Criminal Charges for Prescription Drugs?

Former Adams County Contract Employee Convicted on Prescription Drug Charge

In March 2012, Adams County officials began an investigation into a contract employee’s trading of prescription drugs with other county employees.  Rose Lucero was convicted of one count of distribution of drugs and acquitted of two other charges following a jury trial.  Lucero was the only employee criminally charged.  Five other employees completed a diversion program through the district attorney’s office.  Lucero was a contract employee, providing Xerox services to Adams County.


Can a Person Be Charged Criminally for Prescription Drug Possession?

Many people are surprised to learn that use, trading or even possession of prescription drugs can be illegal.  Prescriptions only allow the person for whom the drugs are prescribed to possess and use them.  Prescriptions also only allow the drugs to be used in the amount prescribed.  For example, if your child is caught with adderall and does not have a prescription for adderall, then he/she can be charged with possession of a controlled substance.  Even if your child is simply holding the adderall for a friend, but has not used the drug, he/she can be charged with possession of a controlled substance.  If your child is under 18, then he/she will be charged in juvenile court, but if your child is over 18, then he/she will be charged as an adult, risking permanent conviction for a felony that could have significant immediate and long term consequences.

Many people are also surprised to learn that driving on prescription drugs can also result in serious charges.  An officer may charge a person with driving under the influence or driving while ability impaired if a person’s driving is impaired by prescription drugs.  For example, if you have recently had surgery and have been prescribed pain killers, while you may legally take the prescription medication, you may not be able to legally drive on the medication.  While having a prescription is a defense to possession of a controlled substance, it is not necessarily a defense to a DUI or DWAI.  For that matter, a person can be charged with a DUI or DWAI if he/she has consumed over the counter medications and those medications have impaired his/her ability to drive.  For example, a person can legally buy and take over the counter cold medication, but may not be able to legally drive with that medication in his/her system.

This is not to say that simply because you can be charged in the above situations that you should be charged.  Depending on the facts and circumstances, there may be a legitimate defense and/or important mitigation that should be shared with the prosecution to reduce the consequences and punishment.  If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation where you have been charged criminally for something involving prescription drugs, please contact us for a free consultation.