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Can I be charged with a California codeine crime if I had a prescription for codeine?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Oct 24, 2016 | 0 Comments

Codeine, like other prescription drugs, has a tricky relationship with California criminal drug laws.

On the one hand, codeine is a commonly-prescribed painkiller. On the other hand, codeine is a "Schedule II" controlled substance whose use and possession are regulated under:

For the most part, you are not guilty of violating these California codeine laws if you were used or possessed codeine in accordance with a valid prescription. BUT there are some important caveats to this.

First, you really must possess or use the codeine strictly as provided in your valid prescription. So you may still be subject to codeine charges if you:

  • Possess or use codeine that has been prescribed to someone else, 
  • Are under the influence of or possess more codeine than has been prescribed to you, or
  • Possess or use codeine under a prescription that you obtained through prescription fraud or doctor shopping.

Second, you can be convicted of driving under the influence of codeine even if you used codeine only in accordance with a valid prescription.

Finally, if you intend to sell codeine obtained through a prescription, you can be charged with:

  • HS 11351 California's "possession for sale of a controlled substance" law, or
  • HS 11352 California's "transportation or sale of a controlled substance" law,

 These rules apply not only to codeine, but also to other prescription drugs that are commonly abused in California--such as hydrocodone/Vicodin.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.

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