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A Little About Prescription Drug Dealing

By San Diego Attorney on August 24, 2018

The United States continues to suffer from an opioid epidemic. In a related twist, selling or dealing prescription drugs is considered a very serious offense in most states. So what is the difference between possessing prescription drugs and dealing prescription drugs? What are the penalties for each under the California Penal Code, and how has Proposition 47 affected those penalties?

Possession of Prescription Drugs

California’s Health and Safety Code, Section 11350, states that it is against the law for a person to possess any usable amount of a controlled substance without a prescription. The federal schedule of controlled substances states which drugs are included in this category: drugs like cocaine, crystal meth, and oxycodone. However, certain drugs on this list are legal with a valid prescription.

The prescription must be in the person’s name who has possession of it, and the prescription must not have been obtained by deception or using fraudulent means. Prescription drug fraud is covered under California’s Health and Safety Code, Section 11173. Committing prescription drug fraud may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

Possession of prescription drugs can also be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. Proposition 47 changed the way possession charges are laid. Under this proposition, those charged with possession of prescription drugs may have their charged dropped from a felony to a misdemeanor. Instead of spending time in prison, that person can instead complete a rehab program for treatment. However, only certain cases are eligible to have the charge dropped from a felony to misdemeanor.

If you are convicted of unlawful possession of prescription drugs, you face up to one year in county jail and a fine up to $1,000 if the crime is charged as a misdemeanor. If the crime is charged as a felony, you face up to 3 years in county jail. The sentences handed down by a judge will depend largely on the amount you had in possession, and past convictions, if you have any.

Dealing Prescription Drugs

Dealing prescription drugs is known as possession for sale in California, and this crime is covered under the Health and Safety Code, Section 11351. Under this law, it is illegal for anyone to sell prescription drugs for any reason. Even if a person has a valid prescription for the drugs in his name, it is illegal to sell them to another person.

It is important to note that under this law, there is no minimum amount of prescription drugs that has to be sold. Selling even one pill of a prescription drug is a crime, and it is considered a serious one.

Unlike simple possession, selling prescription drugs is not a crime eligible for the diversion programs offered under Proposition 47. It is always a felony, and those convicted face up to 4 years in county jail. A conviction can carry a fine of up to $20,000 instead of, or in addition to, jail time.

Like possessing prescription drugs, the penalties for selling or “dealing” them will also vary depending on the amount that was being sold. Transportation of prescription drugs for sale is also a crime that will be harshly penalized in the state of California.

If someone carries prescription drugs over state lines with the intent to sell them, this would be considered a federal crime. Federal crimes carry much harsher sentences and could result in time in a federal prison.

If You Have Been Charged with a Drug Crime, Speak to a Lawyer

Being charged with either possession or possession with intent to sell can seem hopeless. But there are many defenses available. Those charged with either of these crimes, or with transporting prescription drugs for sale, need to speak to a tough criminal defense attorney who can help.

Even under Proposition 47, if you are convicted of a drug crime in San Diego, you will still have a criminal record showing that you were found guilty. This criminal record can follow you around for the rest of your life and make things like gaining employment and housing very difficult. At JD Law, our criminal defense team can help ensure this does not happen. For a free consultation, please call (760) 630-2000 today.

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