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How Public Opinion Is Swaying Opioid Prescription Charges

The health news website STAT reported on June 21, 2019, that a KHN-Johns Hopkins analysis of Medicare data showed that doctors across the United States overprescribed opioids for scores of patients between 2011 and 2016. The study examined 350,000 prescriptions written by 20,000 physicians during that time period and found that total amounts often exceeded the amounts recommended by numerous guidelines.

STAT noted that some doctors prescribed over 100 pills for the week after surgery, even though most guidelines call for 0 to 10 pills in such cases. STAT also reported that opioids caused 42,249 deaths in 2016 after being connected to 33,091 deaths in 2015.

If you have been arrested for a drug crime relating to opioids in North Texas, you will want to quickly find yourself an experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney. The Law Office of Patrick J. McLain has helped many clients fight these criminal charges and achieve the most favorable outcome resulting in the fewest possible penalties.

Criminal Consequences of Opioids

Opioids are classified into different schedules under both the federal Controlled Substances Act and the Texas Controlled Substance Act. Depending on the type of opioid a person possesses, criminal charges relating to illegal possession could be a felony or a misdemeanor.

Schedule I opioids carry the most severe penalties, although many opioids fall under Schedule II classification. Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.067 establishes that a record must be created to keep and report all prescriptions for controlled substances listed in Schedule II.

Opioid Crime Defenses

Some people may be charged with opioid crimes when they possess an opioid they do not have a valid prescription for. The same individuals may have still had opioids leftover from their last prescription, and they could still be charged with possession even when there was no criminal intent.

In many cases, there can be possible constitutional issues relating to the search or seizure that led to your criminal charges. When law enforcement obtains opioids through an illegal search or seizure, it will typically prevent that evidence from being presented at trial and the prosecutor must abandon the case.

Many people charged with opioid possession may have been completely unaware that they were even carrying the drugs. It is also possible that a person who illegally possessed an opioid had pursued the drug because of addiction even though they could not get another prescription for the opioid.

Opioid Penalties in Texas

Drug possession crimes in Texas depend on the type of drug that was allegedly possessed as well as the amount of that drug. The Texas Controlled Substances Act divides opioids into Penalty Groups instead of the Drug Schedules used by federal law, and most opioids are typically classified in Penalty Group 1, Penalty Group 1-A, Penalty Group 2.

Possession of less than 1 gram an opioid in Penalty Group 1 is a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in state jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000, more than 1 gram but less than 4 grams is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000, more than 4 grams but less than 200 grams is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in state jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000, more than 200 grams but less than 400 grams is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000, and over 400 grams is also a first-degree felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000.

For Penalty Group 1-A, 20 or fewer abuse units is a state jail felony; more than 20 abuse units but less than 80 is a third-degree felony, more than 80 but less than 4,000 is a second-degree felony, more than 4,000 units and less than 8,000 units is a first-degree felony, and over 8,000 units is a minimum of 15 up to 99 years or life in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000.

Possession of less than 1 gram of an opioid in Penalty Group 2 is a state jail felony, more than 1 gram but less than 4 grams is a third-degree felony, more than 4 grams but less than 400 grams is a second-degree felony, and over 400 grams is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000.

Contact a Dallas Criminal Defense Attorney Today

The Law Office of Patrick J. McLain is ready and able to fight your opioid charges. Our firm has represented countless individuals all over Texas who have been arrested for various kinds of alleged opioid offenses.

We will actively work to get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. Call our firm today (214) 238-9392 to schedule a completely free, no-obligation consultation and discuss your case.

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