Possession of Prescription Drugs in Arizona

possession of prescription drugsWhat happens if you have somebody else’s prescription medications with you? Can you possess such pharmaceuticals without getting in legal trouble in Arizona? To answer the question, we need to take a look at the Arizona laws pertaining to the possession of prescription-only drugs.

The Legal Framework

A.R.S. 13-3406 addresses the possession, use, administration, acquisition and sale of prescription-only medications.

According to the statute, a person can buy and possess such medications only if they have a valid prescription in their name. The holder of the prescription cannot administer or give such medications to another person who doesn’t have a prescription.

Misrepresentation, fraud and deceit used to obtain prescription-only drugs are criminal activities.

It’s also illegal to:

  • Possess prescription drugs for sale in the absence of a permit
  • Possess the equipment and chemicals needed for the production of prescription-only drugs in the absence of a valid license
  • Manufacture prescription-only drugs in the absence of a license
  • Possess a misbranded drug
  • Sell or distribute misbranded drugs

Depending on the offence committed, the individual will face either misdemeanor or felony charges.

Sanctions for the Possession and the Distribution of Prescription-Only Drugs

The possession and use of misbranded drugs is a Class 2 misdemeanor. This is the least serious offence of all charges related to the possession and distribution or manufacturing of prescription-only medications.

The possession of a prescription-only drug without having a prescription is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Administering a prescription-only drug to another person or obtaining such a medication by fraud will also be classified as Class 1 misdemeanor.

The possession of prescription-only drugs for sale without a license and the unlicensed transportation of such medications are classified as Class 6 felonies in Arizona. Manufacturing misbranded drugs is a Class 4 felony.

In addition to all other penalties stemming from such charges, prescription-only drug criminal offenses in Arizona come with a court-ordered fine of 1,000 dollars. Also, people convicted of a felony under A.R.S. 13-3406 are prohibited from using marijuana, dangerous drugs, narcotics or prescription-only medications. The only exception is for a lawfully-administered medication by a medical practitioner. In all other instances, the individual will have to do regular drug screening over the entire length of their probation or before the expiration of the imposed sentence.

Federal Charges for the Illegal Possession of Prescription-Only Drugs

Apart from being prosecuted under Arizona regulations, the possession of prescription-only drugs could also lead to federal charges.

Such charges are most common in the case of prescription-only drug transportation across state lines.

People who transport drugs and are also found guilty of possession with the intent to sell will face felony charges. The intent to sell is correlated to the amount of the pharmaceutical found on a person. There’s a certain amount that’s deemed appropriate for personal use. Larger quantities will be lead to possession with the intent to sell charges.

The amount that’s deemed suitable for personal use is dependent on the individual’s condition and the medical condition that’s being treated. Hence, there isn’t a universal amount as in the case of marijuana or illegal drugs.

What Will Happen if You Are Caught with Prescription-Only Medications

If you’re arrested with prescription-only medications in the absence of a valid prescription, you’ll face several possible outcomes.

To get the best case scenario, hire an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney.

The lawyer will examine the specifics of the arrest to see what the best line of defense is going to be.

Even if the charges cannot be dismissed altogether, the lawyer will work hard to give you minimal sanctions. Drug court, probation or deferred programs may be available to first-time offenders (excluding those found guilty of manufacturing or selling prescription-only drugs).  The requirements for regular drug testing will remain intact, even in such situations.

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