Prescription drugs are in the vast majority of medicine cabinets in America. Some medications are generally unheard of, whereas others are very well-known and can have significant impacts if ingested. There is a wide range of prescription drugs and they are highly regulated.
Considering how prevalent prescription drugs are, as well as the many rules and regulations that govern them, it is not uncommon for people to inadvertently find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Additionally, there have been numerous issues with large pharmaceutical companies such as Purdue aggressively pushing highly addictive opioids into society. As a result of these companies’ pursuit of profit, many people have fallen prey to addiction.
Regardless of why you have questions about prescription drug laws, our experienced attorneys have compiled the answers to several commonly asked questions below. Speak to a Fremont prescription drug lawyer to learn more.
Is it Illegal to Possess Prescription Drugs in Nebraska?
It is not illegal to possess prescription drugs that are properly prescribed by a licensed healthcare provider. However, Nebraska Chapter 28, Statutes 416, 417, and 418 describe the circumstances in which it is illegal to possess prescription drugs.
Essentially, if you are in possession of prescription drugs and they were not provided to you by a licensed medical practitioner in the course of their medical practice, you could potentially be committing a misdemeanor or felony. This also applies to distributing prescription medications without a license, or using fraudulent documents in a deceitful manner in order to obtain prescription medications.
What Prescription Drugs Can Lead to Felony Charges?
In Nebraska, there are five schedules of drug categories ranked by their degrees of addictiveness and potential danger. Schedule I drugs are considered the most addictive and dangerous. Each category will carry with it the potential to face different felony class charges.
According to statute 28-416, if you are caught manufacturing, delivering, dispensing, or intend to do those activities with a Schedule I, II, or III controlled substance, you may face a Class II or Class IIA felony. Performing those same acts with a Schedule IV or V controlled substance may result in a Class IIIA felony.
If you are caught in possession of Schedule I controlled substances with no intent to manufacture, deliver, or dispense, you may face a Class IV felony. There are also certain delineations in other drug categories that will make certain drugs a felony to possess. For example, 28-416(10) refers to a schedule II drug and its precursors, methamphetamine. Possession of certain amounts can lead to different levels of felonies.
In order to further clarify, here are some examples of common drugs that can be found within these categories:
What are the Defenses to Prescription drug charges?
There are possible defenses to prescription drug charges; however, it largely depends on the circumstances in which a person is arrested.
A common defense tactic involves a legal term known as “Fruits of the poisonous tree.” This refers to the legality of the circumstances in which a person is detained and/or searched. If the legality of the circumstances in which law enforcement discovered prescription drugs can be challenged, it may lead to the evidence they discovered to be suppressed.
Additionally, prosecutors will need to show proof that the defendant was indeed the one in possession of the drugs. This can be challenged if the lack of possession defense is used. An example of this could be if two individuals are seated in a living room and prescription pills are found by law enforcement on the living room table. Depending on what statements are made and additional evidence presented, it may be challenging for the state to prove possession.
Another defense is the unwitting possession tactic. This can be used if a defendant can prove they were given prescription medications by someone else, and at the time were unaware that having these pills on their person would be a crime.
What are the Penalties?
The penalties vary depending on numerous circumstances and the type of crime that has been charged. Courts take into consideration the following factors when determining punishment for both felony and misdemeanor drug violations. Some of those factors include the amount of drugs in possession, prior convictions, defendant’s age, and location (such as whether the incident happened at a school).
Additionally, a defendant may lose their license to operate motor-vehicles. The length of the suspension depends on how many prior convictions the defendant has on their record.
A complete chart of the felony penalty ranges are included in Chapter 28-105. This chart will display the maximum penalties for imprisonment, as well as fines and supervision.
A complete chart of the misdemeanor penalty ranges are included in Chapter 28-106. Similar to the previous felony chart, this misdemeanor chart will describe the different penalties.
When contemplating penalties, it is important to realize that being arrested for possession or distribution of Schedule I drugs will have the most severe consequences. As the classification of drugs goes lower, the penalties also become less severe. You can potentially face lengthy terms of imprisonment, all the way down to fines and supervision. The circumstances of an arrest and the type of drug involved will play major roles in determining the severity of any penalties.
Is it Illegal to Give Away or Sell my Prescription Drugs?
Yes, it is illegal to give away or sell your prescription drugs. If you do this, you risk the possibility of facing several different felony charges. There are circumstances in which you can return drugs to participating pharmacies or police departments.
For example, while it may seem harmless to share a pain medication with a friend or family member who is in legitimate pain, this can lead to serious consequences. Additionally, you may not be aware of any underlying health issues they might have and providing someone with the wrong medication could lead to serious health emergencies.
Contact a Fremont Prescription Drug Attorney
If you are not a licensed medical provider who is prescribing medications in the course of the regular duties of your profession, you will face felony charges for selling prescription drugs. If you have been accused of this offense, contact a Fremont prescription drug lawyer for legal advice and representation.