Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax-Related Charges in Maryland
Bowie and Crofton criminal defense lawyers for prescription drug charges
Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax are all part of the class of benzodiazepine drugs. Benzos, as they are also called, are Schedule IV controlled dangerous substances. Doctors can prescribe these drugs for various disorders. Non-physicians cannot manufacture, sell, or distribute these drugs. It is generally illegal to possess these drugs without a physician’s prescription. If you are charged with possession, manufacturing, distribution, or prescription fraud, Carey Law Office can represent you. Please contact us in Bowie or Crofton to speak with a drug charge defense attorney.
About benzodiazepine medications and opioid abuse
Klonopin (clonazepam) is a prescription medicine for panic disorders, but is also prescribed in the treatment of seizure disorders. Xanax (alprazolam) and Valium (diazepam) are prescribed to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks. Both drugs are approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) when properly prescribed. Valium can also be prescribed to treat convulsive disorders, and Xanax is sometimes prescribed to treat the nausea associated with chemotherapy.
Many people begin using Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax legally, and under the supervision of their doctors. As Schedule IV drugs, all three supposedly:
- Have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs,
- Have a currently accepted medical use, and
- Are less likely to result in physical or psychological dependence, compared to drugs categorized as Schedule III.
It is that last description – compared to drugs categorized as Schedule III – that is important here. Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin may be less addictive than, say, ketamine, but that does not mean people cannot become addictive to, or dependent upon, them. As with any drug, if your body builds an immunity, you may require a stronger dose in order to feel the effects.
When this fails to work, many people turn to opioids – prescription or otherwise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “More than 30 percent of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepines.” Many patients are prescribed both medications simultaneously, despite evidence of the dangers, including “A cohort study in North Carolina [which] found that the overdose death rate among patients receiving both types of medications was 10 times higher than among those only receiving opioids.”
Criminal offenses and penalties for Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax
Criminal offenses for these Schedule IV drugs include the “regular” drug crime charges:
However, because these are all prescription medications, you may also face charges of prescription fraud if you are found to have too many pills, or pills that have not been prescribed to you.
If you are convicted of manufacturing, selling, or possessing Valium, Klonopin, or Xanax, you could face up to $15,000 in fines, and/or up to 5 years in prison.
Additional penalties for felony drug convictions
Felony convictions for Schedule IV drug crimes can cost you more than just fines and time: it can cost you a shot at a better future, after you have served your time, or sought treatment. A felony conviction on your record means you may be denied access to housing, education, and financial assistance, either through loans or by the federal government.
More pressing, however, may be the loss of your professional licenses. If you work in the healthcare or security industries, for example, and have been convicted of a drug crime involving Xanax, Valium, or Klonopin (or any prescription drug), you will lose your medical license, and you will lose your right to carry a firearm. This can preclude you from finding work in your chosen field, even those you have served your sentence.
Defenses to drug charges involving Klonopin, Valium, or Xanax
The consequences for Schedule IV drug crimes may depend, in part, on whether the defendant had an addiction to the drug. Someone with an addiction will need medical help to reduce or end their dependency on the drug and the underlying problems that caused the drug to be originally prescribed. Maryland has 36 Drug Courts, which “serve as an alternative to traditional pathways for addressing drug crimes in the state, namely jail time.” You may be able to avoid prison by seeking treatment in a specialized program if you are a first-time offender.
We may also be able to work out a deal for pretrial or judiciary diversion. If you are a first-time offender, the prosecutor or judge may offer you a deal which will keep your record clean. In this case, you may be assigned to community service, or a treatment program. If you follow the rules of the program, you may avoid a criminal record altogether.
If neither of these options are available to you, we may employ any number of defense strategies, including but not limited to:
- Showing that you had proper medical authorization for possessing the prescription drug;
- Suppressing any evidence where the police did not have proper Constitutional authority to seize the drug, to take your statement involuntarily or without legal counsel, or for other reasons; or
- Working to show that there is some reasonable doubt as to a key part of the government’s case.
If your charges cannot be dropped entirely, your drug defense lawyer will work aggressively to persuade prosecutors and judges that the offense should be treated as a medical problem, and not a criminal offense.
At Carey Law Office, we understand how everyday people can be overwhelmed by the criminal process – especially if they are taking medications for anxiety or other medical problems. Our experienced lawyers answer your questions and guide you through every stage of the criminal trial process. We work with your doctors, when appropriate, to show that the use of Klonopin, Valium, or Xanax was medically justified. We fight to get charges dismissed and to negotiate fair plea agreements.
Contact an Experienced Prescription Drug Defense Lawyer Today
All drug charges are serious. Prescription drug charges, however, require a different sort of defense. Carey Law Office understand this, and will fight to protect your future. For help now, call 301-464-2500 or fill out the contact form to discuss your case with a drug defense lawyer at our Bowie or Crofton office.