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When is a prescription drug illegal in North Carolina?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2021 | Drug crimes |

Prescription drugs may prove powerful and effective in the fight against pain. However, in some instances, these drugs may result in criminal charges.

North Carolina has adopted fairly strict laws when it comes to regulating prescription medications. A person may face significant criminal charges if found with prescription drugs that do not belong to him or her. Learn about some of the charges a person may face under the law.


When a person has pills, law enforcement must determine who they belong to. If the pills are not in a bottle, clearly marked with the possessor’s name, then the police assume that a doctor did not prescribe them to this person. A person who has prescription medication that is not theirs may find themselves charged with possession.


Fraud charges may mean many things under NC law, even when it comes to prescription drugs. A person may face fraud charges concerning possessing prescription medication under the following circumstances:

  • The prescription is a forgery
  • The person lied to a doctor about needing the drug
  • The pharmacist or prescriber was not licensed to dispense the drug
  • The person in possession lies about his or her identity


A person who becomes reliant on powerful medication may start doctor-shopping to obtain more. This is a practice by which an individual visits several practices in an attempt to obtain multiple prescriptions. Doctors do not necessarily know that a patient already has prescriptions for these drugs when they dispense them. A person caught doctor-shopping may face criminal charges.

The penalties for these crimes depend on the type of drug. Prescription drugs with a higher likelihood of abuse come with tougher charges. Authorities will investigate the circumstances surrounding the find and go forward from there.