Opioids are a type of drug typically used to treat pain but can have addictive qualities. Many of these drugs are prescribed by a doctor such Fentanyl and OxyContin. Utah law considers opioids to be a controlled substance, meaning it’s illegal to possess, distribute, sell or manufacture them. Violation of these laws will result in serious penalties including expensive fines and even jail or prison time.
If you or someone you know has been charged with possessing opioids, then it’s crucial you have legal representation ready. The penalties associated with opioid crimes are incredibly serious and you could face future difficulties obtaining housing or employment. To avoid the severe consequences, it’s advised you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Have you been charged with possession or sale of opioids? It’s important you are informed on what could happen next. Opioids are a “high risk” drug, so the penalties associated with it could uproot your life. You may be required to pay steep fines and even spend time behind bars.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug crime, contact Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law. Susanne Gustin is an experienced attorney who has represented numerous people in drug related cases. She can assist you by formulating a strong defense plan. Call (801) 243-2814 today to set up a free consultation with attorney Gustin today.
Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law defends people throughout the greater Salt Lake County and Weber County area including Salt Lake City, West Valley City, Ogden, and Pleasant View.
Overview of Opioid Crimes in Utah
An opioid is a type of controlled substance that mimics opioid receptors in your brain. What happens when these receptors are activated is your brain sends out a signal to create a calm and euphoric feeling. Normally, synthetic opioids are used for medicinal purposes such as relieving pain. These synthetic opioids are commonly prescribed by a doctor after an accident or serious injury.
Some examples of synthetic opioids include:
Opiates derived from natural alkaloids are also opioids. These drugs are semi-synthetic and are rarely used in a medical setting. They are normally bought on the street or through an illegal trade. Some examples of semi-synthetic opioids include:
The United States is currently undergoing a public health emergency known as the Opioid Crisis or Opioid Epidemic. This is because there was an increase of opioid prescriptions in the 1990s. Pharmaceutical companies had reassured the medical community that patients wouldn’t be addicted to these medications. That fact turned out to be further from the truth.
Most of these prescriptions were for injury or surgery-related issues and treated the symptoms of chronic pain. The increased prescriptions led to a widespread misuse of opioid prescriptions. Patients would become dependent on the drug to function after a certain period and once their prescription ran up, they turned to street opioids.
The waterfall of events led to an increased use of both prescription and non-prescription opioids in the United States. In 2017, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department reported 11.4 million people abused prescription opioids in the U.S. The following are some opioid epidemic statistics collected by HHS in 2017:
Utah has implemented the Controlled Substances Act to classify controlled substances. These classifications are known as schedules and divide controlled substances by their potential for addiction and medicinal usage. Because opioids are considered a “dangerous” drug, they are classified under the schedule I or schedule II, which carry the harshest penalties.
Schedule I drugs are considered to have the highest risk of abuse and are hardly used in the medical field. Opioids found under schedule I include:
Schedule II drugs also have a high potential for chemical dependency but are often used in the medical industry to relieve pain. Opioids found under schedule II include:
Other drug schedules that don’t include opioids are:
The penalties for possessing opioids depend on the drug’s classification and your criminal history. According to Utah Code 58-37-8 it’s unlawful in Utah to:
Possessing an opioid under schedule I or II is a class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by:
If you have two prior convictions for possessing a schedule I or II drug, then it’s enhanced to a third-degree felony. The penalties for a third-degree felony include:
Property owners who allow people to use opioids on their property or possess a forged prescription to obtain opioids or opiates will be charged with a class B misdemeanor, which can result in:
A second conviction will lead to a class A misdemeanor that can result in:
Third or subsequent offense will result in a third-degree felony, which is punishable by:
Selling, distributing opioids or creating false prescriptions to obtain them is also illegal. A first or second conviction for distributing opioids is a class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by:
A third or subsequent conviction will lead to a third-degree felony, which can result in:
Certain situational factors of the crime could enhance your penalties, these are referred to as aggravating factors. If one or more aggravating factors are present during the crime, then your penalties will be elevated by one degree. For example, if you possessed an opioid like heroin, you’ll be charged with a class A misdemeanor. However, if the court finds out you possessed heroin while on public school grounds, your penalties will be enhanced to a third-degree felony.
Your penalties will be elevated if you commit a drug-related crime in or near:
Utah Drug Laws – Visit the official website of the Utah State Legislature to learn more about their Controlled Substances Act. Access their drug schedules, prohibited acts and penalties for those acts, as well as relatable offenses.
Understanding the Opioid Epidemic – Visit the official website of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to learn more about the United States crisis with opioids. Learn theories on why the spread of opioids has skyrocketed, statistics and how to prevent opioid deaths.
If you or someone you know has been charged with an opioid-related crime, it’s crucial you have legal counsel. Without the right representation, you could be sentenced to pay hefty fines and spend time in jail or prison. Gain a trusted advocate today with Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law.
Susanne Gustin is a skilled attorney with years of experience defending people from drug crimes. Using her resources and knowledge, attorney Gustin can provide an effective defense. Call (801) 243-2814 now to schedule a consultation. Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law represents people throughout the Salt Lake City area including West Valley City, Pleasant View, and Ogden.