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When is the possession of a prescription drug a Virginia felony?

On Behalf of | Aug 1, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Prescription medications are useful for all sorts of health issues. There are medications that help people control their blood pressure and drugs that help insomniacs fall asleep at night. Some prescription medication lends itself to abuse, which is why there are controlled substances laws in place. People can experience side effects that mimic the effects of illegal drugs by misusing certain prescription drugs. They can also develop a chemical dependence on medication.

Both the federal government and the state of Virginia limit the legal right of individuals to possess and use prescription medication. People can only own and use controlled substances under the supervision of a physician. If you get caught in possession of a drug that you do not have a valid prescription for, you will very likely face a controlled substances charge.

Some people assume that prescription medication charges would be less serious than criminal charges resulting from the possession of prohibited drugs, like heroin. What they don’t realize is that prescription medication can easily lead to felony charges under Virginia law.

The charges you face depend on the classification of the medication

There is a class schedule to identify the most dangerous drugs. The Schedule I substances are the most dangerous, while the higher schedule numbers, like Schedule IV medications, are drugs that people don’t abuse as commonly. The classification of the drugs someone has in their possession will determine the charges and penalties possible. Possession of even small amounts of Schedule I and II substances will result in felony charges under Virginia law.

The government does not recognize any medical uses for Schedule I drugs, and the only doctors can legally prescribe them is to help taper those already dependent on these medications. Heroin and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) are both Schedule I drugs. Schedule II drugs also pose a serious risk of causing harm, are commonly misused and may lead to chemical dependence. Schedule II drugs do have legitimate medical uses, but they still pose high risk for abuse and dependence issues.

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J. Emmette Pilgreen IV
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