Understanding how drug types affect drug charges

On Behalf of | Feb 11, 2021 | Drug Charges

A prescription drug conviction in Pennsylvania can affect your job outlook, living arrangements and ability to get a car or school loan. Several factors determine the penalties and how it affects the rest of your life. 

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration reports certain chemicals and substances used to make drugs and drugs have five schedules or categories. 

Drug categories

The greater the potential for abuse and the smaller its medicinal value, the higher the schedule rating and penalty. 

  • Schedule I substances have little to no medical use but a high potential for abuse and addiction. They include MDMA (ecstasy), LSD, heroin, marijuana. 
  • Schedule II drugs have severe restrictions on use due to their high abuse potential. They include methamphetamines, oxycodone and cocaine. Although you can get a prescription for oxycodone, medical professionals have strict guidelines for use. 
  • Schedule III substances have higher therapeutic values than schedule II drugs and less potential for abuse. They include ketamine Vicodin, anabolic steroids and some barbiturates. 
  • Schedule IV and V drugs have medical acceptability and low abuse potential. They include Xanax, Soma, valium, Klonopin and cough suppressants with codeine and other chemicals available by prescription. 

The charge and penalty depend on the drug schedule category and whether you face a first or subsequent offense. 

Conviction penalties

If the charge is felony possession with the intent to sell or deliver, you may face fines up to $250,000 per count and prison terms up to five years. Misdemeanor possession of the drug or paraphernalia could result in fines up to $5,000 and a year in jail. Felony convictions result in loss of drivers’ license, prohibition on owning a firearm and other civil liberties. 

If you face federal drug crimes, fines can double, and prison could be a life sentence. Understanding your options can help you determine a defense that can deliver the best possible outcome.