Many prescription drugs are controlled substances. As such, possessing them without a valid prescription is a criminal offense. Depending on the drug involved, you may even be charged with a felony offense that carries the potential for severe penalties, including extensive incarceration.
With so much at stake, it’s imperative that you understand how Illinois handles this issue, that way you can formulate an effective criminal defense in the event you end up charged with possessing prescription medication without a valid prescription.
When can you be charged with possession without a valid prescription?
There’s really no limitation here. If you possess a narcotic medication and don’t have a prescription, then you can and likely will be charged. This is true even if your friend gives you something that seems innocuous, like a single Vicodin or Xanax to offset pain or discomfort that you’re feeling on a particular day.
Many people who possess a single pill are criminally charged. Others are accused of possessing these controlled substances with an altered prescription or through a fraudulent prescription. In all these instances, there’s a lot on the line in your criminal case.
What are the potential penalties for possession without a valid prescription?
There are lot of factors that can affect the answer to this question. Perhaps most important amongst them is the type of medication that was allegedly illegally possessed. This is because narcotics fall on a schedule of severity, and possessing those that are considered more severe have the potential to lead to more serious penalties. For example, illegally possessing something like fentanyl or amphetamine is going to be treated much differently than something like Klonopin or Xanax.
That said, when charged with possession without a prescription you could face anything from a Class 4 felony charge to a Class X felony charge. If convicted, then, you could be hit with anything from 1 to 30 years in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines. As if that’s not enough, a criminal conviction can have a ripple effect across nearly every aspect of your life, affecting everything from your employment to your ability to secure housing and spend time with your children. You could also be ordered to complete drug treatment and counseling programs.
How can you defend yourself against these charges?
The specific approach you take is going to depend on the facts of your case. However, here are some defense options that you might be able to utilize in your case:

Show that you had a valid prescription at the time.
Demonstrate that you didn’t intend to illegally possess the narcotic, such as by showing that they were left in your home or car by someone else.
Argue that the evidence of criminality was illegally obtained through an errant search and seizure.
Show mitigating factors that cause the court to grant leniency.

There might be other defense options available to you. Just be sure to fully consider the facts in play and what you can do to attack the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.
Don’t let a criminal charge ruin your life
It’s easy to fall into despair when you’ve been charged with a criminal offense. But regardless of the facts of your case, not all hope is lost. There are steps you can take to try to obtain dismissed charges or an acquittal, and even if it looks like a conviction is likely, you might be able to minimize the ultimate penalties that you face.
So, if you’re worried about the charges levied against you, then now is the time to get to work building the strongest criminal defense possible under your set of circumstances.The post Possessing a controlled substance without a valid prescription first appeared on W. Scott Hanken, Attorney at Law.