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North Carolina Criminal Law Chapter 90-108: Feloniously Dispensing a Controlled Substance

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

 Prescription fraud and controlled substance charges Under North Carolina Criminal Law Chapter 90-108, dispensing a controlled substance is defined as a registrant or practitioner prescribing a controlled substance to another individual (known or unknown) outside the normal course of the registrant’s or practitioner’s professional practice.

For the crime to be a felony under the statute, the registrant or practitioner must have intentionally prescribed the controlled substance outside of their normal course of professional practice.

To prove a charge of dispensing a controlled substance, a State must be able to establish the following prima facie elements Beyond a Reasonable Doubt:

  1. Defendant is licensed under G.S. 90-101 to manufacture, distribute, dispense, or conduct research with a controlled substance or is a licensed practitioner (physician, dentist, pharmacist, etc.)
  2. Defendant prescribed a controlled substance to an individual (known or unknown)
  3. The substance defendant prescribed was a controlled substance
  4. Defendant’s prescribing to or for a known or unknown person was outside the normal course professional practice of Defendant’s practice/occupation within North Carolina and was not for a legitimate medical or scientific purpose
  5. Defendant’s violation was committed intentionally

Felony dispensing a controlled substance and misdemeanor dispensing of a controlled substance are differentiated by “specific intent” to commit a drug crime. As such, intent is an essential element of the offense.

The State need not prove the defendant acted intentionally for the defendant to be convicted of misdemeanor dispensing a controlled substance.

The State must prove the Defendant acted intentionally for the Defendant to be convicted of violating North Carolina Criminal Law Chapters 90-108: FELONIOUSLY DISPENSING A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE

2. Examples
  1. Defendant is a licensed pharmacist. Defendant has a friend who is an opiate addict. Defendant knows his friend has an addiction to opiates.

    Defendant writes a friend a prescription in order to prevent his friend from having severe opiate withdrawals. Defendant can be charged with felony prescription of a controlled substance.

  2. Defendant is a general surgeon. Defendant has been having back pain from standing up night after night performing surgeries. Rather than go to an independent medical professional for a check-up, Defendant writes himself a prescription for hydrocodone and Demerol.

    Defendant Surgeon can be charged with felony prescription of a controlled substance.

3. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Intentionally and/or knowingly keeping, maintaining a building for the use of selling a controlled substance – N.C.G.S. 90-108(a)(7)
  2. Sale or Delivery of a Controlled Substance – N.C.G.S. 90-95(a)(1)
  3. Forged Prescription – N.C.G.S. 90-108(10)
  4. Drug Trafficking – 90-95(h)
  5. Trafficking in Marijuana – 90-95
  6. Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
4. Defenses to Dispensing a Controlled Substance

The Defendant may assert as a valid defense authorization under the Controlled Substances to Act to prescribe a particular controlled substance to another individual.

5. Penalties

Dispensing a controlled substance without intent is a Class 1 Misdemeanor punishable by a maximum period of incarceration of 120 days.

Feloniously dispensing a controlled substance is a Class I felony punishable by a maximum period of incarceration of 24 months in the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections

The Class 1 misdemeanor may punished as a Class I felony if the defendant has any prior convictions, felony or misdemeanor, under the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act or a similar law of another state or the United States.

Prior convictions must be alleged in the criminal pleading or Indictment to authorize the greater punishment.

6. Criminal Defense for Dispensing of a Controlled Substance Cases

 Dispensing If you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor prescription of a controlled substance offense, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

Prescription fraud and controlled substance charges can have catastrophic consequences for your job and licensure as a medical professional.

You need to act quickly to protect your rights and mitigate any negative impact that may occur to your professional or personal life. If you’ve been contacted by the State Bureau of Investigations (SBI), politely decline to give a statement.

Assert your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Request an attorney before saying anything.

Bill Powers is Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist by the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification / National Board of Trial Advocacy. Megan S. Powell and Chris J. Beddow are part of the Powers Law Firm PA, a North Carolina criminal law defense team.

It’s imperative to begin your defense without delay. Please call 877-462-3841 immediately to schedule your free consultation. Everything discussed as part of the attorney-client relationship is strictly confidential.

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