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What is the Penalty for Unlawful Possession of Prescription Drugs?

Prescription drugs are still illegal under some circumstances, and unlawful possession comes with very harsh penalties for those convicted.

Under Georgia law, there are many different types of illegal drugs and they are divided into classifications known as schedules. The schedule a drug falls into will have a major impact on the penalties a person will face if they are convicted. Prescription drugs fall under Schedule IV, but it is important not to downplay the severity of unlawful possession charges. Unlawful possession of prescription drugs is still a felony in the state, which carries very harsh penalties. An Atlanta criminal defense lawyer can provide the defense you need to help you beat the charges.

What are Schedule IV Drugs?

Schedule IV drugs are classified as having some accepted medical uses and less potential for abuse than other types of drugs, such as those under Schedule III. Xanax, Darvocet, Soma, Ativan, Ambien, and Zolpidem are some of the most common Schedule IV drugs. A full list of drugs that fall under Schedule IV can be found in O.C.G.A. Section 16-13-28.

Actual and Constructive Possession of Schedule IV Drugs

Under O.C.G.A. Section 16-13-30(a), it is against the law for anyone to possess, purchase, or have a controlled substance in their possession. In order to secure a conviction for unlawful possession, the prosecution must prove that you were in possession of the drug. The state can prove possession in one of two ways, which include actual and constructive possession.

When a drug is found on you, such as in your purse or in your pocket, that is considered actual possession. Constructive possession, on the other hand, occurs when an illegal drug is found in an area over which you have control, such as your business, vehicle, or home. The law assumes that when you have control over these areas, you also possess whatever is found in them. As such, even if the drugs were not directly on you, possession can be implied.

The Penalty for Unlawful Possession of a Prescription Drug

Unlawful possession of a prescription drug is considered a felony in Georgia. Anyone convicted will face between one and three years in prison for a first offense. A second or subsequent conviction will have an increased prison term of anywhere between one and five years.

In some instances, a judge may allow a person to enter into a diversion program, but this is only an option when the charge is a person’s first offense. If you are allowed to enter into a diversion program, you will have to meet a number of conditions set out by the judge. These conditions can include undergoing a rehabilitation program or receiving medical treatment. If you meet all conditions and complete the program, the court will dismiss your charges.

Call Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Atlanta Today

Unlawful possession of prescription drugs is a very serious offense that comes with harsh penalties for those convicted. At Ghanayem & Rayasam, our Atlanta criminal defense lawyer knows the defenses to these charges and will use them effectively to give you the best chance of retaining your freedom. Call us today at (404) 561-0202 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how we can help.