The severity of a prescription drug charge can escalate from a misdemeanor to a felony based on several factors.
It is important to comprehend the circumstances that can lead to the elevation of charges, which could significantly impact an individual’s life.
1. Possession of prescription drugs
The law distinguishes between prescription drugs and controlled substances. Possession of a prescription drug without a valid prescription is the first step toward potential felony charges. This means that even if you have the drug for a legitimate medical reason but lack a valid prescription, you could find yourself facing legal trouble.
2. Possession with intent to distribute
One common way a prescription drug charge becomes a felony is if authorities suspect that an individual possesses these drugs with the intent to distribute them. This change in intent elevates the severity of the charge significantly. Law enforcement may infer intent from various factors, such as the quantity of drugs in possession, the presence of drug paraphernalia or large sums of cash.
3. Quantity matters
The quantity of prescription drugs in your possession can also affect the charge’s severity. Possessing a large quantity of prescription drugs can lead to more severe penalties. A substantial quantity may raise suspicions that the individual is not merely using the drugs for personal use but may have the intent to distribute them.
4. Aggravating factors
If you have a history of drug-related offenses, it can lead to more serious consequences when facing new charges. Additionally, if the possession of prescription drugs occurs within a designated school zone, near a park or in proximity to a child, this can lead to enhanced penalties.
In 2019, drug offenses accounted for 1.5 million arrests. For some people facing a drug charge, certain circumstances can turn the offense into a felony.