If you are caught illegally possessing oxycodone, you could face serious legal consequences including arrest, jail time, a criminal record and financial penalties.

Possession of oxycodone (in any of its pharmaceutical forms) without a prescription is a criminal offense which can result in arrest, criminal prosecution, mandatory drug treatment programs, incarceration, a life-long criminal record, and other legal and financial repercussions.

Oxycodone is an opiate-derived prescription pain killer (analgesic) with extremely addictive qualities. As a result of its risks, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration classifies oxycodone as a Schedule II narcotic with a high potential for misuse, psychological dependence, and physical dependence. Criminal penalties for possession of Schedule II controlled substances without a prescription vary by state and are largely dependent on the amount of the substance in your possession.

Article at a Glance:

  • Illegal possession of oxycodone is a serious criminal and personal health matter
  • The legal repercussions of oxycodone possession without a prescription vary widely from state to state
  • Possession of oxycodone without a prescription, especially after a prescription has expired, is a telltale sign of oxycodone dependence and addiction

Crimes Associated with Oxycodone

Oxycodone is available legally in a variety of forms and brands via prescription. However, because of its status as a controlled substance, possession, use and distribution of oxycodone without a prescription from a physician are serious crimes. Oxycodone is most commonly purchased on the black market by people with opioid use disorders or individuals without oxycodone prescriptions.

State level criminal penalties for oxycodone-related offenses can range from misdemeanor possession for small amounts to serious felony charges for larger amounts, distribution, and trafficking. These penalties are largely determined by the quantity of the substance possessed, the way the substance was acquired and the intent of possession. Sentences for misdemeanor offenses include probation, fines and short periods of incarceration. Felony charges can result in upwards of 20 years in prison depending on the severity of the offense.

Some offenses, such as trafficking, are also subject to federal penalties. Trafficking violations of the Federal Controlled Substances Act for Schedule II substances carries financial penalties of between $1 and $5 million and prison sentences of up to 20 years. Repeat offenses can lead to additional financial penalties of between $2 and $10 million and 30 years in federal prison.

Caught Without My Oxycodone Prescription

Because of oxycodone’s status as a controlled substance, the only form of possession that is legal at the state and federal level is via a prescription in an amount equal to or less than the prescribed quantity. If you are caught in possession of oxycodone without a prescription or possess more than your amount prescribed, you will likely face state misdemeanor or federal felony charges. These charges include severe legal and financial consequences.

Oxycodone Prescription in a Bottle

If you are prescribed oxycodone by a physician, you will receive a bottle with a medication label detailing your identification information (name and home address), the prescribing physician’s name, the pharmacy information (name, address and phone number), the prescription name, dosage instructions, the total amount of the prescription contained within the bottle, and the prescribing date and expiration.

So long as your prescription is contained within the bottle, the amount contained within the bottle matches or is less than the amount listed on the medical label and the prescription has not expired, you should be well within state and federal statutes and be at risk of legal repercussions.

Prescription Outside the Bottle

Unlawful possession of one’s own scheduled prescription drugs outside their original container is, in many states, a criminal offense committed often and unknowingly by many people.

For example, in the state of Maine, a person is not authorized to possess his or her own prescription drug unless the drug is “in the container in which it was delivered by the person selling or dispensing the drug.” The only instances in which it is legal to possess a prescription outside of its original packaging are when the prescription is “in use,” meaning it is removed from its packaging to be taken. Under these laws, scheduled prescription drugs cannot be stored in pockets, purses or any other storage device other than their original container. Getting caught in possession of a controlled substance outside of its bottle, even if that prescription was lawfully prescribed to you by a physician, is a criminal offense with serious legal consequences.

Laws governing the use and preservation of prescription drugs vary from state to state and there are exceptions to these rules. Because of this variation, it’s important to consult with your physician or a knowledgeable attorney regarding your state’s specific laws and regulations.

Caught and Someone Eles’s Oxycodone Prescription

Throughout the United States, possession of a controlled substance is illegal without a prescription. As such, possession of oxycodone in a prescription form that was not directly prescribed to you is a serious criminal offense with potentially severe legal consequences.

For example, in the state of Colorado, the unlawful possession of a schedule II controlled substance (like oxycodone) is a level 4 drug felony. Possession of oxycodone without a prescription (whether somebody else’s prescription or otherwise) includes penalties of between six and 12 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

While oxycodone possession without a prescription is universally illegal, it is still important to check with a legal professional and your physician regarding your state’s specific laws governing the use and possession of scheduled substances.

Getting Caught High on Oxycodone

Criminal offenses related to oxycodone use are not limited to possession, trafficking, and distribution. There are also a series of criminal offenses related to the illegal use of oxycodone without a prescription or medical purpose. For example, oxycodone use detected in random drug test programs for individuals on probation can result in serious criminal penalties over the original offense that placed the individual on probation.

Oxycodone is detectable in a variety of drug test forms, including urine and hair follicle tests. In one to three hours following oxycodone use, a urine test will come back positive and remain positive for the one to four days after use. Hair follicle tests can produce positive results for roughly 90 days following oxycodone use.

In the event of a failed drug test while on probation or other drug conditions, an individual may face excessive legal and financial penalties.

If yourself or a loved one struggle with an oxycodone use disorder, The Recovery Village is here to help. We encourage you to contact a representative today who would be happy to assist in introducing you to our treatment centers and can provide a personalized treatment plan that addresses addiction and any relevant co-occurring mental health disorders. The Recovery Village wants to help you and your loved ones take the first steps toward a healthier future today.

Bryan Hindin
By – Bryan Hindin
Bryan Hindin is a law clerk with years of experience working in personal injury, criminal defense, and employment law firms. Read more
Megan Hull
Editor – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more

U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. “Controlled Substance Schedules.” Accessed April 2, 2019.

Schneider Freiberger, P.C. “Oxycodone or Roxicodone Prescription Drug Charges.” Accessed April 2, 2019.

Yeh, Brian T. “Drug Offenses: Maximum Fines and Terms o[…]Act and Related Laws.” Congressional Research Service, January 20, 2015. Accessed April 2, 2019.

Rx Outreach. “Understanding Prescription Medication Labels.” Accessed April 2, 2019.

Edmund R. Folsom: Criminal Defense Attorney. “ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF YOUR OWN PRESCRIPTION DRUGS.” Accessed April 2, 2019.

Colorado Legal Defense Group. “Oxycontin.” Accessed April 2, 2019.

US Drug Test Centers. “Probation Drug Testing.” Accessed April 2, 2019.

U.S. Food & Drug Administration. “Drugs of Abuse Home Use Test.” Accessed April 2, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.