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Penalties for prescription drug abuse in North Carolina

One of the most amazing benefits of modern society is the advancements in medicine. Prescription drugs have done wonders in treating multiple diseases and health conditions. Unfortunately, some also carry the risk of abuse or addiction. These risks become reality for millions of Americans each year.

You may think that because a drug is also a legitimate medication, it is not as serious to distribute or use it illegally, or even abuse it legally. However, prescription meds are controlled substances, just like other nonmedicinal drugs, and therefore can carry harsh penalties for criminal misuse.

Federal classification

Prescriptions fall under different classifications for controlled substances depending on their medical usefulness and risks of abuse and dependence. Those that fall under Schedule V, the lowest class, are relatively harmless, such as some cough medicines. The rest fall under Schedules IV, III and II. Schedule I substances have the most addictive natures and contain no medical benefits, such as Ecstasy. Classification determines the penalties you will face for criminal activity with the drug.

North Carolina penalties

Because medication does not fall under Schedule I, crimes involving prescription drugs are usually misdemeanors. Which class of misdemeanor depends on the class of drug. The crime can rise to felony level if the drug type and amount meet certain state qualifications. Your criminal intent also plays a role in the penalty.

Legal consequences include steep fines and jail time. In addition, having a criminal record will lead to difficulties in gaining employment and housing. Addiction in general also affects numerous aspects of life. If dependency is the basis of your charges, drug court may be an option.

Prescription medicine can also contribute to other criminal activity due to mental impairment while under the influence and other side effects. The issue is complex because it involves multiple factors, so the best approach to facing criminal charges is to have a qualified defense lawyer guide you through proceedings.

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