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Prescription Drug Crimes in San Diego

Most people in California are aware that being in possession of, using, or selling drugs such as cocaine or heroin is illegal and brings harsh penalties. But when it comes to prescription drugs, these cases become more complicated. After all, these drugs are not really considered illegal. Or are they?

With prescription drug abuse quickly escalating into an epidemic throughout the United States, it is helpful to understand California’s prescription drug laws.

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California’s Prescription Drug Laws

Under the California Health and Safety Code, it is against the law to possess any amount of a controlled substance. A controlled substance is defined as any drug that is illegal, or prescription drugs that have not been legally prescribed by a doctor. Proposition 47, which was passed in November 2014, downgraded these charges from felonies to misdemeanors. But even misdemeanor charges can still carry sentences of up to one year in jail.

Also under the California Health and Safety Code, even when a person has been legally prescribed a certain drug by a doctor, it is illegal for him to sell that drug to another person, regardless of the amount. Being charged with this offense is a felony, and penalties will depend on the amount of drugs that were sold.

Transporting prescription drugs is also a felony in California, although the transport must have taken place with the intent to sell or give the drugs away. The penalties are the same as for the transportation of any controlled substance. When the drugs have been transported from one county in California to another, or across state lines, the penalties are more severe.

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Prescription Drug Fraud

Prescription drug fraud is becoming more prevalent in the Golden State. In California, this is also known as doctor shopping and it is a serious offense. An individual may be charged with prescription drug fraud if he:

  • Obtains, or even tries to obtain, a prescribed drug from a doctor by means of fraud, deceit, or by withholding important information, such as the fact that he is addicted to prescription drugs.
  • Makes any statement that is untrue while trying to obtain a prescription.
  • Falsely represents himself as a manufacturer, wholesaler, pharmacist, doctor, dentist, or veterinarian in order to obtain prescription drugs.
  • Places a label on a package or receptacle that is untrue, or that has been forged.

Prescription drug fraud is considered a serious crime. If charged, the person will be facing penalties for either a misdemeanor or a felony offense.

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Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs

Most people know you cannot drive a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. But in the state of California, you cannot drive a vehicle under the influence of any type of drug. This is known as a DUID and it includes the lawful use of prescription drugs. Under this law, even patients who have legally obtained a prescription cannot operate a vehicle while under the influence of that drug.

A person is considered "under the influence of a drug" when the drug in his system prevents him from acting reasonably, responsibly, and safely. Being charged with a DUID can sometimes be more serious than being charged with a DUI. Some first-time offenders may be sentenced to probation and community service with no jail time; but repeat offenders will likely be sentenced to jail for a period.

In either case, whether the DUID is a first offense or a third, the person’s license is likely to be suspended anywhere from six months to three years.

If you have been charged with a prescription drug crime, it is important that you speak to a San Diego criminal defense attorney at jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys. With his experience as a former narcotics investigator, James N. Dicks knows the system and will use that knowledge to defend you to the best of his ability. Call today at (760) 630-2000 for your best chance at a successful outcome when you have been charged with a prescription drug crime.

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