Many people in Colorado view prescription drugs as legal substances because they come from pharmacies, but they are only legal under narrow circumstances. All prescription medications are classified as controlled substances. If you possess a prescription medication without a valid prescription in your name, authorities could file criminal charges against you. Many prescription drug offenses result in misdemeanors, but charges can escalate to felonies for many reasons.
Prescription drug felonies
Being charged with a felony increases your risk of receiving a prison sentence, high fines and other consequences. After a prescription drug arrest, a prosecutor may decide to treat your drug case as a felony if:
- You possessed a large quantity of pills.
- You distributed medications.
- You committed prescription fraud to obtain pills.
- You already have a criminal record.
Should you be convicted of a felony drug offense, sentencing guidelines call for longer prison terms than misdemeanor convictions. Whether or not a defendant receives a prison sentence, court-ordered drug treatment and probation are commonplace penalties.
Relationship between addiction and felony charges
Many types of prescription drugs are habit forming. Opioid painkillers and the stimulant Adderall can cause people who use them regularly to become addicted. Regular use of stimulants can also drive people to start consuming sleep medications to counteract the alertness derived from stimulant use.
When people cannot legally obtain prescription medications that they have become dependent on, they experience unpleasant physical symptoms. In their pursuit of a steady supply of a prescription medication, they may turn to black market sources or become involved in a black market distribution network. Networks of this nature often rely on prescription fraud or theft to supply customers. Participation in the illegal distribution or sale of prescription drugs greatly heightens the chance of facing aggressive prosecution.