How Prescription Drugs Can Lead To Criminal Charges

20 April 2016
 Categories: Law, Blog


Prescription drugs may be necessary for keeping you in good health, but you should be careful on how you handle them. There are circumstances under which these helpful drugs can attract criminal charges against you. This means you should be careful about handling or taking your prescription medicine. Here are three charges that may stem from the use or possession of legally prescribed drugs:

Public Intoxication

Getting charged with public intoxication is the same as getting charged with being drunken and disorderly. The exact meaning of the charges differs according to state rules, but it all boils down to being intoxicated and disturbing the public peace, which can attract criminal charges in some places.

The thing is that the officers arresting you will not conduct a spot check to determine whether you are intoxicated from alcohol, prescription drug or an illegal drug. Therefore, you can easily be arrested after taking an intoxicating prescription drug, such as the opioids used for pain management.

Fortunately, intoxication from a prescription drug isn't a crime. Therefore, all you will need to do is prove that your intoxication was caused by a drug you were taking legally. Of course, this will be after your arrest, so there are still some inconveniences you may have to deal with.

Driving Under the Influence

Just as in the case of public intoxication, you can be arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if you are under the influence of a prescription drug.  What matters is that the arresting officers have probable cause to believe that your driving is impaired. For example, an officer who sees you driving erratically may stop you and order a sobriety test. Failing such a test may get you arrested and charged with DUI.

The good news is that the criminal charges of DUI may be dropped if you can prove you were under the influence of a prescription drug. The bad news is that any civil liability you may have incurred while under the influence, for example damaging another person's car, will stay.

Possession of a Controlled Substance

The third charge you may face in connection with a prescription drug is that of possessing a controlled substance. In most places, the description of controlled substances includes medicinal drugs that can be and are being abused by some people. Such drugs should only be possessed by the individual named in the prescription.

However, in some places, you can still be arrested for possessing a controlled drug if you have taken them out of their original packaging (as dispensed by the pharmacist or practitioner) and stored them in alternative containers.

Ultimately, your prescription drugs may not get you into a lot of trouble if you are using them in the correct or legal way. However, the onus is on you to prove that the arresting officers were wrong, and the best way to do this is to let an attorney take care of the problem. Otherwise, you may end up wasting a lot of time defending charges that shouldn't have been leveled against you in the first place.