Understanding Prescription Drug Charges in Chicago

Updated on 06/23/2022 / Under

If you are facing prescription drug charges in Chicago, call Ktenas Law today to talk to a criminal defense lawyer. These crimes are extremely serious, can affect current and future employment, and must be taken seriously. Putting your best foot forward means taking that first step with a passionate and experienced criminal defense attorney at your side. 

Types of Prescription Drug Charges

When it comes to drug charges, there are several levels of charges you can get. Starting with simple possession, drug charges relating to prescription drugs are as follows:

These are not the only charges you can face if found with illegally obtained prescription medication. You can also face charges for any paraphernalia you are found with, such as small pill bags, pill counters, or scale counters, manufacture of illegal drugs, as well as obtaining prescription medication by fraud or deceit, drug trafficking, and even theft if you stole prescription medication or a prescription pad in order to obtain a controlled substance. 

Each charge comes with its own set sentencing, and several charges can see you in jail for more than a decade. These charges vary in minimum and maximum sentencing, but all should be taken seriously as they can appear on background checks and affect current and future employment opportunities, as well as cause the suspension of special licenses, as well as the suspension or cancelation of certain social benefits and services, etc. Speak to your legal representation to learn about the possible societal issues you could be facing. 

Related: How to Get Drug Charges Dismissed

Is Prescription Drug Possession a Felony or Misdemeanor?

Any and all possession charges relating to prescription drugs are felonies, going from a Class 4 Felony to a Class X Felony. Just like all other drug charges, the level of felony, size of the fines, amount of jail time, and all other punishments are decided by the quantity of drugs you were in possession of without a valid prescription, and any other charges you picked up at the same time.

Unlike some illegal street drugs, even a single pill of prescription medication is enough to be charged with a felony, because there are no misdemeanor charges for most prescription drugs. For marijuana, for example, you have to be in possession of over 30 grams in order to be charged with a felony, or have 10 grams and have previous drug charges. 

an image of a prescription and medication on a desk

Sentencing outlines for the prescription drug possession charges are as follows, with a few examples: 

  • Class 4 Felony: 1-3 years
  • Class 3 Felony: 2-5 years
  • Class 2 Felony: 3-7 years
  • Class 1 Felony: 4-15 years 
  • Class X Felony: 6-30 years

Two different prescription drugs, anabolic steroids, and nitrous oxide do not carry felony charges for first-time possessions. Second-time possession may lead to felony charges, however. The minimum amount necessary for charges is normally less than a single pill of most prescription drugs. 

How to Defend a Prescription Drug Charge

The criminal charges brought about by prescription drug possession can be terrifying. Thankfully, there are a few go-to defenses known by experienced drug crime attorneys. The first, and most well-known, is a violation of rights defense.

This defense argues that your rights were violated in some way, from unlawful search and seizure to illegal traffic stop or you were not read your rights, etc. This defense is often used because more often than not it leads to the case being thrown out entirely. 

Another common defense is a medical exemption. If you are stopped with prescription pills in your possession outside of their bottle, you can be charged with possession, even if the pills belong to you. When these kinds of mistakes happen, it is as simple as providing a valid prescription showing that these pills belong to you to get the charges dropped. 

Two other common possession charges are the "they're not mine" defense and arguing for police corruption, or a setup such as entrapment. These four defenses are the most commonly used defenses in drug possession cases across the United States. 

Learn More: Should You Get a Lawyer for Drug Charges?

Review Your Drug Charges with Our Firm

If you're facing prescription drug charges, no matter if you feel it's just a simple misunderstanding, it is important to understand that these charges are extremely serious and can result in years spent behind bars. You should never face these kinds of charges alone. Facing serious felony charges with a legal team of experts will always be the safest idea.

At Ktenas Law, we are passionate about criminal defense, and spend every day working in Cook County courts to defend our clients. No matter the circumstances of your case, no matter how serious your charges are, we're here to help. Call us today for a free consultation with a Chicago drug possession lawyer, and let us begin your journey to freedom together.