We now know the number of Americans who use prescribed controlled substances for non-medical purposes surpasses 15 million. Because of this heightened awareness, legislators and law enforcement officials have taken an all-hands-on-deck approach to quell the issue.
Texas law, in fact, outlines more than a dozen charges related to prescription drugs. If you are currently facing allegations, review this brief guide to Texas prescription drug crimes.
Then reach out to an experienced Texas drug crime defense attorney – because these aren’t charges you want to face alone.
Two Sides to Texas Prescription Drug Crimes
In broadest terms, most prescription drug crimes in Texas can be classified in one of two ways. Either you commit an act involving illegally obtaining prescription drugs, or you are in unlawful possession of them. Prescription drug offenses are separated as such below.
Charges Related to Illegally Obtaining Prescription Drugs
The majority of charges related to illegally obtaining prescription drugs involve some type of fraud. Misrepresentation, forgery, deception, and other types of fraud can be committed by any party involved. These include:
- Obtaining a controlled substance from a doctor not medically necessary (or attempting to)
- Obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation or fraudulent prescription (or attempting to)
- Furnishing false information in required documentation
- Unauthorized disclosure of prescription information
- Delivery of a prescription or prescription form for an invalid purpose
- Use of a Schedule II prescription issued to another person
- Issuing a forged prescription
Patients (or users), doctors (or other medical professionals), even distributors and manufacturers are subject to the same laws surrounding the proper and legal handling of prescribed substances.
Most often, however, it is the patient who is charged with these crimes in Texas. Doctor shopping is a prime example that could encompass a number of the charges outlined above.
Charges Related to Unlawful Possession of Prescription Drugs
All of these charges pertain to some aspect of the unlawful possession or movement of prescription drugs.
- Offenses of commercial registrant*
- Conversion of a controlled substance by the registrant to their own use
- Diversion of a controlled substance to unlawful use of another
- Distribution of Schedule I or II substance without the required order form
- Use of an invalid registration number in course of manufacture, prescription, or distribution of a controlled substance
- Making, distributing, or possessing a thing designed to reproduce a counterfeit substance
- Possession of an invalid prescription or prescription form
*Offenses of a commercial registrant is an over-arching charge for another handful of more specific offenses – all of which apply to violations by entities that initially have legal authorization to handle prescription drugs in some way.
Navigating prescription drug-related criminal charges in Texas becomes complicated quickly from here.
The Texas Controlled Substances Act Designates Penalty Groups
According to the Texas Controlled Substances Act, each prescription drug (along with other controlled substances) is identified as being part of one of four penalty groups. These groups help to determine an appropriate penalty for violating the laws surrounding each substance.
Possession without a Proper Prescription is a Crime
When a listed substance has recognized medicinal uses, it is legal to possess it when you also hold a valid prescription from someone who has the authority to prescribe it.
Mere possession of prescription drugs that are considered controlled substances is against Texas law. Even if you do not physically possess the substances, if prosecutors can prove your intent to possess them, you may be convicted of a possession charge.
Penalties Depend on Group Designation and Weight
In addition to being classified under one of four penalty groups, penalties also depend upon how much of a given illicit prescription drug has been found in your possession. The actual degree of crimes charged will be based on weight.
Note that law enforcement does not measure – or even estimate – the amount of a pure substance. Instead, the entire weight of the product confiscated is considered. This includes any additives or mixtures of substances.
Once a crime’s penalty group and the weight of the prescription drugs have been determined, official charges may be filed. Be aware that nearly every scenario winds up being charged as a felony.
Don’t Face Texas Prescription Drug Crime Charges Alone
There are Texas drug crime defense strategies that, used individually or in combination depending upon the unique circumstances surrounding your case, can keep you from spending the rest of your life paying for a mistake.
When a conviction on a prescription drug crime can land you anywhere from a few months to 99 years behind bars, as well as financially crushing fines, you can’t afford to not to have an experienced Fort Worth drug crime defense attorney on your side.
Reach out with questions or for a case review at no charge.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.