If you are caught with a prescription medication/controlled substance and do not have a valid prescription for it, you can be charged with possession of a controlled substance without legal cause. In Washington, this is a felony offense. If you were charged with this crime after law enforcement found prescription medication or other drugs in your possession, you’ll need to contact a reputable drug crime defense attorney immediately to begin working on your case.

Washington Possession Laws

RCW 69.50.4013(1) provides the following: “It is unlawful for any person to possess a controlled substance unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his or her professional practice.”

The exception to this rule is marijuana. Possession of legally obtained marijuana within the proper limits by someone who is 21 or older is not guilty of a possession crime in the state of Washington.

What drugs are considered controlled substances?

Washington statutes contain an extremely long list of prescription drugs and other substances that are considered controlled substances, which are categorized in Schedules II through V of Chapter 69.50 RCW. The federal government ranked and categorized the drugs based on the drugs’ potential risk for addiction, and the state adopted the rules. Schedule I contains the most addictive substances; there are no prescription drugs within this category. Schedule V has the lowest risk of addiction.

There are dozens upon dozens of illegal substances that subject those caught in possession of them to stiff penalties. Our team has been defending those charged with drug crimes for more than 35 years. Below are some of the most common drugs in each Schedule for which our clients have been accused of possessing without legal cause.

  • Schedule II – oxycodone, fentanyl, Demerol and hydromorphone
  • Schedule III – This category includes anabolic steroids, as well as combination drugs that have less than 15 percent hydrocodone, such as Vicodin, and drugs with less than 90 mg of codeine, such as Tylenol with codeine.
  • Schedule IV – This category includes sleep medications and other prescriptions such as Xanax, Soma, clonazepam (Klonopin), Valium and lorazepam (Ativan).
  • Schedule V – cough medicines with less than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters

Possible Penalties for Possession of a Drug without a Prescription

Possession of a controlled substance without legal cause is considered a Class C felony in Washington. A conviction can bring the following possible penalties.

  • Five years’ imprisonment
  • $10,000 fine
  • Both the fine and imprisonment

The gravity of possible penalties means you do not want to face the prosecutor and the courts without representation. Sometimes, your attorney only has to help you locate and provide your prescription to the prosecutor to have your charges dropped.

Unfortunately, even if you bring evidence that validates your cause for carrying the drug, it still may be an uphill battle because the prosecution might claim it’s a fraudulent prescription or that you obtained the prescription via doctor shopping. You case can also be complicated by accusations that you intended to distribute the substance illegally. You’ll want to have a lawyer defend your case so that you can preempt these types of arguments and help fight for the best possible resolution.

Speak to a Drug Crimes Defense Attorney in Washington

If you’ve been charged with possession of a controlled substance without legal cause, we encourage you to call Daryl L. Graves, PLLC for help. We can review your case and determine how best to approach it. In some cases, this may mean fighting to have the charged dropped, while in others, it might mean to plea bargain or ask for a diversion program.

Call us today at 253-383-7777 and discuss your case with one of our criminal defense lawyers.