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Abuse of Heroin And Prescription Opioids

Heroin usage has gained popularity recently because people have become addicted to opioids involving prescription drugs. According to statistics, nearly 50% of young people addicted to heroin started out using prescription opioids and then progressed to heroin because of the simple fact that heroin costs less and is easier to obtain. The rise in heroin use has consequently led to a rise in charges for possession of heroin. In 2016, there were 769 opioid-related overdose deaths in Arizona which is a rate of 11.4 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to the national rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons. From 2013 to 2016, the number of heroin-related deaths increased from 102 to 299 deaths and were the main driver of the rising opioid overdose death rate.

In order to prove guilt on this charge the DA has to prove the following in court:

  • The defendant unlawfully possessed heroin;
  • The defendant knew of its presence;
  • The defendant knew of the substances nature or character as a heroin;
  • When the defendant possessed the heroin, he or she intended to sell it;
  • The controlled substance was in fact heroin;
  • The heroin was in a usable amount.

Being in possession of heroin with intent to sell means that the person in possession of heroin intends to exchange the heroin for money, services or something else of value. A quantity that is sufficient to be used by someone is a usable amount, trace amounts or debris is not considered a usable amount. If you are accompanying someone when they are found to be in possession of heroin then you may also be charged because law enforcement has the right to charge anyone they believe can control the heroin.

In 2015, heroin surpassed methamphetamine and cocaine to become the most popular drug abused by Americans. Prescription opioids such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, Morphine and Codeine have been the cause of this epidemic because heroin becomes the default drug of choice when people can no longer obtain prescription opioids legally. However, not everyone opts to try an alternative street drug such as heroin to satiate their opioid addiction. People may try to forge prescriptions in order to obtain the desired opioids.

Arizona has the eighth-highest rate of drug abuse among all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Arizona is fourth highest in the percentage of adults that needed (but didn’t receive) treatment for illicit drug use in the past year.

In order to prove guilt in a forged prescription case, the prosecutor must prove the following elements in court:

  • The defendant obtained or had possession of a narcotic drug;
  • They were aware of the substance’s presence and its nature;
  • The narcotic drug was in a usable amount;
  • The substance was obtained using a forgedor altered prescription;
  • The defendant knew that the drug was acquired using the forgedor altered prescription.

There are a multitude of defenses that can be employed to defend someone accused of either possession or forgery of prescription, depending on the specific facts and circumstances of a case. If you or someone you love has been accused of a drug offense it is advisable that you retain the services of a skilled San Diego Federal Crime Lawyer in handling drug related cases to protect your rights and reputation.

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