Sharing pills, driving under the influence, or taking pills that are not prescribed for you, are just some of the ways you can end up in prison.

Prescription Drug Abuse Risks Felony Charges

jailcellA felony is a serious crime that results in a prison sentence or even the death penalty. For example, murder, arson, robbery and rape are felonies.

People don’t realize that common activities involving prescription drugs could easily lead to felony charges:

  • Operating a vehicle under the influence of prescription drugs
  • Possessing controlled prescription drugs without a prescription
  • Providing (selling or giving) controlled prescription drugs to another person — and if they die from that drug, you will likely be charged with manslaughter, or even homicide.

Prescription drugs cause serious personal and legal problems. You can stop the trap of prescription drug abuse by getting off the drugs now before they result in a felony or prison time.

At Novus, we save lives by helping people get off prescription drugs faster, and more comfortably, every day. We can help too.

“Coming to Novus helped me realize there is no shame in getting some help.”

Driving under the influence

Everyone is aware that drinking alcohol and driving can get you in trouble. They know that they can be arrested for driving under the influence (“DUI”) and that this can cost them:

  • Money
  • A driver’s license
  • Their freedom

However, fewer people realize that driving under the influence (DUI) does not just apply to alcohol. Someone whose ability to drive is impaired by prescription drugs can also be charged with a DUI. This is because prescription drugs can reduce a person’s reaction time at least as much as alcohol.

More and more states are doing toxicology tests for prescription drugs when there are serious injuries from vehicle accidents. More and more they are finding evidence of these prescription drugs.

In a recent case, a Rochester, New Hampshire grand jury indicted Amy Steadman, 27, and charged her with Class B felonies of second-degree assault and aggravated DWI (driving while intoxicated) stemming from an accident that injured others while she was under the influence of oxycodone and methadone.

Felony charges

Generally, a felony is a crime that is punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year. Examples of felonies are:

  • Murder
  • Possession or selling of illegal drugs
  • Possession or selling of prescription drugs not prescribed to you
  • Robbery
  • Rape

Prescription Drug Felony

Under federal and state law, possession of certain controlled substances (prescription drugs) is a felony. Some of the narcotic prescription drugs that are most commonly abused because they really contain prescription grade heroin are:

  • Lortab
  • Lorcet
  • OxyContin
  • Oxycodone
  • Vicodin
  • Methadone
  • Percocet

In many states, the possession of these prescription narcotic drugs that were not prescribed for you will result in mandatory prison sentences. For example, in Florida, a person who is convicted of being in possession of:

  • Four to six pills (some tablets contain a larger amount of the drug, i.e. 40 milligrams or 80 milligrams) of these narcotic drugs–a three year mandatory prison sentence;
  • 25-30 pills—15 year mandatory prison sentence;
  • 80-100 pills—25 year mandatory prison sentence;

Examples of problems


A friend asks you to bring six OxyContin pills in a plastic bag to a party. You are stopped at a stop light and a policeman sees the bag on the seat. He has probable cause to check the pills and arrests you for illegal possession. In Florida, if convicted, you will receive a three year minimum sentence.


A friend has a backache. You give him six OxyContin pills that were prescribed to your mother. If discovered, your friend is guilty of possession and you may be guilty of trafficking—both felonies.

Novus Medical Detox Center helps people get through prescription drug detox safely and comfortably AND avoid the complications of felony charges.

Call us NOW

Our Detox Advisors are here and ready to take your call seven days week.

Felony conviction

If you are convicted of a felony for drug possession or trafficking, you will find yourself denied many opportunities and rights. Among the problems created are:

  • Prison
  • Loss of the right to vote
  • Loss of the right to possess firearms
  • Inability, without much difficulty, to:
    • Become a doctor
    • Become a nurse
    • Become an airline pilot
    • Become a lawyer
    • Become a policeman
    • Be admitted to some colleges
    • Join the military
    • Receive various forms of aid from the states
    • Obtain government jobs
  • States are adopting laws like the one in Florida which prevents healthcare workers, like doctors, nurses and pharmacists, from being licensed, under any circumstances, if they had felony convictions for fraud or drugs within 15 years of their application.

