Prescription drug addiction and abuse have been an issue debated nationally for over a decade now. In recent years, opioid abuse has been a prevalent issue in the United States. This includes the state of Florida and all of the counties encompassed therein. This year alone, opioid abuse will be responsible for thousands of deaths in Florida. However, it isn’t only opioids that are frequently at the heart of illegal activity. Other prescription painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants are actively being abused and used recreationally by thousands of people. Due to this, Florida officials have been aggressively prosecuting numerous suspected criminals on alleged charges of illegal drug-related activities.
Anyone who is in danger of being charged with prescription drug fraud should seek to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Seeking legal representation can help you preserve your rights and freedoms more effectively. At Joffe Law, P.A., our attorneys have years of experience defending the rights of clients living in Florida who have been brought to trial over allegations of prescription drug fraud. Our lawyers have defended multiple cases at both federal and state levels. If you believe that you may face allegations of prescription drug fraud or other criminal prescription drug-related activities, there are a few things you’ll need to know.
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
What pharmaceutical drugs are illegal to possess without a prescription?
Knowing which pharmaceutical drugs are illegal to possess without a legally-obtained prescription is important. Each drug has well-defined laws surrounding its uses, the amount an individual may have in their possession, and the criminal charges that follow any illegal use. The following drugs are a few of the most commonly abused drugs that are illegal to have in your possession without a legitimate legal prescription written by a verifiable medical practitioner.
Each of these drugs falls into a scheduled class. The scheduled class of a drug will determine the penalties and possible charges leveled against perpetrators if they have been found to be in the possession of pharmaceutical drugs illegally. The scheduled classes of commonly abuse pharmaceutical drugs are as follows:
Drugs in the Schedule V class are drugs with the least potential for abuse that are still considered illegal to possess in some situations. These drugs include cough syrups containing codeine, antitussive drugs, and analgesic drugs such as:
Schedule IV substances have a fairly low potential for abuse or dependence in most circumstances. A few examples of Schedule IV substances are:
Schedule III drugs have moderate potential for abuse or illegal use. Illegal activity surrounding these substances carries more severe penalties than substances in the class IV category. A few drugs in this class include:
- Anabolic steroids
- Tylenol with codeine
This class includes pharmaceutical drugs with a high risk of abuse or dependence. The illegal possession, use, or distribution of any of these drugs may be accompanied by severe penalties if convictions take place. The commonly abused pharmaceutical drugs in this class are:
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin)
What acts are considered to be prescription drug crimes?
A wide range of activities may be considered to be prescription drug crimes. Prescription drug crimes may be committed either knowingly or unknowingly. If you have been accused of any prescription drug crime, whether at a federal or state level, seeking legal aid is the best way to reduce, prevent, or eliminate charges. The most common crimes surrounding the prescription drugs include:
- prescription fraud
- doctor shopping to obtain prescription drugs
- possession of regulated prescription substances
- sales of the dealing of controlled substances
- distribution of illegal substances
- trafficking of drugs or substances
How is this type of federal crime defined?
Prescription drug fraud constitutes an act of illegal acquisition of controlled pharmaceutical substances. The acquisition of substances may be for personal recreational use, financial gain, or to illicit profit in another way. Prescription drug fraud may take place in many different ways. For example, going to several doctors in order to obtain multiple prescriptions in different quantities constitutes a prescription drug fraud charge. Additionally, illegally obtaining a prescription pad to create prescriptions for profit or for personal or recreational use is also considered to be a prescription drug fraud charge. Essentially, any activity done to obtain regulated pharmaceutical substances illegally may carry charges of prescription drug fraud.
Is prescription drug fraud a federal crime?
Prescription drug fraud cases can be prosecuted at both state and federal levels. The severity of the alleged crime and circumstances surrounding each situation will factor into the determination of the judicial level at which a crime may be prosecuted. State crimes are serious and can carry fines, penalties, jail time, and more. However, federal crimes should be taken even more seriously. Committing a federal crime can mean stiff penalties such as lengthy prison sentences, high fines, and other consequences that may permanently impact the life of a convicted individual. When a crime is prosecuted at both state and federal levels, the accused are not immune to double jeopardy. This means that one count of a federal prescription drug charge may also count as a state charge. Multiple counts for the same crime can lead to even longer sentences and higher fines. If trafficking is suspected for any reason, the DEA, a federal agency may become involved. This is why having an experienced federal criminal defense attorney is so essential. An experienced federal defense lawyer will be able to help you protect your rights in both state and federal courtrooms. Federal prescription drug fraud charges usually happen when an individual’s illegal activities are connected to larger criminal organizations. This can mean that a crime that would usually be handled at a state level may escalate into a federal case without the alleged defendant even knowing initially.
Are there any defenses for prescription drug fraud?
In some cases, the accused are unaware that they have even committed a crime. For instance, receiving a prescription from an unlicensed medical professional may result in charges of prescription fraud. If the accused had no idea a doctor was illegally prescribing medication, they may be able to reduce or eliminate charges with proper legal representation. Alternatively, a defendant who has been coerced by federal agents into admitting to crimes that they did not commit may have a number of possible defenses. Remember, everything you say to a law enforcement agent or official can and will be used against you in court. Asking for a lawyer does not mean that you are guilty. For that reason, contacting an experienced criminal drug fraud defense lawyer immediately is your best option. If you find yourself facing allegations of prescription drug fraud, there are ways that Joffe Law, P.A. can help. Remaining silent and requesting legal representation, especially in federal cases, may well be your best first line of defense.
