Opioids have been in the news the past few years because too many people are dying from overdoses. Defendants who are charged with selling opioids and related drugs can face lengthy jail sentences, huge fines, loss of reputation, and civil lawsuits.
According to Drugpolicy.org, “Opioids are a class of drugs that act on opioid receptors in the brain. Signals sent to these receptors can block pain and lead to feelings of euphoria.” Opioids come in various forms – pills, powders, liquids, tars, and others. They vary in their potential for addition, their potency, and how long the effects of the drugs last.
Some of the various types of opioids include:
- Fentanyl. This is a powerful opiate-based painkiller. Doctors were supposed to prescribe it for acute pain associated with terminal illnesses, like cancer. It’s a Schedule II drug. “Its effects are active at much lower doses than other opiates, so its non-medical use is riskier due to its increased potency.” Overdose deaths are often due to mixing fentanyl with heroin.
- Morphine. This drug comes from the opium poppy plant. It is also prescribed to alleviate pain. In Tennessee it is considered a Schedule II drug which can lead to dependency and misuse.
- Heroin. This drug is processed from morphine. It’s a Schedule I substance which means, unlike fentanyl and morphine, it has no accepted medical use. Almost all heroin in the US is illegal.
Other opioids include Oxycodone and Hydrocodone which are chemically similar to morphine. Methadone and Buprenorphine are FDA approved opioids used to treat opioid addiction.
Types of opioid drug offenses
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Opioid use disorders are highly prevalent among criminal justice populations. According to data from the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately half of state and federal prisoners meet criteria for substance use disorder.”
Opioid crimes include the following:
- Possession. Unless you have a valid medical prescription, possession of any opiate is considered a crime.
- Prescription fraud. People who become addicted to opiates and people who want to profit off those who are addicted can be charged with a crime if they forge a prescription in an attempt to purchase the drugs from a pharmacy.
- Drug trafficking and distribution. These laws criminalize selling, transporting, and the importing of illegal controlled substances. Drug trafficking and distribution charges are generally felonies and carry very severe jail terms and penalties. If you are in possession of large quantities of opioids or other drugs, the police may charge with you trafficking because they think you’re going to sell the drugs. Drug trafficking laws do apply to selling prescription drugs – even if you have a prescription.
Depending on where the police think you sold or distributed any drugs, you could be charged with federal crimes in addition to state crimes.
There are often defenses to drug charges. The government must have had grounds to search you on your home. The drugs do need to be examined for their content. The prosecution has the burden of proving the criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt. If charged, you have a right to cross-examine the witnesses against you.
At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, we aggressively defend your constitutional rights. We aim for acquittals and work to have the evidence against you suppressed. When appropriate, we work to negotiate plea agreements on your behalf. We’re ready to try your case before a jury if the case can’t be dismissed or a plea agreement can’t be reached. We fight for the accused in Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the surrounding Tennessee locations. To speak with a tough Sevierville drug charge defense attorney, call (865) 428-8780 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.