blog home Drug Possession Is It a Crime To Take Drugs Without a Prescription?

Is It a Crime To Take Drugs Without a Prescription?

By San Diego Attorney on September 15, 2022

Many people use FDA-approved drugs to help them manage a myriad of health problems. These medications are usually given to you in conjunction with your doctor, who will issue a prescription. However, what happens if you possess these drugs without a prescription?

You should know that in the state of California, it is a crime to possess drugs without a prescription under the Business & Professions Code 4060 BP. This is because prescription drugs are controlled substances, meaning that possession and use of them without a valid prescription is illegal.

How To Be Convicted

To be convicted under the Business & Professions Code 4060 BP, the prosecutor looks to see if you are guilty of the following five factors;

  1. You possessed or exercised control over a controlled substance (prescription drug)
  2. You were aware that you possessed the drug
  3. You were aware that the drug was a controlled substance (prescription drug)
  4. You possessed enough of the drug so that it could be used (more than a trace amount)
  5. You did not have an authentic prescription for the drug

It’s important to note that ‘possession’ does not just mean that it was found on your person. Possession also covers ‘constructive’ possession which is when the drug is held in an environment directly under your control. ‘Joint’ possession can also get you convicted, this is possession within an environment that you control alongside others.

Remember, if you are found in possession of a controlled substance, but have a valid prescription for the drugs, then you cannot be charged, as this is entirely legal.

If you are found to be exhibiting the signs of being under the influence of a controlled drug, but you are not in physical possession of the drug after ingesting it, you can still be charged with possession. Prosecutors will look to see if they can prove that the drug was once in your possession, and will follow the criteria above.

What Are the Consequences?

It is possible to avoid going to jail for possession of a controlled substance, As set out in PC 1000, offenders may instead be sentenced to participate in a state-approved drug rehabilitation program for anywhere from 12-18 months. However, you must meet certain criteria.  In the last five years, you must have not had any felony convictions, and you must not have any controlled substance possession convictions. Your offense must be non-violent, and finally, you must not simultaneously be charged with narcotics violations.

If you meet this criterion, you may avoid jail and be able to participate in state-supervised rehabilitation. If you complete this, your records will be sealed and the public will not be able to access the offense.

What Are Your Options?

Several defenses can be utilized by those charged with illegal possession of a prescription drug. If the drugs were found during an illegal search and seizure, and this can be proven in court,  then this may allow evidence to be excused.

Another defense commonly used is that you simply did not know that the drug was a controlled substance. If you’ve simply grabbed what you thought to be a painkiller from a friend or family member, then you will not have known the controlled nature of the substance.

The best defense is to prove that you had a valid prescription for the drug. This means that you were in possession of the drug legally and cannot be charged.

While there are many avenues for defense, you need a lawyer to guide you through the process and ensure you have an airtight case.

Here at jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, our team has years of experience dealing with all manner of drug possession cases. If you have been charged with illegal possession of a prescription drug, call us today at (760) 630-2000.

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Posted in: Drug Possession

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