With the opioid epidemic sweeping the nation at an alarming rate, law enforcement has been cracking down on the illegal sale of painkillers and other medication. This crackdown extends to prescription drugs being shared between friends or family members. Even if there’s no cash transaction involved, giving medication to someone else is illegal and can result in a large fine, jail time, or both.
Why Is Sharing Painkillers Illegal?
When someone is given a prescription for medication, their doctor is granting them access to certain drugs based on a medical condition. Instructions for how and when to use the drugs are provided, as well as a specific dosage. Physicians are careful to prescribe only as much as should be needed, as inappropriate use could be harmful, even fatal. When someone gives prescribed painkillers to a friend, not only are they putting someone else’s life in danger, they’re breaking the law.
Because many painkillers are Schedule II or III Controlled Substances, a prescription is basically a permission slip allowing someone to have illegal drugs. Only the person named on the script may possess and consume medication and drugs. Even if two people have the same exact prescription for the same exact drugs, they could be prosecuted for sharing pills with each other.
Penalties for Sharing Prescription Drugs
In Nebraska, distribution of a controlled substance is classified as a Class II or Class IIA Felony, depending on what kind of drugs are shared. Class II Felony convictions can result in sentencings of 1 to 50 years in prison. Even if money does not change hands and the two parties involved are family members, those convicted can receive maximum penalties, especially if overdose or death occurs as a result.
Forging a prescription or forming a conspiracy to sell prescription painkillers are exacerbating factors that could result in even more jail time. While many instances of prescription painkiller sharing don’t involve money or drug conspiracies, there are a number of factors that can increase sentencings, such as how many painkillers were shared, who they were shared with, and what happened to the recipient of the drugs. Often, prescription drug sharing is only discovered after an overdose or death occurs. In these instances, family members should consider hiring representation before being questioned by law enforcement.
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
In a distribution of controlled substances case involving prescription painkillers, it isn’t uncommon for the accused to be completely innocent. There are many ways one person’s prescription drugs can end up in a friend or family member’s possession. When friends and acquaintances know someone has a prescription for a narcotic painkiller, one or more of them might attempt to steal pills. This is especially common if prescription holders have friends with histories of drug abuse and addiction.
It is up to the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused knowingly distributed prescription drugs. If your drugs were taken from you and used illegally, a good defense attorney will investigate the events surrounding the theft to mitigate your culpability and establish a motive for the person who stole the drugs.
Early and aggressive representation can be the key to a good defense. We have been protecting the individual rights of clients since 1965. Our attorneys have more than 100 years of combined experience. If you have been accused of sharing prescription painkillers, contact Berry Law Firm’s team of criminal attorneys today.