Experienced federal criminal defense attorneys who can help
If you’re living in or around Hillsborough County, Florida and have been accused of or believe that you might be accused of violating Florida’s prescription drug laws, it’s probably time to seek legal counsel. Don’t hesitate. The sooner that you obtain legal representation, the better the outcome of your case will be. Joffe Law, P.A. has decades of experience defending the rights of Tampa residents. Our expert staff team of lawyers knows that each case of federal prescription drug abuse is unique demands attentiveness and care. Remember, the sooner you have an attorney on retainer, the more likely you will be to have a positive outcome in your case.
Prescription drug fraud
Prescription drug fraud can be prosecuted at both federal and state levels, depending on the circumstances surrounding a case. Federal prescription drug charges involve the unlawful use, gain, or distribution of controlled substances in the United States. Essentially all prescription drugs are classified as controlled substances. Controlled substances are defined as illegal substances that may have detrimental effects on a person’s physical or mental health if used incorrectly. Federal and state governments both regulate the distribution of controlled substances and thus, prescription drug fraud may be prosecuted at federal and state levels simultaneously. This can lead to higher fines, more charges, and longer prison sentences. Prescription drug fraud involves the intentional misrepresentation of your symptoms to a doctor or pharmacist in order to obtain controlled substances. It also can involve the distribution of prescription substances illegally or fraudulently. Since prescription drugs and controlled substances, they are listed and classified in the schedules of the Controlled Substances Act passed in 1970. There are five different schedule categories in this act. Understanding the different scheduling classes can help you figure out how severe the charges you may be facing are or might be.
- Schedule I: These are substances that have no medical use and are considered extremely unsafe. No schedule I drugs fall into the category eligible for prescription drug fraud, though all schedule I drugs carry stiff criminal penalties. This class includes LSD, ecstasy, heroin, and other street drugs. If you have been found in possession of any schedule I substances, you will likely be subject to criminal prosecution.
- Schedule II: This is the most common category of drug that has stiff penalties associated with federal prescription drug fraud. This scheduling class includes narcotics such as methadone, morphine, hydrocodone, Demerol, OxyContin, and other dangerous prescription-only substances. These are the most powerful and dangerous prescription drugs available and being found in possession of any of them illegally can lead to serious legal consequences.
- Schedule III: Another category with many prescription drugs included in it, this class includes a variety of dangerous substances that aren’t quite as powerful as the schedule II drugs. This class includes drugs like codeine, anabolic steroids, ketamine, and other less dangerous substances that aren’t quite as problematic as schedule II drugs but still are powerful enough to become addictive.
- Schedule IV: This class includes drugs with less potential for abuse such as Klonopin, Valium, Ativan, and the like. Schedule IV class drugs are less severely penalized than schedule class III drugs.
- Schedule V: This is the least severe schedule class, this category includes cough syrups with codeine, small quantities of weaker narcotics, or large amounts of OTC medication that you may possess suspiciously.
Drug trafficking is responsible for almost one-third of all illegal drug charges. Drug trafficking is also referred to as distribution and can be prosecuted at both state and federal levels by state agencies or the DEA. Drug trafficking is the illegal transportation, sale, importation, or unlawful division of controlled substances. The scheduled class and amount of the controlled substance involved in a drug distribution case will impact the severity of possible charges. For instance, if you were found to be illegally carrying anabolic steroids in separate packages as you traveled on a bus, your charges would probably be less severe than if you were found to be carrying small bags of cocaine as you attempted to board a plane. The situational circumstances have a large impact on what the outcome of your case will be. For that reason, having an experienced drug defense attorney on retainer is imperative.
Drug manufacturing is a very serious charge and can have stiff penalties. Drug manufacturing is often prosecuted in federal court. Depending on the situation, it is usually an imprisonable offense. Under both federal and state drug laws in Florida, the United States government can charge any person with a drug manufacturing charge if they are found to be involved in any form of the manufacturing of any controlled substance. This doesn’t just mean that you will get a drug manufacturing charge if you yourself are actively manufacturing controlled substances. Bystanders and unlucky or unwilling participants who are found in areas where drugs are being manufactured may also be charged with counts of drug manufacturing. This means that if you are found in any unlicensed marijuana grow house, you may be charged with drug manufacturing if you don’t handle the situation properly. Drug manufacturing laws can be a bit murky and have many different implications. For that reason, if you are accused of drug manufacturing, stay silent and ask to speak with your attorney. Immediately contact an experienced federal drug defense attorney and explain the circumstances of your situation. This will help to protect your rights and may keep drug manufacturing charges at bay.
Don’t wait. If you are living in the Tampa, FL area and find yourself facing possible drug charges, the experienced professionals from Joffe Law, P.A. can help to protect your rights. Our attorneys will be in your corner and can impact the outcome of your case dramatically. The earlier you seek legal aid, the better your chances of reducing or avoiding charges will be. Federal drug charges can have life-altering consequences and should be taken seriously. Our federal drug defense attorneys have decades of experience protecting the legal rights of our clients and are ready to investigate your case thoroughly.