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3 common ways people break the law with prescribed medication

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | Criminal Defense

People often assume that the California criminal justice system employs a lenient approach to issues related to substance abuse. As a leader in drug law reform, California has developed a reputation for being more tolerant of infractions involving controlled substances.

Despite that reputation, police officers arrest thousands of people every year for drug infractions. The courts do not necessarily employ the lenient, forgiving approach that people expect. Instead, a judge can hand down an assortment of penalties depending on the nature of the drug offense. Jail time and fines, as well as probation and community service, are all possible consequences.

Many of the people arrested for drug crimes in California get arrested not for prohibited drug use but improper conduct with a prescribed medication. The following are some of the most common causes of prescription drug charges in California.

Involvement with the black market

People typically can only legally access medication through a licensed healthcare professional. They need a prescription from an actual physician and also to fill that prescription at a licensed pharmacy. Those who purchase medication on the unregulated market from an unlicensed party could face prosecution. So could anyone who decides to transfer their prescription medication to others.

Doctor shopping to get more medication

Even if it is legal to take certain medications while under the supervision of a physician, it can be dangerous for someone to take too much. Therefore, it is typically necessary for those using controlled substances to have a specific medical professional overseeing their care. Doctors tend to limit how much of a medication they prescribe or how many refills they offer a patient. Some people try to sidestep those limits by seeking care from multiple unaffiliated medical professionals in what is known as doctor shopping. Someone who sees multiple different doctors and pursues prescriptions from each of them could end up accused of abusing the medical system for fraudulent purposes.

Driving while affected by prescription medication

Quite a few prescribed medications can affect someone’s ability to drive. If police officers pull someone over or if a patient causes a car crash, someone could face drugged driving charges because they drove while under the influence of a medication.

Understanding that even prescription medications could lead to state drug charges may help people avoid potentially life-altering mistakes.