Can You Go to Jail for Giving a Prescription Drug to a Friend?

Can You Go to Jail for Giving a Prescription Drug to a Friend?

We’ve all been in this position: a friend is suffering from a terrible migraine or is in some other sort of pain.  You were prescribed pain killers from the last time you had surgery but you never used them.

Thinking you are being generous, you say, “Here, you can have one of these.” After all, you don’t plan to use them yourself.  Why have them go to waste? What’s the big deal after all?

Unfortunately, as soon as you make this move you are actually committing a crime. If your friend takes you up on it, your friend is committing a crime too.

Sharing a prescription drug makes you a drug dealer under New York Law.

You don’t have to get any money or goods to be committing a crime. The act of giving that painkiller to your friend puts you in violation of New York’s controlled substance law. The charge would typically be “Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance” either in the fifth or the third degree, depending on what the substance is.

These are both felonies and come with the same penalties associated with similar felonies committed by professional drug dealers. The fifth-degree offense could mean 2.5 years in jail. The third-degree offense could mean up to 9 years in jail.

Taking a prescription drug makes you guilty of possession.

Your friend can be charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree. This is a Class A misdemeanor, which means they could face up to one year in jail.

Obviously you won’t be helping your friend in the long term if you give them that drug in the short term.

Tragedy: The Bigger Concern

Nine times out of ten, people will commit this crime and never get caught. Their friend will take the drug, they’ll feel better, and everyone will walk away happy.

It’s that tenth awful time you’ve got to worry about. The time that reminds you that prescriptions are prescriptions for a reason.

That’s the moment your friend has a life-threatening allergic reaction. Or that drug that’s harmless to you interacts with some other medication your friend is taking. Suddenly your friend is being rushed to the hospital in a life-threatening situation.  For you, this can mean facing a host of other consequences in addition to possibly losing your friend.

Just imagine telling a doctor that you gave your friend one of your pain pills.  Imagine having to have that conversation while wondering if your friend is going to make it through the night!

In short, it’s best to keep your pills in the bottle in your medicine cabinet or flush them down the toilet. Offer some other, non-prescription form of pain relief, if necessary.

How a Criminal Attorney Can Help

Most courts recognize that people who hand a pill to their friend aren’t exactly hardened drug dealers. So an attorney can help, even in cases where your guilt is clear-cut and a trial is unlikely to result in an acquittal.

For example, an attorney can try to convince the prosecutor to dismiss the case, or to pursue an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal on your behalf, allowing you to maintain a clean record as long as you stay out of trouble for six months. You may have other options as well, depending on the facts of your case. You won’t know until you reach out to a qualified criminal defense attorney.

If you’re in trouble for trying to help a friend, don’t wait. Contact the Law Offices of Julie Rendelman today.

See also:

Can I Get a DUI for Taking a Benadryl?

Can You Really Get My Criminal Case Dismissed?

5 Dumb Moves to Avoid When You’re Facing Criminal Charges in NYC