Is it legal to possess opiates if you are an addict?
You might have heard that addiction is a defense to heroin or prescription painkiller possession — that is not the case. Pennsylvania is, in many ways, ground zero for the opiate epidemic that is sweeping the nation. Here and in neighboring states, you find the range and depth of the impact to be greater than nearly anywhere else in the country.
The severity of the situation, combined with the lingering effects of the war on drugs, combine to make a relatively strenuous enforcement atmosphere. As such, it would probably be in your best interest to understand the various defenses you might have against criminal drug charges.
Is addiction a defense to possession?
As you may read on FindLaw, addiction is not a defense to charges of possession. However, there are various other ways in which you could potentially defend yourself against a drug crime conviction — depending on the facts of your case, of course. These defenses might include:
- That you may legally possess the drugs in question
- That the discovery of your alleged possession was the result of entrapment or an illegal search
- That you did not know or intend to have the substances
- That the drugs were not yours
Please note that these are defenses in fact, not in statement. In other words, simply claiming that your alleged possession is not a crime could potentially do more harm than good for your case.
What are the options for addicts?
Many counties in Pennsylvania have seen extensive losses due to the opioid epidemic. This is one of the greatest threats to public health in recent memory, and you can expect the court to treat it as such.
In general, this means that there could be treatment options for you if you are an addict. This is especially true if you are facing your first charge or if you have a charge for a small quantity of opioids.
The existence of a potential second chance does not necessarily mean police and prosecutors will give you that option first. Additionally, every jurisdiction tends to have different options available in terms of rehabilitation. Please understand your position before you make any deals or statements — try not to base your decision solely on general information such as this article.