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Prescription Drug Charges in Atlanta and How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

In Georgia and throughout the nation, prescription drug abuse and addiction have become a national epidemic in recent years. The number of fatalities as a result of prescription drug overdoses has surpassed the amount of death caused by street drugs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 69 percent of over 70,200 drug overdose fatalities in 2017 involved an opioid. One hundred and thirty Americans on average die each day from an opioid overdose.

There is no bias regarding the opioid epidemic. Atlanta’s middle-to-upper class neighborhoods have experienced a significant number of opioid overdoses and deaths compared to other residential areas in the city.

In order to curtail the tragedies caused by prescription drugs, state lawmakers have enacted tough laws against those who abuse opioids. Unlawful possession of any type of prescription medication is considered a felony offense.

Georgia law classifies controlled substances into five schedules. Schedule I narcotics are considered the most dangerous types of drugs with no medical value while Schedule V drugs have the lowest potential for abuse and widely accepted medical use. Many opioids are considered Schedule II (e.g. codeine, OxyContin, hydrocodone, fentanyl, morphine, Vicodin, and Adderall).

The following is a breakdown of the penalties for unlawful possession of prescription drugs:

  • Unlawful possession of a Schedule I or II narcotic – A felony offense which carries a prison sentence between one and 15 years. A subsequent conviction is punishable by a maximum 30-year prison sentence.
  • Unlawful possession of a Schedule III, IV, or V narcotic – A felony offense punishable by a prison sentence between one and five years.
  • Manufacturing, distributing, or selling Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance – A felony offense punishable between 5 and 30 years imprisonment. A second or subsequent offense has a punishment range of 10 to 40 years or life imprisonment.

Another common type of prescription drug crime involves prescription fraud, which is gaining access to prescribed medication through fraudulent means and misrepresentation. Common forms of prescription fraud include forgery – such as a doctor’s signature -- to obtain a prescription, identity theft/fraud – using someone else’s personal information to obtain a prescription, impersonation of a healthcare provider, and “doctor shopping,” meaning going to different doctors to acquire the same prescription.

If you are facing prescription drug charges, it is in your best interest to obtain experienced and knowledgeable legal representation from a criminal defense attorney. Attorney Brian Tevis of Tevis Law Firm, LLC understands that those accused of prescription drug crimes are not seasoned criminals—but rather people who have an addiction problem.

In fact, some courts understand this as well. As an alternative to going to trial, an experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to persuade the court and/or prosecutor to give his client the opportunity to enroll in a pretrial diversion program, where they can receive treatment for their drug addiction, counseling, and help to stay off drugs and alcohol. Once a defendant completes the program, the charges against him/her may be dismissed without any conviction entered on his or her criminal record.

Attorney Brian Tevis’s goal is to get the best possible outcome for each client. He understands that every case is different, just like every client is unique. He can evaluate your case, determine all available legal options, build a strong defense strategy, and potentially help you get your entire case dismissed or get you enrolled in a diversion or treatment program instead of serving jail time.

For more information about prescription drug crimes in Georgia, contact our Atlanta criminal defense attorney at Tevis Law Firm, LLC today.