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

Prescription drug abuse and addiction is a severe issue, and North Carolina State aggressively prosecutes those found to engage in prescription drug fraud, such as feloniously dispensing a controlled substance.
If you’ve been charged with any type of crime that relates to forgery, fraud, or feloniously dispensing prescription drugs, you shouldn’t hesitate to seek legal representation from a skilled criminal defense lawyer. The legal team at King Law realizes the various ways criminal charges like these can impact the lives of ordinary individuals.

What Is Considered a Controlled Substance in North Carolina?

The National Cancer Institute defines controlled substances as drugs or other types of substances under extreme government control because of their high potential of being abused or causing addiction. This control applies to how the substance is used, created, stored, handled, and distributed. Examples of controlled substances include:

  • Depressants
  • Stimulants
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Opioids
  • Hallucinogens

State and federal governments regulate these substances by restricting or forbidding their availability to the public. Any ordinary individual caught possessing any controlled substance could be charged and arrested by law enforcement. They could be subjected to fines or jail time.

Since they have a high potential for abuse and dependency, controlled substances come with specific requirements for storage, acquisition, inventory, security, disposal, recordkeeping, and importing and exporting.

Regulations and rules apply to every individual who distributes, manufactures, conducts research, or dispenses controlled substances. All parties that handle or use controlled substances must fully comply with federal and North Carolina State regulations and rules. 

Definition and Components of the Crime

“Dispensing controlled substances” refers to a practitioner or registrant prescribing a controlled substance to someone, whether known or unknown, that’s not inside the regular course of the practitioner’s or registrant’s professional practice, according to North Carolina Criminal Law Chapter 90-108.

Under the statute, in order for the crime to be considered a felony, the practitioner or registrant needs to have intentionally prescribed a controlled substance that’s not inside of their regular professional practice course. For the state to prove a feloniously dispensing a controlled substance charge, it must have the ability to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • The defendant does hold a license under G.S. 90-101 to distribute, dispense, manufacture, or conduct research with controlled substances, or they’re a licensed practitioner (doctor, pharmacist, dentist, etc.)
  • The defendant prescribed a prescription drug or another type of controlled substance to a person either they know or don’t know
  • The substance that the defendant prescribed was definitely a controlled substance
  • The defendant prescribed or dispensed the controlled substance to the known or unknown individual outside of the regular course of their professional occupation or practice within North Carolina and wasn’t for legitimate scientific or medical purposes
  • The defendant committed the violation intentionally

Feloniously dispensing controlled substances and misdemeanor dispensing of controlled substances are differentiated by what’s known as “specific intent” of committing a drug-related crime. As such, intent is an important component of the offense.

The State doesn’t have to prove that the defendant acted with the intention for the defendant to receive a dispensing a controlled substance misdemeanor conviction. The State does need to prove that the defendant acted purposely or with intent in order for the defendant to receive a feloniously dispensing a controlled substance violation, according to North Carolina Criminal Law Chapters: 90-108.

What Are Prescription Drugs and What Charges Can Be Placed for Illegal Prescriptions?

The term “prescription” is defined by North Carolina General Statute. § 90-87 (23) to be a written order or another order that is promptly reduced to writing for a combination, preparation, or combination thereof, or a controlled substance, and is issued by a North Carolina licensed physician to prescribe or administer drugs related to their professional practice.


Now, if the physician or a pharmacist hands out a prescription drug to a patient or individual without a written prescription, this violates the state law of North Carolina. Prescription drugs are a type of controlled substance, and if a person is found to possess them without a legally written prescription, a serious illegal possession of a prescription drug or controlled substance or “prescription fraud” charge is likely.

Under this NC statute, a person can be charged and convicted of prescription fraud or illegal possession of a prescription drug or a controlled substance if they’ve obtained a prescription by any of the following:

  • Obtaining possession of any type of controlled substance by dishonesty, forgery, or fraud
  • Acting as if they’re a licensed physician or practitioner when they are not
  • Obtaining a legal prescription of a controlled substance through withholding information or lying
  • “Doctor Shopping”, referring to seeing multiple doctors for the same symptoms with the intent to receive several prescriptions
  • Distributing or manufacturing controlled substances by using a false or stolen registration number
  • Obtaining controlled substances from a place of  work or employment with the intention of distributing or personally using

If you’ve been charged and convicted of any of these, you should immediately reach out to an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

What to Do if You’ve Been Charged and Convicted of Prescription Drug Fraud

It can be more complex than you might think to identify a prescription drug crime. Many prescription fraud offenders are either patients with substantial injuries that led to them becoming addicted to pain relievers that originally were prescribed to them legally, or are physicians or practitioners themselves that are distributing or selling prescription drugs for their personal gain.  Also, even though it’s a clear law violation to be in possession of controlled substances without a legal prescription, proving that a person didn’t require a legal prescription can be very challenging.

But, in either situation, in regard to prescription drug fraud crimes, the type of drug, the amount the individual had in their possession, and whether the individual obtained it by deceit or fraud will typically determine the charge and sentence. Illegal possession of a controlled substance or prescription drug fraud can come with steep fines and jail time. It can even cause a licensed practitioner to lose their employment. Finding a reputable criminal defense lawyer can help offer peace of mind, guidance, and a potentially favorable outcome.

Contact King Law Today to Speak With an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you’ve been charged with feloniously dispensing a controlled substance or another prescription drug crime, speak with a reliable criminal defense lawyer from King Law today. This is not something you want to wait on. You could be facing steep fines and jail time.

Our experienced attorneys here at King Law can help. Call us at (888) 748-5464 or (888) 748-KING for a consultation today. You can also fill out our contact form.