Prescription Drug Crimes
There is widespread recognition that the abuse and misuse of prescription drugs has ballooned into a major problem. According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, pain pills now kill more people than cocaine and heroin combined.
The most commonly abused prescription medications are:
Opioids: These drugs are typically prescribed for pain, and include morphine, codeine, and oxycodone.For more on the use and abuse of opioid medications, see this report from Minnesota Public Radio.
CNS Depressants: These medications may be prescribed for anxiety or sleep disorders, and include benzodiazepines (such as diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax)) and barbiturates
Stimulants: Stimulants may be used to treat ADHD or narcolepsy, and include dextroamphetamine (Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin)
Unlawful Possession of Prescription Medications
The unlawful possession of a Schedule I – IV controlled substance is a felony, as is procuring or having control over a controlled substance by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, subterfuge, or using a false name. The potential penalties for unlawful possession vary depending on the facts, including the drug involved, the quantity, and whether the person has prior convictions.
Unlawful Sale of Prescription Medications
For purposes of its drug laws, Minnesota defines “sell” very broadly, to include:
- give away
- distribute or dispose of to another
- offer or agree to do any of the above
- possess with intent to do any of the above
This means that a person who shares prescription medication with another person could find herself charged with felony drug sales. The potential penalties for unlawful sales vary depending on the facts, including the drug involved, the quantity, and whether the person has prior convictions.
Weapons Enhancements in Possession and Sale Cases
Firearms: Minnesota law provides a three year mandatory minimum sentence for a felony drug conviction when “the defendant or an accomplice, at the time of the offense, had in possession or used, whether by brandishing, displaying, threatening with, or otherwise employing, a firearm.” For a second or subsequent offense, the mandatory minimum increases to five years.
Other Dangerous Weapons: Minnesota law provides a mandatory minimum sentence of a year and a day for a felony drug conviction in which “the defendant or an accomplice, at the time of the offense, used, whether by brandishing, displaying, threatening with, or otherwise employing, a dangerous weapon other than a firearm.” For a second or subsequent offense, the mandatory minimum increases to three years.
With a rise in overdose deaths in recent years, there is some anecdotal evidence that Minnesota prosecutors are increasingly bringing homicide charges against individuals alleged to have provided or administered drugs which resulted in an a death.
Minnesota law provides: “Whoever, without intent to cause death, proximately causes the death of a human being by, directly or indirectly, unlawfully selling, giving away, bartering, delivering, exchanging, distributing, or administering a controlled substance classified in Schedule I or Schedule II, is guilty of murder in the third degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 25 years or to payment of a fine of not more than $40,000, or both.”
Most people know that driving while under the influence of a controlled substance can result in an impaired driving conviction. What many people do not realize, is that the crime of impaired driving includes driving, operating, or being in physical control of a motor vehicle while one’s body contains “any amount of a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or Schedule II, or its metabolite.”
Federal Prescription Drug Crimes
Federal authorities, including the Drug Enforcement Administration and the United States Attorney’s Office, often in partnership with local law enforcement and prosecutors, tend to focus their investigative and prosecutorial resources to target drug trafficking organizations. These investigations seek to reduce the prevalence and availability of illegal drugs by identifying, prosecuting, and imprisoning top-level individuals responsible for importing, manufacturing, transporting, and distributing drugs.
Federal prosecutions are typically charged as conspiracies, and often involve numerous defendants. While the goal may be to identify top and mid-level individuals, it is not unusual for low-level dealers, and even mere users, to find themselves charged in federal cases. Sometimes users become dealers, or become involved in sales or distribution to support their own habits.
Depending on the circumstances, a federal trafficking conviction can carry a lengthy sentence, including up to life in prison. Many federal drug convictions have mandatory minimum sentences. Mandatory minimum sentences are typically five or ten years, but in some circumstances can be 20 years, 30 years, or even life in prison.
Defense Attorney for Prescription Drug Cases
If you or someone you love is being investigated or prosecuted for a crime involving prescription drugs, an experienced criminal defense attorney can be an enormous help. At F. Clayton Tyler, P.A., our defense attorneys use our experience and credentials to obtain results for our clients. While our attorneys are willing to step in at most stages, the sooner we are hired, the sooner we can begin and the more options will be available to address both the legal and factual issues in the case. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.
Our defense attorneys regularly appear in both state and federal courts around the Twin Cities, including Minneapolis, Edina, Minnetonka, and Brooklyn Center (Hennepin County); St. Paul and Maplewood (Ramsey County); Anoka (Anoka County); Stillwater (Washington County); Shakopee (Scott County); Chaska (Carver County); Hastings, West St. Paul, and Apple Valley (Dakota County).
We also defend drug cases across the state, and have handled cases in many Minnesota counties, including Sherburne County (Elk River), Wright County (Buffalo), Chisago County (Center City), Isanti County (Cambridge), Rice County (Faribault), Goodhue County (Red Wing), Stearns County (St. Cloud), Blue Earth County (Mankato), Olmsted County (Rochester), and St. Louis County (Duluth).
If you are facing a criminal charge, you need professional, personal representation. Our team of attorneys will offer you Straight Talk and Honest Answers about your case.
This website is designed for general information only. Nothing on this website should be construed as formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer-client relationship.
Law Offices of F. Clayton Tyler | TriTech Office Center | 331 Second Avenue South, Suite 230 | Minneapolis, MN 55401
612.333.7309 | 1.888.333.7309