Is it illegal to share my prescription medication?

Sharing prescription medication is potentially a felony in Wisconsin:

Sharing prescription medications seems simple.  One family member shares a valid prescription with another.  Let’s assume neither of these family members suffers from any kind of drug addiction.  Neither are drug-seeking individuals.  One family member has a prescription he’s not using and is simply looking to help out the other family member.

Unfortunately the act of sharing a prescription medication is illegal.  How serious the offense is differs based on the substance involved and the circumstances surrounding the transfer.

The criminal defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office regularly defend drug crimes.  Whether you’re facing charges for sharing prescription drugs, or something more serious, we can certainly help you.  Contact our criminal defense attorneys immediately at (414) 270-0202 and let’s start talking about your case.

If you obtain a prescription with the purpose of sharing it:

If you’ve ever attended a relatively competitive university, it should come as no surprise that sometimes individuals obtain prescriptions for one purpose: sharing or selling them with others.  (Think Adderall.)

In the eyes of the law, profit by selling a prescription does not matter.  Sharing a prescription is punishable by the same statute as selling the prescription.

Section 450.11(7)(g) of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits possession of a prescription drug with intent to deliver.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 6110 provides us with the elements of this offense:

  • Firstly, the defendant possessed a substance; and
  • Secondly, the substance was a prescription drug; and
  • Thirdly, the defendant knew or believed that the substance was a prescription drug; and
  • Finally, the defendant intended to deliver a prescription drug.

Getting to our previous discussion regarding delivery versus sharing, the jury instruction also provides some very important definitions:

  1. “Deliver” means to transfer or attempt to transfer from one person to another.
  2. “Intend to deliver” means the defendant had the purpose to deliver.

You’ll notice that neither of these definitions requires the defendant to profit from the sale.  Obtaining a prescription with the intent to share it is the same as selling it.

Finally, the punishment for this offense is severe: any person who possess with intent to deliver a prescription medication is guilty of a Class H felony.  A Class H felony is punishable by up to 6 years in prison, $10,000.00 in fines, or both.  Obviously committing this offense while a student at university carries additional punishments, including the possibility of expulsion.

What happens if I simply possess a drug without a valid prescription?

Possession of a prescription medication, unless obtained with a valid prescription, is illegal.  This specific offense is an unclassified misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and $500.00 in fines.  It does not matter whether the substance is controlled or not.  Section 450.11(7)(h) of the Wisconsin statutes prohibits this offense.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 6112 defines possession of a prescription drug without valid prescription:

  • Firstly, the defendant possessed a prescription drug; and
  • Secondly, the defendant knew or believed that the substance was a prescription drug; and
  • Thirdly, the prescription drug was not dispensed to the defendant upon a prescription order issued by a practitioner.

This is a relatively simple and straightforward offense.  The defendant possessed the drug, he knew it was a prescription drug, and he knew he didn’t have a valid prescription.  For example, azithromycin is a drug commonly used to treat a variety of bacterial infections.  It is not a narcotic.  It is not a controlled substance.  You cannot obtain it over the counter.  If you possess azithromycin without a valid prescription, it is the misdemeanor described above.

Finally, the law does not require that the defendant possess a specific amount to be charged with the offense.  Instead, any amount is sufficient.

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Obtaining a prescription medication by fraud

Various parts of Section 450.11(7) of the Wisconsin Statutes deals with obtaining a prescription drug using fraud.  While this blog post deals with the common situation involving exchanging prescription medication between family and friends, that situation could easily evolve into one involving trying to obtain a prescription using fraud.  While this is certainly a serious offense, the penalty is the same as possession of a prescription medication without a valid prescription: an unclassified misdemeanor.  This specific unclassified misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of $500.00 and 6 months in jail, or both.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 6100 describes obtaining a prescription by fraud.  The elements of the offense include:

  • Firstly, the defendant obtained a prescription drug; and
  • Secondly, the defendant knew or believed that the substance was a prescription drug; and
  • Thirdly, the defendant obtained the prescription drug by a willful misrepresentation.

The third element requires a few additional things:

  • The defendant must have intended to deceive someone and intended to induce the person to rely and act on the misrepresentation; and
  • The person must have been deceived by the misrepresentation, and relied on the misrepresentation.

Finally, delivery of a controlled substance

This is the big one.  But it requires a few conditions: the prescription be a controlled substance.  And it be actually delivered.  There are many controlled substances in Wisconsin law, but here are a few:

Codeine, alprazolam (Xanax), carisoprodol (Soma), clonazepam (Klonopin), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), midazolam (Versed), temazepam (Restoril), triazolam (Halcion), suprenorphine (Subozone), denzphetamine (Didrex), phendimetrazine, ketamine, testosterone (Depo), hydromorphine (Dilaudid), methadone (Dolophine), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContine, Percocet), fentanyl (Sublimaze, Duragesic), opium, ampetamine (Dexedrine, Adderall), methamphetamine (Desoxyn), methylphenidate (Ritalin).

Although certain specific offenses carry higher penalties, delivering a controlled substance is a felony.

  • Schedule 1 and 2 drugs narcotics – Class E felony
  • Schedule 1, 2, and 3 narcotics – Class H felony; and
  • Schedule 4 drugs – Class H felony

Section 961.41(1) of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits delivery of a controlled substance.  Wisconsin criminal jury instruction 6020 breaks down this offense into easily-digestible elements:

  • Firstly, the defendant delivered a substance;
  • Secondly, the substance was a controlled substance.  The delivery of this controlled substance is prohibited by law; and
  • Finally, the defendant knew or believed that the substance was the specific controlled substance.
Possession of prescription drugs
Sharing prescription medication charges range from mitigated misdemeanors to serious felonies. Contact our criminal defense attorneys today for help. (414) 270-0202

Contact the drug crime criminal defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office today

The criminal defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office regularly defend individuals facing drug charges.  Whether your charges involve prescription drugs or not, we can help.  But if they do involve prescription drugs, hopefully this blog post helped you begin to navigate through the issue you’re facing.

Drug charges can be incredibly serious, and things can quickly move from a simple “in the family” situation to one involving felonies and potential time in prison.  Frequently prosecutors don’t care about the relationships involved and simply want to secure criminal convictions.

We understand what you’re going through and what you’re facing.  This situation could be the very worst you’ve ever faced and you’re scared.  Feeling embarrassed is also natural.  But we want to help, and our team can do that.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 and we’ll set up a time for you to come into the office for a free initial consultation.  After that we’ll figure out how to proceed with your case.

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