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Prescription Drugs

People often associate drug crimes with illegal narcotics, such as marijuana, heroin or cocaine. However, some people may not realize they could be arrested and charged with a criminal offense because of a prescription drug. If a person is merely in possession of a prescription drug without a valid prescription, he or she could face charges.

Iowa law outlines several actions associated with prescription drugs that could be considered illegal, including selling them to another person. These charges can carry serious penalties, including jail time and expensive fines. Additionally, a prescription drug conviction could make obtaining these substances for medical use in the future difficult.

Des Moines Prescription Drug Attorney

If you have been accused of possessing, selling or distributing a prescription drug, contact a Des Moines prescription drug lawyer at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. The attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. have years of experience advocating on behalf of clients facing serious drug charges. No matter the situation, they can help you protect your future.

Call (515) 279-9700 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how to build a strong defense against the charges. McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. represents clients throughout Polk County and Dallas County, including those in Des Moines, West Des Moines and Ankeny.


Information About Prescription Drug Charges


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What is a Valid Prescription?

In Iowa, a person must have a valid prescription to possess certain substances legally. To be valid, according to Iowa Code 155A.27, each prescription drug order issued or dispensed in the state must be based on a valid patient-practitioner relationship.

If the prescription is written, electronic or facsimile, it must include the following information:

  • The date of the issue;
  • The name and address of the patient for whom, or the owner of the animal, for which the drug is dispensed;
  • The name, strength and quantity of the drug, medicine or device prescribed;
  • The directions for use of the drug, medicine or device prescribed;
  • The name, address and written or electronic signature of the practitioner issuing the prescription; and
  • The federal drug enforcement administration number, if it is required.

If the prescription is electronic, the practitioner must ensure the system used to transmit the prescription had adequate security and system safeguards to prevent unauthorized access, modification or manipulation. He or she also must provide verbal verification of the prescription.

If a person is found to have a prescription drug in his or her possession, in order to avoid criminal charges, proof of a valid prescription could be necessary. Keeping the label on the prescription and keeping the substance in the appropriate bottle could be critical.


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Possession of a Prescription Drug

Under Iowa Code 155A.21, a person in possession of a prescription drug without a valid prescription could face a serious misdemeanor. This could be punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine between $250 and $1,500 or both. However, if the drug was a controlled substance, the crime could be considered possession of a controlled substance.  

Iowa classifies controlled substances based on schedules, similar to federal standards. Some prescription drugs could be classified as Schedule II substances, such as oxycodone, methadone and morphine. These require a properly executed, manually signed prescription and they cannot include refills. Prescription drugs can be found in other schedules, as well.

Possession charges can carry serious penalties. A first offense is a misdemeanor, which could mean up to one year in jail and a fine up to $1,875. The second offense also is a misdemeanor, with up to a two-year sentence and fines up to $6,250. The third offense, and any offense after, is a felony. This could mean up to five years in prison and a fine up to $7,500.


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Sale of a Prescription Drug

Any person who sells or offers for sale, gives away or administers to another person any prescription drug or device in violation of Iowa law commits a public offense, according to Iowa Code 155A.24.

If the prescription drug is a controlled substance, the person could face Class B felony charges. The penalties for the offense would be determined by the type and amount of substance involved.

If the prescription drug is not a controlled substance, a first offense would be a serious misdemeanor. This could include up to one year in jail, a fine between $250 and $1,500 or both.

A second offense is an aggravated misdemeanor, which could be punishable by up to two years in prison, a fine between $500 and $5,000 or both. A third or subsequent offense is a Class D felony. This could mean up to five years in prison, a fine between $750 and $7,500 or both.

A person accused of selling, giving away or administering any prescription drug or device to a minor is guilty of a Class C felony. This could be punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine between $1,000 and $10,000 or both.


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Prescription Drug Fraud

Under Iowa Code 155A.23, a person cannot obtain or attempt to obtain a prescription drug or procure or attempt to procure a prescription drug through fraud, deceit, misinterpretation, forgery, concealing a material fact or using a false name or false address. This could be considered prescription fraud.

Other examples of prescription fraud under Iowa law include:

  • Willfully making a false statement in any prescription report;
  • Falsely assuming the title of physician, veterinarian, manufacturer or wholesaler to obtain a prescription drug;
  • Making or uttering any false or forged oral, written, electronic or other prescription;
  • Forging, counterfeiting, simulating or falsely representing any drug without the authorization of the manufacturer;
  • Repackaging, selling, delivering or selling any drug that is misbranded or counterfeit ;
  • Distributing a drug to a patient without a prescription drug order; and
  • Adulterating, destroying or removing any part of the labeling of a drug to cause it to be misbranded or labeled as something else.

The penalties for prescription fraud in Iowa can vary based on the offense. Under state law, the offense often is considered a Class D or Class C felony. This could mean jail time, expensive fines and other consequences.


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Finding a Prescription Drug Lawyer in Polk County

If you have been charged with possessing, selling or obtaining prescription drugs through illegal means, contact the skilled Des Moines prescription drug attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. The experienced legal team can will fight for your rights and seek to have your charges reduced or dismissed. Call (515) 279-9700 to schedule a free consultation.