When people hear the word “drugs,” most of them think of two types of drugs: prescription medication and controlled substances. The latter include cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and others.
But some prescription drugs also fall under penalty groups in Texas law. Many people mistakenly believe that they cannot get in trouble with the law if they possess prescription drugs.
In reality, you can face criminal charges for possession of prescription drugs. That is why it is important to understand your rights if you were prescribed medications that can be found in Texas’s penalty categories.
Contact a Round Rock criminal defense attorney if you have been arrested for possession of prescription drugs in Texas. You need a skilled criminal lawyer to protect your freedom and future.
What Prescription Drugs Are Illegal in Texas?
Many prescription drugs are considered controlled substances in the eyes of the Texas Penal Code. For this reason, if you are caught having these illegal drugs in your possession without a valid prescription from a certified doctor, you can face criminal charges for possession of prescription drugs.
Texas law divides all controlled substances, including some prescription drugs, into different penalty groups. Each group carries different penalties and different thresholds. Without a valid prescription, you can face possession of drugs charges for getting caught with the following prescription medication:
Penalty Group I: Vicodin, fentanyl, morphine, OxyContin, and other types of opiates. This group also includes Desoxyn (Methamphetamine) and Rohypnol.
Penalty Group II: Quaalude, Phenylacetone, amphetamine, and Vyvanse (Lisdexamfetamine).
Penalty Group III: some appetite suppressants, Xanax, Ritalin, anabolic steroids, and others.
Penalty Group IV: Drugs containing morphine, codeine, or difenoxin.
These prescription drugs should be taken exactly as prescribed by the doctor because they have a high risk of abuse and addiction. If you were caught with illegal drugs without a prescription, you might face criminal penalties for a drug crime.
What Are the Criminal Penalties for Possession of Prescription Drugs in Texas?
Texas has a classification system that divides controlled substances and prescription drugs into different penalty groups, which makes determining penalties for possession and other drug crimes more difficult.
Typically, a person arrested for possession of controlled substances in Texas can face the following penalties:
Mandatory substance abuse treatment
A suspension of the driver’s license
The exact penalties you can face will depend on the following factors:
the type of the drug and its penalty group;
the amount that you had on you at the time of your arrest;
whether you possessed the drug for personal use or had the intent to deliver or sell it;
your past criminal convictions;
whether the offense involved an underage person.
If you are facing drug possession or other drug-related charges for having a prescription drug without a valid prescription, it is critical to speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Manufacture or Delivery of Controlled Substance Charges for Prescription Drugs
If you are arrested with a large amount of prescription drugs in your possession, you may face criminal charges for the manufacture or delivery of controlled substances (Texas Health and Safety Code § 483.042 and § 483.043). These two criminal charges carry more serious penalties than possession because the offender intends to distribute, manufacture, or sell illegal drugs.
Can You Face Criminal Penalties for ‘Doctor Shopping’ in Texas?
Many people are growing dependent on opioids, painkillers, and other types of narcotics. In 2019 alone, nearly 50,000 Americans died from opioid-involved overdoses. Statistics show that up to 30% of all patients who are prescribed opioids end up abusing these prescription drugs.
Many patients engage in the so-called doctor shopping practice to get higher quantities of opioids and other prescription drugs. Doctor shopping refers to a patient obtaining controlled substances through a prescription from multiple healthcare providers.
In other words, if a patient wants a larger quantity of prescribed medication, including an opioid, they may visit multiple medical professionals to “shop” for more drugs. Many patients who engaged in this practice lie to healthcare providers in order to gain higher quantities of illegal drugs.
Doctor shopping may result in criminal penalties and felony charges in Texas. If you are accused of doctor shopping, do not hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney.
Penalties for Prescription Fraud in Texas
You can also face criminal penalties for forging or altering prescriptions in Texas. Under Texas Health and Safety Code § 483.045, you commit an offense if you engage in any of the following activities:
Forge a prescription;
Increase the prescribed quantity of a controlled substance in a prescription;
Forge a signature;
Obtain a controlled substance by using a forged or altered prescription; or
Obtain a controlled substance through a fraudulent phone call.
Depending on the circumstances of the offense, you can be charged with Class B Misdemeanor or Class A Misdemeanor. A drug-related conviction on your criminal record can impact various aspects of your life, including your ability to find a job, housing opportunities, and others.
What Are the Defenses to Drug Possession Charges in Texas?
If you are facing drug possession charges for having prescription drugs without a valid prescription on your person, you need a skilled lawyer to help you develop an effective defense strategy.
There are different defenses to drug possession charges in Texas. Depending on the circumstances of your criminal offense and your arrest, you may be able to assert the following defenses:
Unlawful searches and seizures
Lack of intent
These and many other defense strategies may be available in your case if you are facing criminal charges for possession of prescription drugs. If you actually have a valid prescription, you may have been unlawfully arrested for possession. It is advisable to contact a knowledgeable criminal lawyer to help you build a successful defense strategy in your unique case.Get a free case evaluation with our criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to make sure that your rights are protected and do whatever it takes to avoid a conviction.