Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse, and prescription drug arrests, are on the rise.  If you are one of the many people in San Diego who has been charged with a prescription drug crime, the consequences could be severe.  Probation, jail, or even prison time, could be a possibility, depending upon the specifics of your case.  You need an experienced San Diego drug crimes lawyer to protect your rights.

Are prescription drugs different from other drugs?

When we ask whether prescription drugs differ from other controlled substances, we’re not attempting to compare the effect of taking a particular drug, or their chemical characteristics.  We are referring to the manner in which the drugs are treated under the laws of California, including the Health and Safety Code.  The fact of the matter is that without a valid prescription, possessing pain relief medicine such as Vicodin, sleeping pills such as seconal, anti-anxiety meds like valium and Xanax, and similar medications, is illegal.  Until recently, mere illegal possession of any one of these drugs could lead to a felony charge.

With the passage of Proposition 47, simple possession is reduced, in most cases, to a misdemeanor.  However, there are still factors that could lead to additional and perhaps more serious charges.  If, for example, you were arrested for possession for sale, sale, or trafficking in prescription drugs, you will likely be looking at a felony charge.

Another difference between prescription drug offenses and those involving other controlled substances is that the nature of these drugs lends itself to behavior which may in and of itself be criminal, independent of any possession charge.  Some examples are:

Counterfeit Prescription

Counterfeiting, fraudulently producing, or possessing a controlled substance prescription form is a misdemeanor.  The laws also covers forging a prescription, and signing a fictitious person’s name on a prescription.  Some of these could result in felony charges.

Prescriptions and Doctors

It is a crime for a doctor to issue a prescription for a controlled substance unless it is for a legitimate medical purpose.  On the patient side, the law in California prohibits anyone from attempting to obtain a controlled substance by fraud or deceit, or by concealing a material fact.  This is intended to prevent “doctor shopping,” which involves going from one doctor or another to obtain multiple prescriptions, concealing that fact from one or more of the doctors, and/or misrepresenting one’s medical condition.


Addiction plays a large role in many drug cases.  With prescription drugs, however, the problem often begins with a legitimate prescription, and the problem develops, at least in part, because of the negligence of the prescribing physician.  As with other drugs, addiction can snowball, and can lead to greater dependence, as well as related charges, including burglary and others.

Prescription Drugs & DUI

Prescription drug use can be the basis for a charge of driving under the influence.  Even where the prescription is valid, and you are taking the drug as prescribed, it is still an offense to drive while you are under the influence of any drug.

Are there defenses to prescription drug charges?

If you are facing a prescription drug charge, there is hope.  You are innocent until proven guilty, and there are numerous defenses that can be raised, and raised successfully, in these cases.  Remember that the prosecutor must prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt.  Call us today, and schedule a free, confidential consultation with attorney Ryan J. Tegnelia.