Prosecutions of people who gave drugs to someone who died

More and more, prosecutors are looking for the person who sold or gave the drugs to someone who overdosed. It is more than charging them with possession. These people are being charged with homicide (murder) or manslaughter (causing the loss of life). Here are some examples taken from newspaper accounts:

  • 43-year-old Raymond Ciaccio was charged with first degree murder because he gave drugs to fiancée, Johanna Kern, and she died of a drug overdose.
  • Tracie Schuler was indicted for carelessly allowing her three year old daughter to take her methadone. The daughter died of an overdose and the autopsy showed that she had taken nine times the lethal dose for an adult.
  • Jesse Sowers, 18, of Bowling Green was arrested along with two juveniles, a boy and a girl, and charged with giving the drugs that caused the drug overdose death of 17-year-old Haley Bryan.
  • Chicago drug dealer Carlton Maynor was sentenced to 18 years in prison in February, about three months after a jury convicted him of providing a 27-year-old McHenry woman the heroin that killed her.
  • Chicago prosecutors have indicted three more people who were involved in providing the drugs to a person who died of an overdose. The prosecutors said that they would also charge others who may have split the drugs obtained from a drug deal even if they did not give the victim the drugs that killed him or her.
  • Forty-six-year-old Dennis Delucia accepted a plea deal in October in Waterbury Superior Court that calls for a prison sentence of at least five years. He was charged with second-degree manslaughter after he was accused of selling heroin to 21-year-old Liane Berthiaume, who overdosed in a bathroom at Mr. Happy’s Strip Club.
  • 21-year-old Troy Kelm pled guilty to giving Suboxone to 19-year-old Luke Murphy who died from an overdose and was sent to prison.
  • Two people were indicted for murder because Kayla Bilbrey, a high school student, died of an overdose from the drugs provided by the two people. Tennessee state law defines second degree murder as “the knowing killing of another” or as “a killing of another which results from the unlawful distribution of any Schedule I or Schedule II drug when such drug is the proximate cause of the death of the user.”
  • Allison J. Miller pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the drug overdose death of a 44-year-old Markey Township woman and was sentenced to prison.
  • Philip Burke was sentenced to prison for giving Gary Loar, a roommate, Xanax shortly before the man died of a drug overdose. Co-defendant Heather Reuterskiold was charged with giving Loar a methadone pill the night he died.
  • Stuart Barton pled guilty in August to involuntary manslaughter and delivery of a controlled substance and was sentenced to 10 years in prison because the person receiving the drugs died of an overdose.
  • 39 year old Stuart Barton has pled guilty to two counts of delivering methadone that killed a teenager and will spend ten years in prison. Nicholas Clay, the deceased, experimented with the drug at a pill party. Plymouth County, Iowa, Chief Deputy Craig Bartolozzi, says, “That’s where we hear kids are just taking pills from everywhere. They come together and they throw them in a big bowl and it’s just a ‘help yourself’ you really don’t know what you’re taking or how it’s gonna affect you.” In Iowa, delivery of a controlled substance is equivalent to a class “C” felony.
  • 22-year-old Austin D. Snider was charged with drug-induced homicide, a Class X felony, for allegedly selling 19-year-old Ryan Petefish 150 mg of methadone in exchange for a hunting bow. Petefish died.
  • 46-year-old Kathy Kaye Rider was sentenced to 20 years in prison for selling pills from legitimate prescriptions given to her by a medical doctor.
  • 23-year-old James Michael Arnold, 23, pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to prison in the death of Justin Kane Anderson, a 19-year-old. Arnold had given prescription drugs to the deceased.
  • 39-year-old Ginger Lee Boyle was charged with one count each of involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child because she knew that her 13 year old son took some of her prescription methadone but didn’t call 911 and the boy died.


People are aware of the harm caused by drugs. When we give talks at schools, most of the students don’t realize that by taking drugs from a medicine cabinet and going to a party, they are committing a serious crime that can affect the rest of their lives.

Prescription drugs are just as deadly and addictive as illegal “street” drugs. Possession of prescription drugs not prescribed to you makes them illegal drugs and that is a crime.

At Novus Medical Detox Center, we specialize in helping people find a cure to the problems caused by drugs and alcohol. People also come to us for a safe and more comfortable prescription drug detox and detox from all substances, such as:

Please contact us if we can help someone that you know.

NOTE: This information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (i) medical advice or counseling, (ii) the practice of medicine, health care diagnosis or treatment, or (iii) the creation of a physician patient or clinical relationship. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or that this information may be useful to you or others, please consult with your health care provider before applying any information from our articles to your personal situation or to the personal situation of others.

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