Prescription drug cases are serious. The least serious prescription offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. But the bulk of prescription drug offenses are Class 6 felonies punishable by up to five years in prison and up to the same $2,500 fine. With so much at stake, it is imperative that an individual facing prescription drug offenses get in touch with a capable Prince William County prescription drug lawyer. An intelligent and persistent drug attorney could build a solid defense for them.
Prescription drug charges are not a priority for Prince William County law enforcement, but could become a priority depending on the pervasiveness of the prescription scheme. If the case just involves one unlawful possessor, prescriber, and/or issuer of prescription drugs, law enforcement would likely view it as an isolated incident.
If the prescribed drugs are dangerous in nature or if the same possessor, prescriber, or issuer of those drugs appears to be dealing those drugs on a routine or repeated basis, it could affect how seriously the charges are prosecuted and punished. The more a prescription drug offense appears to be a threat to the local community as opposed to one particular person, the more priority it carries with law enforcement.
A person could be arrested for having prescription drugs if they do not have the prescription on them. Unlike traffic offenses where police are able to look up certain legal information about a person in their own governmental computer system, such as addresses, insurance policies, and license numbers or statuses, law enforcement is not equipped to verify the validity of a prescription when they encounter someone on the street.
As a Prince William County prescription drug lawyer might explain, that information is protected by medical privacy laws. As such, police are free to disbelieve someone claiming to have a valid prescription that is not readily reproducible, or charge them first and let them produce that prescription later in the case if true. It is generally a person’s responsibility to carry proof of a prescription just like proof of a valid driver’s license or automobile insurance policy.
Prince William County courts treat prescription drug cases either sympathetically or harshly. The sympathetic universe of prescription drug cases pertains to situations where someone starts off consuming drugs in compliance with a valid prescription due to a legitimate mental or physical ailment, but exceeds the prescription somehow because they have incidentally developed a chemical dependence or addiction to that drug.
If the person is contrite about their responsibility and their desire to separate themselves from the drug, the court would usually care more about giving them the opportunity to do that than punishing them. There is also a dedicated statutory first offender program for prescription drug cases that could be taken advantage of.
The harshly punished universe of prescription drug offenses pertains to situations where someone is exploiting a prescription on a repeated, for profit basis involving multiple people. Physicians or pharmacies that are repeatedly issuing prescription drugs under circumstances where they know, or should know, that a prescription is inappropriate fall into this category, as well as the recipients of prescriptions who decided to distribute the drugs to other people instead of or in addition to permissible self-use.
The evidence that comes into play in prescription drug cases is the prescription itself, which would be the core article of evidence that the case revolves around. As such, documents related to the prescription as well as testimony by people who issued or filled the prescription would be implicated. If an individual has a prescription, it is imperative that they share that information with their Prince William County prescription drug lawyer. There would also be physical evidence as to how and where the prescribed drugs were being possessed after the prescription was filled, what the usage label on the bottle said, as well as forensic evidence related to the chemical properties of the drugs if those properties are relevant.
Some issues with prescription drug offenses that are different from other types of drug offenses are a consequence of the initial lawfulness or purported lawfulness of the underlying prescription. Unlike other drug cases where the substance was illegal to begin with, illegally required prescription offenses tend to be preceded by legal conduct that subsequently becomes illegal for some reason.
Prescription cases often involve issues of forgery, fraud, embezzlement, and lack of professional good faith in addition to the standard issues in drug cases like the legal classification of the drug and the legal concept of possession. Oftentimes these additional issues are referred to as “white-collar crime” issues.
A Prince William County prescription drug lawyer could help defend against these charges in Prince William County by helping the accused obtain, generate, interpret, and exclude evidence that could be used either in support or defense of the charges. This is important in producing the most accurate prediction of possible case outcomes.
Attorneys could also help the accused get a suitable bond allowing release from jail pending trial, attack the constitutionality of how the police came to charge the accused in the first place, and conduct negotiations with the prosecution prior to trial. If a case could not be resolved without trial, a lawyer would be essential in voicing the appropriate questions, objections, and arguments at trial as well as advocating for the most lenient sentence reasonably possible if an accused is found guilty. If an individual faces a prescription drug offense, they should consult an experienced legal advocate that could fight for them.
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