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Decoding Prescription Drug Charges: Louisiana Laws and Consequences

If you need help decoding prescription drug charges in Louisiana, you’ve come to the right place. Navigating drug laws can be confusing since various circumstances impact charges and sentencing. Read on for some clarity on Louisiana drug laws and consequences. 

Louisiana Drug Scheduling

Louisiana follows federal guidelines on drug scheduling. The federal government organizes all controlled substances into one of five schedules. The schedules range from I to V, with I being the most serious.

  • Schedule I: substances with no medical benefits and the highest potential for abuse and addiction (marijuana, heroin, LSD, ecstasy)
  • Schedule II: substances with medical benefits but high potential for abuse and addiction (Vicodin, cocaine, fentanyl, and oxycodone)
  • Schedule II: substances with medical benefits and moderate to low potential for abuse and addiction (Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, anabolic steroids, and testosterone)
  • Schedule IV: substances with medical benefits and low potential for abuse and addiction (Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Ambien, Soma)
  • Schedule V: substances with medical benefits and lower potential for abuse and addiction than Schedule IV drugs (low-codeine cough syrups such as Robitussin and Lyrica)
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Legend Drugs

Understanding Drug Schedules

Understanding drug schedules will help differentiate between the myriad charges and consequences of being caught illegally possessing these drugs. 

Possessing a Schedule I drug without a valid prescription will result in various penalties depending on the drug, amount discovered, and intent to distribute. 

Potential Crimes

You can face several charges if law enforcement finds controlled substances during a stop or search. The amount of drugs, intent, and criminal history can affect the charges you could be facing. 

Louisiana law follows federal guidelines for sentencing and charges of drug crimes. The courts handle simple possession, manufacturing, and distribution or intent to distribute differently. 

Simple Possession

Simple possession is one of the most common prescription drug charges in Louisiana. Typically, local prosecutors will handle simple possession charges. A criminal defense attorney should handle simple possession charges to ensure a fair trial and minimum sentences.

Distribution & Drug Trafficking

Additionally, persons discovered with controlled substances can also face distribution or trafficking charges if the amount of the substance found is above a certain threshold. 

Federal drug charges include but are not limited to the type and amount of the controlled substance, whether minors were involved, whether force or harm was threatened or inflicted during the commission of the crime, and an individual’s criminal history.

Charges For Prescription Drug Possession In Louisiana

Charges for possessing prescription drugs without a valid prescription will vary depending on the amount of the drugs in possession at the time of discovery, the schedule of the drugs, and whether or not there is an intent to distribute or sell the drugs. 

Simple possession of Schedule I drugs ranges from 4-10 years, 5-20 years, or 0-10 years. Charges will vary depending on the type of drug possessed and the quantity. Generally, the courts treat marijuana possession charges differently than the other listed drugs. 

Other penalties may include: 

  • 2 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 for simple possession of Schedule II drugs
  • Up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 for simple possession of Schedule III, IV, or V drugs

Sentences for drug distribution or trafficking charges will vary greatly depending on the above-listed factors. For Schedule I drugs, a defendant may face a penalty between 5 to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.


If law enforcement charges you with a drug crime in Louisiana, remain calm. Do your best to only speak about the crime once an attorney is present. Anything you say at this time can be used against you in court. Cooperate with requests from law enforcement. 

Your next step is to contact a criminal defense attorney. An experienced defense attorney can help you fight your charges. Evidence must be available to support any defense presented in court. A criminal defense attorney will work to help build your defense and ensure that any erroneous charges are dropped. 

Stay On Top Of Things

It is vital to keep your prescriptions in one place to prevent facing a potential drug charge. If law enforcement finds your drugs, a prescription will support your defense. While you are not required to show law enforcement a prescription at the time of discovery, do not lie about having a prescription for anything found. 

You will need evidence if you argue that the drugs are not yours or that there was no intent to distribute or sell the controlled substance. Again, a criminal defense attorney can make these arguments and present evidence to the court and law enforcement. 

Decoding Prescription Drug Charges, Louisiana Laws and Consequences

Prescription drug charges can be a daunting obstacle to overcome on your own. Never offer any information to law enforcement without a lawyer present. Because potential charges can vary greatly depending on many factors, working with a criminal defense attorney gives you the best chance of fighting any charges. 

It can be challenging to navigate and decode prescription drug charges in Louisiana. Contact a successful criminal defense attorney to help guide you through the state prescription drug laws and consequences. 


Louisiana DWI & Criminal Lawyers

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Louisiana criminal lawyers and DWI attorneys at the Barkemeyer Law Firm providing legal defense services for clients in Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston, Tangipahoa, Port Allen, Alexandria, New Orleans, Lafayette, Metairie, Kenner, Gretna, Hahnville, Chalmette, Slidell, St. Tammany, St. Charles, St. John, St. Bernard, Mandeville, Covington, Shreveport, Bossier, Jefferson, and all of Louisiana.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not formal legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.

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