Schedule V drugs have the least potential for addiction and abuse under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, but it doesn’t mean that they’re charged lower on the scale of criminal drug charges. It’s possible for you to be prosecuted under both state and federal laws if you’re caught possessing, distributing, selling, or manufacturing Schedule V drugs.
If your drug arrest involves Schedule V drugs, and you are charged with a felony level offense, you will be sentenced based on Pennsylvania’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
Schedule V drugs are used medically in the U.S. and are available by prescription. They contain small amounts of codeine or opium, and are usually used as antidiarrheals, antitussives or analgesics. They include Robitussin AC, Lomotil, Lyrica, Parepectolin, and Motofen.
Penalties for Schedule V Drugs
For a first offense of possession of an illegal substance, you can face up to a year in jail and/or a fine up to $5,000.
With any Schedule V drug-related conviction, for six months for a first offense, one year for a second offense, and two years for a third offense.
If convicted, you will have a criminal record that can negatively affect your ability to get a job, join the military, obtain certain professional licenses, or be admitted to graduate school.
In Pennsylvania, you have possession of a controlled substance when you own or possess it. If the controlled substance is available by prescription, and you are caught with the drug but without a valid prescription for it, you can be charged.
For you to be convicted of possessing a controlled substance, prosecutors must prove:
- You knowingly and intentionally had control of an illegal drug.
- You knew the drugs were illegal, you knew the drugs were present, and you intended to use or control them.
- You either had actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance. In other words, you had the drug on your person, such as in your pocket, or in a spot that you had control over, like the trunk of your car or hidden under your bed.
Selling or Intending to Sell a Schedule V Drug
If you are caught with a controlled substance in your possession, the courts in Pennsylvania can punish you harshly. But if you are arrested for selling, or intending to sell, those same drugs, the penalties you face will be even more severe.
If you are charged with selling or intending to sell a Schedule V drug, you risk being sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
In Pennsylvania, the judge will use the specific circumstances of your case as part of the equation when he or she determines your sentence. You can receive heavier penalties based on factors such as drug amount, weapons involvement, prior convictions and whether you were arrested near a school.
What Pennsylvania Law Says About Drugs
Under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, it is prohibited to knowingly or intentionally possess drugs (or fake drugs) unless you have a prescription. A violation of this is a misdemeanor. It is also prohibited to manufacture, deliver, or possess with the intent to deliver drugs unless you are licensed to do so. A violation of this is a felony.
A controlled substance classified as Schedule V (or a counterfeit substance) is charged with a misdemeanor. A conviction could mean prison for up to one year, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Steps to Take if You Have Been Charged
If you have been charged with a drug offense, your first step should be to immediately hire a lawyer experienced with drug charges.
An experienced Pittsburgh drug lawyer will have worked with the prosecutors handling your case many times before. They can draw on their relationships and understanding of the local court system to lessen or dismiss your charges.
Don’t talk to the police or prosecutors unless your attorney is with you.
Your lawyer will go over what happened both before and after your arrest. Importantly, he or she will assess whether there was probable cause to charge you with a crime. This includes determining if the drugs really belonged to you.
If you were arrested for a drug crime while you were in your car, a critical aspect of your case will be whether or not the police had probable cause to pull you over and do a search. If there was not probable cause, the evidence obtained by law enforcement can be suppressed.