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Controlled substances can lead to drug charges

The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 set the precedent for the legal definition of a controlled substance. The substances that are included in the CSA are illegal for people to possess in the United States; however, exceptions are made for people who have valid prescriptions for certain substances. Being caught by police officers when you don't have a valid prescription can land you in legal trouble.

Drugs that are part of the CSA are divided by five schedules. Each schedule is numbered.

-- Schedule I drugs, such as heroin and LSD, have a high potential for abuse. These drugs don't have any accepted medical uses and considered to be unsafe.

-- Schedule II drugs, such as OxyContin and methamphetamine, can cause physical and psychological dependence. They have a high potential for abuse.

-- Schedule III drugs, such as anabolic steroids and Vicodin, might lead to physical or psychological dependence. These drugs aren't considered as addictive as Schedule I and Schedule II drugs.

-- Schedule IV drugs, such as Valium and Xanax, don't have the potential for abuse that the Schedule I, Schedule II and Schedule III drugs have.

-- Schedule V drugs, such as cough syrups that contain codeine, have limited amounts of narcotics.

The penalties for anyone who violates the CSA depends on the amount of the drug that is found and the specific drug that is found. Generally, the penalties are harsher for Schedule I drug convictions than Schedule V drug convictions. If you are facing criminal charges related to prescription drug violations, learning your options and how to protect your rights can help you as you move through the criminal justice system.

Source: FindLaw, "What Is a Controlled Substance?," accessed Aug. 17, 2015

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