Abuse of Prescription Drugs

Utah continues to make headlines for its high population of prescription drug users, which results in a lot of overdoses, abuse, and metabolite DUIs, as well as increased illegally obtained and distributed prescription drugs. Reports claim that Utahns are prescribed more antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and pain killers than in most other states. Certainly drug dependency is a real problem. Schatz, Anderson & Associates can help people with drug problems find the help they need. Having dealt with many court-ordered treatment programs, we can recommend a facility or program for you or your loved one.

Oxycodone is the generic name for a range of opioid pain killing tablets susceptible for abuse of prescription medications. Prescription bottle for Oxycodone tablets and pills likely used for sharing medications and abuse of prescriptions drugs.
What Are Abuse of Prescription Drug Charges?

What Are Abuse of Prescription Drug Charges?

You can be charged with abuse of prescription drugs if you are found in the possession or under the influence of a controlled substance that is not legal for you to use. A controlled substance is any drug that is illegal for sale without a prescription from a physician. The exact charge you face will depend on the circumstances.

Possession of a Controlled Substance

You can face possession of controlled substance charges if law enforcement finds a prescription drug on you physically or in a place you have control over, such as your backpack, car, or home.

Intent to Distribute

A far more serious charge than possession is intent to distribute. Prosecutors may pursue this charge if they judge that the quantity of prescription medication is too high for personal use. They may also use evidence such as a large amount of cash, packaging materials, and customer lists also found in your possession.

Sharing Meds

Another common problem in Utah is sharing or stealing prescribed medications. Routinely prescribed pain medications such as Percocet (aka Oxycodone and Acetaminophen), Demerol (aka Meperidine), Codeine, and even prescription-level Ibuprofen can cause serious, even life-threatening issues when taken by the wrong person or in the wrong way. Most people keep their medications in a place that is easy for family members and guests to access.

Metabolite DUI

Many people do not realize that their prescription drugs can render them impaired. This may be the case if you do not take your prescribed medications as directed or you combine the medication with another substance, such as alcohol. This can result in a metabolite DUI, also called a drug DUI.

Being arrested for a DUI simply for taking your prescribed medications can really be a shock. We’ve seen it many times, particularly over the last few years, since local law enforcement is becoming more aware of the prevalence of the problem in Utah. In addition, with the legalization of marijuana in several states, Utah is seeing many metabolite DUIs relating to the ingestion of marijuana.

Penalties for Controlled Substance Charges

man in handcuffs for prescription drug abuse in utah
Penalties for Controlled Substance Charges

One consequence of controlled substance charges is incarceration. The amount of jail or prison time you could receive will depend on whether you are facing a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanors can result in a maximum of 1 year of jail time whereas felonies can lead to up to 15 years in prison.

Other potential consequences include:

Fines — A misdemeanor can come with a fine as low as $100, but a first- or second-degree felony can carry a fine as high as $10,000 in Utah.

Rehabilitation — You may be able to receive rehabilitation or spend a period in a drug treatment program instead of serving jail time.

Suspension of your driver’s license — If you’re convicted of any of the above charges (not just a metabolite DUI), you could lose your Utah driver’s license. If you have an out-of-state license, the court can suspend your privilege to drive in the state. This can have a major impact on your life—and it is one of the reasons why it’s essential to receive representation from a prescription drug abuse attorney.

Criminal record — If you gain a criminal record from your charges, you may suffer into the long term—you have to wait years until you can seal a criminal record in Utah. For instance, you may have fewer job opportunities or housing options. A criminal record could also impact your eligibility to receive a loan or scholarship for school.

Probation — In the case you are charged with the possession of a controlled substance, you may receive a probation sentence. This can be after jail time or rehabilitation. You’ll need to report to a probation office and meet other requirements, such as refraining from using the prescription medication.

Diversion — First-time offenders may be able to have charges dropped if they agree to complete a counseling or behavior modification program. Diversion is often at least six months.

Is It Worth It To Get A Substance Abuse Defense Lawyer?

A prescription drug abuse attorney will often be able to reduce your charges or even have your charges dismissed entirely. For instance, in the case of possession charges, the prosecutor must prove that you knowingly had control of the drug in order to convict you. The best substance abuse lawyers know the tactics to shed doubt on your case.

At Schatz, Anderson & Associates, we have represented many cases of controlled substance charges and other drug-related crimes. With many of our clients, we have managed to have the evidence thrown out because the police search took place without a warranty or without probable cause. In other situations, we have successfully had cases dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge because the client was a first-time offender. We have even prevented the deportation of non-citizens.

Drug dependency is also a real problem. At Schatz, Anderson & Associates, we assist people with drug problems find the help they need. We have experience dealing with many court-ordered treatment programs and can recommend a facility or program for you or your loved one.

Let Schatz Anderson craft a defense against your prescription drug charge. Contact us today and our substance abuse lawyers will start building your case. Remember to also ask us about recommendations for rehabilitation facilities and programs.

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