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What Happens If You’re Caught With Xanax?

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

June 12, 2019

Getting caught with Xanax when you don’t have a prescription for the drug can result in serious legal implications. These include fines and potential imprisonment. If you or someone you love is abusing Xanax illegally, seeking treatment to overcome addiction can help prevent the possibility of getting caught with this drug.

Having Xanax in your possession without a prescription is illegal. Additionally, having more Xanax than the prescribed amount is also a crime. Being caught with Xanax can have a number of legal consequences, including fines, arrest, and prosecution.

Xanax is classified as a Schedule IV drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Compared to other controlled substances, Xanax has a relatively low potential for abuse and dependence. Despite this, Xanax is one of the most widely abused substances in the United States.

This drug is only available with a prescription. However, Xanax is commonly sold illegally on the street, making it easy for those without a prescription to obtain it. Illegally buying, selling, or possessing Xanax can put individuals at risk for a number of legal implications.

Criminal Offenses Associated With Illegal Xanax Possession

The specific legal consequences that may come as a result of illegal Xanax possession vary widely by state. The amount of Xanax in a person’s possession will also affect the penalties associated with the crime of possession.

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Because Xanax is a controlled substance, having possession of this drug without a prescription is considered a state-level crime. The category of the crime can range from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on how much Xanax is in a person’s possession. How the person obtained the drug and the intent he or she has for the drug will also influence the severity of the charge.

Possessing small amounts of Xanax illegally will likely result in a misdemeanor charge. Consequences for a misdemeanor may include court fines, probation, and potentially jail time.

When a person is caught with larger quantities of Xanax, he or she will likely be charged with a felony. Felony charges can result in more severe consequences, including up to 10 years in prison.

If a person is believed to be trafficking Xanax, he or she will be charged with a federal offense that corresponds with the Federal Controlled Substances Act. Under this act, first-time offenders may be subjected to pay up to a million dollars in fines and spend up to five years in prison. Repeat offenders may have to pay up to two million dollars as well as a 10-year prison sentence.

What If I’m Caught With Xanax That Is Legally Prescribed?

Being in possession of Xanax that has been prescribed to you by a doctor is completely legal. When Xanax is prescribed, the patient will receive a bottle of the medication that has all the relevant information listed on it. This includes the person’s name, address, and phone number as well as the prescribing doctor’s information.

As long as the Xanax is in the correct bottle, the amount of Xanax in the bottle does not exceed the prescribed amount, and the medication has not expired, possession of prescribed Xanax is legal.

If a person is caught with Xanax that has been legally prescribed but that is not in the original bottle, he or she may be subject to criminal charges. Several states consider it illegal to carry prescription drugs outside of the bottle. This means that having Xanax in a purse, pocket, or other areas may be considered illegal.

What Happens If I Get Caught While High On Xanax?

Just like illegally possessing or selling Xanax, taking Xanax without a prescription is also against the law. Illegal Xanax use is most commonly detected when a person is caught driving under the influence or when a drug test is administered.

There are several different drug tests used to detect Xanax in a person’s system. These include urine, blood, saliva, and hair tests. Xanax can typically be detected in someone’s body for up to four days after the last use.

Each state has different laws related to illegally taking drugs like Xanax. If a person tests positive for Xanax while on probation, he or she will likely receive a more severe legal penalty.

Treatment For Xanax Abuse And Addiction

Xanax addiction can be hard to overcome on one’s own. Luckily, there are several types of treatment available to treat substance use disorders.

Many people find success by participating in a formal treatment program. Formal treatment may include attending a detox program, inpatient treatment, and aftercare. How long a person remains in treatment will depend on his or her condition and needs.

To learn more about the consequences of being caught with Xanax, contact a treatment specialist today. - What to Expect if You’re Arrested for Drug Possession


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