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In many drug cases, you will hear the phrase "controlled substance." It may sound like a meaningless phrase when devoid of context; but within the world of drug charges, this is a very important term. Quite simply, a controlled substance is an illegal drug that has a detrimental impact on a person's health and well-being. Therefore, controlled substances are banned by state and federal governments.

Controlled substances are broken down into "schedules," and these schedules ascend in severity from schedule five (V) to schedule one (I). 

Schedule V substances are things like cough syrup. That contain trace amounts of illicit narcotics such as codeine. Schedule III and IV substances are somewhat similar, with Schedule IV being consider less severe. Examples of Schedule IV substances are Xanax and Valium, while Schedule III substances are things such as Vicodin, Codeine and anabolic steroids.

Schedule II drugs are strong substances that carry a high risk of addiction and abuse. OxyContin, Percocet and morphine are examples of Schedule II substances.

Finally, there are the most severe controlled substances, which are classified as Schedule I substances. These are the drugs you hear about all the time: heroin, ecstasy, marijuana, and LSD are all considered Schedule I.

The scheduling system can become complicated for those who have been charged with a crime. What law applies to them, the state laws or the federal laws? Will additional charges be applied to the case? What if the individual accused of committing a crime has a prescription for the controlled substance?

To get to the bottom of these questions -- and to protect your rights and interests -- you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "What Is a Controlled Substance?," Accessed Sept. 8, 2015

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