The holidays are upon us in full force and that means that out of town visitors and family will be coming in and staying as guests. This is generally a happy time and families enjoy the opportunity to see loved ones that they may not see more than once per year. However, as people arrive, it is important to be sure to protect your family and yourself and to ensure that people do not help themselves to prescription drugs that you may have in your home.
Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse is a significant issue across the United States. This is particularly true of opioids prescribed for pain management. If you have had surgery recently or have a leftover prescription of pain medication in your medicine cabinet, it is important that you not leave unused medicine in your home. You can dispose of the leftover medication at police stations and other locations with no questions asked.
If your medicine is left in your home, it could be taken by a family member or other guest that is dealing with an addiction of which you are unaware. If an individual takes your pain medication, especially opioid-based medicine, they may find themselves dealing with significant legal issues. In Tennessee, it is “unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to: Acquire or obtain, or attempt to obtain, possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge” (Tennessee Code Unannotated 53-11-402,(a), (3)). Individuals convicted of this for the first time may “have the sentence suspended, and may as a condition of the suspension be required to participate in a program of rehabilitation at a drug treatment facility operated by the state or a comprehensive mental health center”(Tennessee Code Unannotated 53-11-402,(a), (3)). People who have already had one conviction may face more significant punishment. Any violations of these laws in Tennessee, with one exception, are a Class D felony and fines can range from $1,000 to $100,000 depending on the classification of the controlled substance.
In addition to the consequences facing those unlawfully possessing the substances, you may face charges as well if it can be proved that you gave the substances to an individual without a prescription. While it may have been unintentional, it may be difficult to prove that you did not willingly or intentionally distribute the drugs to the individual found to be in possession of them.
Should you find yourself or a family member dealing with a felony charge as a result of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, it is important to know that help is available. The attorneys at Best and Brock can work with you and your family to help you address the charges head on and seek to find the best possible outcome. For more information about your legal options or to set up a consultation, please contact us.