Taking another person’s prescription medication might seem like a good idea when you have something wrong and can’t make it to the doctor right then. Deciding to do this can lead to criminal charges for you and the person who provides you with the medications. Unfortunately, this is a difficult situation to find yourself in.

State and federal laws dictate who is allowed to take prescription drugs. Pharmacies are only allowed to give out these medications to individuals who have a script from a doctor. The containers note that they can’t be given to a person who isn’t named on the label.

Why are prescriptions tightly regulated?

Prescriptions aren’t suitable for anyone to take. Instead, the doctor who prescribes them has to consider what dosage is appropriate, and they must determine if there may be contraindications. Because these medications come with risks if they aren’t used properly, they are highly regulated. Some prescriptions are on the schedule of controlled substances, which means they are more highly regulated than others.

Your body might not react suitably to a prescription. Taking too much of some medications, such as Xanax, oxycontin or sleeping pills could have fatal results. By adjusting the dosage according to your age, weight, height and other factors, doctors can minimize the chance of this happening.

Why are criminal charges placed against individuals with other people’s prescriptions?

It is illegal to buy, sell, give away or accept prescriptions. Police officers have great discretion when it comes to how they handle prescription drug matters. For example, they might not arrest a parent who has a prescription bottle of Ritalin for their child, but they may charge another adult. Typically, they will arrest a person who has a controlled substance that doesn’t belong to them.

Prescription medications must be transported in the container with the pharmacy label on it. You can face charges if you have pills in your pocket that aren’t in a bottle. Some officers might allow you to show that you do have a valid prescription, but this is handled according to department protocol.

Offering a defense to prescription drug charges can be challenging. You have to look at all the circumstances related to the incident so you can determine where to place your focus. In some cases, such as when addiction is at the heart of the case, alternative programs like drug court, might be a viable option to consider.