What Is Third-Degree Drug Possession in Kentucky?

October 10th, 2018 by Attorney Dan Carman

What Is Third-Degree Drug Possession in Kentucky?

A third-degree drug possession charge in Kentucky is a less serious drug-related crime, but it still needs to be taken seriously. A conviction could potentially result in jail time, a fine and a lost job. Having a criminal record could make it more difficult for you to be hired, promoted or rent a home.

Under Kentucky law, a person is guilty of possession of a controlled substance in the third degree if he or  she knowingly and unlawfully possesses a controlled substance classified in Schedules IV or V. Those schedules are classifications of drugs by the federal Controlled Substances Act. The higher the number of the schedule, the less addicting and dangerous the drugs generally are. The drugs in these schedules are prescription medications.

Possession of a controlled substance in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor in Kentucky. If convicted, possible punishment can be ninety days to twelve months in jail and a fine of up to $500.

According to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency,

  • Schedule IV drugs, substances or chemicals are those with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Examples are Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien and Tramadol. They are used as sleeping pills, pain relievers, tranquilizers, anti-depressants and to treat anxiety.
  • Schedule V drugs, substances or chemicals are drugs whose potential for abuse are lower than Schedule IV and are preparations with limited quantities of certain narcotics. They are generally used to treat diarrhea or suppress coughing and are pain relievers that don’t cause drowsiness. Some examples are cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (such as Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica and Parepectolin.

“Substance abuse, particularly the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs, is one of the most critical public health and safety issues facing Kentucky,” states the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy.

More than 30% of overdoses involving opioids also involve the use benzodiazepines, a type of prescription sedative, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Benzodiazepines (or “benzos”) calm or sedate the user by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. Common benzodiazepines include two Class IV drugs, Valium and Xanax.

From 1996 to 2013, the number of adults who filled prescriptions for a benzodiazepine went up by 67%, from 8.1 million to 13.5 million. Using opioids and benzodiazepines at the same time can be dangerous because both types of drugs are sedatives that suppress breathing (the direct cause of overdose fatalities) in addition to impairing brain functions. Many people are prescribed both types of drugs at the same time.

If you have been charged with third degree drug possession in Kentucky, you need a criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights and your future. Contact us today so you can discuss your situation with one of the attorneys at the Lexington, Kentucky-based Carman Law Firm. As criminal defense attorneys with years of experience, we offer thorough, experienced representation.