Can I be charged with a crime for sharing prescription drugs in Pennsylvania?
It is a crime in Pennsylvania to share prescription drugs as well as illegal drugs.
It might be hard to believe, but a person who shares a prescription drug with a friend or family member can face the same felony drug charges as a drug trafficker. Understand the criminal penalties for sharing, selling or distributing drugs in Pennsylvania.
Many people who share prescription drugs do not know that they are committing a crime. However, prescription drugs such as Oxycodone and Vicodin are controlled substances under the law. Giving another person a controlled substance, whether it is heroin or a prescription pain reliever, is legally classified as possession with the intent to deliver a felony. If the person who takes the drug dies, the person who supplied the drugs can be charged with homicide by delivery.
Opioid Overdose Epidemic
No one is underestimating the societal problems associated with sharing prescription pain killers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that one of the leading causes of injury-related deaths in the U.S. is drug overdose. That includes the problem that prescription or illegal opioids are creating. Those deaths continue to rise.
Pennsylvania has an act that makes it illegal to possess or transfer drugs. If you haven’t noticed, there is a warning on prescription drugs. Essentially, the warning says that the prescription drug cannot be transferred to anyone other than the person to whom it was prescribed. If you give them to anyone, it can lead to criminal charges. Before its too late, reach out to experienced criminal defense lawyers in Pennsylvania who can provide you the legal advice and answers you need.
Teenagers and young adults often share prescription drugs. Most of them were legally obtained. Few of the teens realize that it is illegal to share them or the devastating consequences. People become addicted and some of them die from drug overdoses.
Prescription Drug Overdose Deaths are increasing
According to the CDC, Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in America. The organization said that about 44 people out of every 100,000 people died due to drug overdoses in our state. Those numbers are also rising.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that drug overdoses in the U.S. that were caused by prescription opioid use rose by almost 30,000 in a decade. More than 130 people die every day from opioid-related drug overdoses.
Possible Penalties and Sentences for Sharing Prescription Drugs
Drug trafficking or distribution is a serious charge. It is defined as “possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.” Even if someone shared their prescription drug and did not intend to distribute or deliver the drugs, the case still can be charged as drug possession.
The charges and penalties could be:
Possession. First offense – one-year imprisonment and/or a fine of $5,000; second – up to two years in prison; third – up to three years in prison.
Trafficking. Three to five years up to life imprisonment.
Possession with the intent to distribution. This could lead to charges in both Pennsylvania and federal courts. It is a much more serious allegation than possession. Mitigating factors could include the type of drug and the amount you had when you were arrested. It includes mandatory minimum sentencing. The length and severity of the sentence depend on the details of your case (previous convictions; a weapon was involved).
Drug delivery resulting in death. A person commits a felony of the first degree if the person intentionally administers, dispenses, delivers, gives, prescribes, sells or distributes any controlled substance or counterfeit controlled substance in violation of The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, and another person dies as a result of using the substance.
The consequences could include:
- Lengthy term of imprisonment or confinement
- Employment problems
- Difficulties obtaining professional licenses
- Graduate school admission complications
- Issues joining the military
- Inability to get federally subsidized student loans
Hire an experienced attorney to help you navigate the legal issues
It is important to talk to your child about the problems that could come out of sharing prescription drugs with a friend. Explain to them that it could include a felony conviction. If that happens, it will change their life forever. Even if they did not know it was illegal, they can be charged.
If that happens, it could lead to loss of opportunities in life. If a friend dies after taking a prescription drug they provided, it could result in the destruction of two lives – their friend’s and their own. If you or your child is facing allegations after sharing a prescription drug, call an experienced defense attorney who understands Pennsylvania’s drug laws. They can help build a strong defense. There is no typical outcome in these cases. They will be determined by the details. Even in what seems like a minor offense, you want to address the problem with an attorney. You do not want to try to defend the case without proven legal counsel.
We are here in your time of need
When you or your family member is battling drug addiction and possibly facing criminal prosecution, you need the help of experienced advocates who are ready to protect them. Me and my team of lawyers welcome the opportunity to meet and speak with you when it matters.