determine possible defenses, including possible illegalities or irregularities in the execution of a search warrant or arrest. There may also be the possibility of diversion in some cases, such as those involving simple possession. For manufacturing charges, it may be possible to defend a case by showing that the defendant was engaged only in the mere preparation to manufacture, rather than the actual manufacturing of the substance.
Protect Your Rights with Our Irvine Prescription Drug Crimes Attorney
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, you need dependable legal advice. Our Irvine prescription drug crimes lawyers at the Law Office of Pilchman & Kay, A Professional Law Corporation, can help you understand the allegations that have been brought against you, the sentencing range you are facing if you are convicted, and the defenses that you may be able to assert. Our skilled criminal defense lawyers represent people throughout Orange County and other nearby areas.
You can reach us by calling (949) 558-0042 or completing our online form for a free consultation.