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Steroid Law – Steroids and the Law

DISCLAIMER: The following material is for general informative purposes consistent with the requirement of responsible education and should not be relied upon as legal advice. For legal advice confer with a licensed attorney of practice in your jurisdiction. This information should not be interpreted as lending to the promotion or endorsement of the use of anabolic steroids outside of legal medical practice, as the law prohibits illegal use. Individuals are highly advised and encouraged against the possession or distribution of any controlled substances such as anabolic steroids, as is a violation of the law.

Under United States federal law and the law of most states anabolic androgenic steroids are classified as controlled substances, illegal for use, possession or distribution without a licensed and viable medical purpose. Consistently and increasingly every year many individuals are falling prey to the violation of this law in-terms of both illegal distribution and possession leading to the arrest of many who are for all intense purposes otherwise law abiding citizens. Even so, the use of anabolic steroids remains very high in-spite of such legislation but athletes of all forms who supplement must necessarily be aware of the risks associated with such behavior. While it’s generally understood the consequences of distribution are great many fail to understand how serious simple possession can be if your use is made known by law enforcement; it is largely assumed by many that law enforcement has very little concern with personal possession; nothing could be further from the truth. Regardless of your goals the following information will guide you into making a proper decision as you will more aptly be able to judge and weigh the risk associated with anabolic steroids as it pertains to the legal consequences. Many will find the reward of anabolic steroids to far outweigh the risks but that is an individual decision. While we cannot claim the reward to be above the risks we can inform you on the risks at hand.

Common Arresting Causes:

Without question the most common reason for arrest involving anabolic steroids is distribution, the selling of anabolic steroids; however, the most common form of such arrest is not due to the capture of a full blown dealer as is commonly believed. By the nature in-which they exist anabolic steroids often change hands many times over, friends regularly trade and sell steroids to one another, often in an effort to simply help a friend out and such behavior can often be disastrous. Often a friend who has found himself in legal trouble will ask to purchase some anabolic steroids from you, more than likely a small amount; many times he’ll claim he’s simply running short and is waiting on his next supply to come in. As a good friend you’re eager to lend a helping hand; after all, he’s your friend and whatever the athletic pursuit you’re in it together; so you believe. You and your friend will meet and make an exchange but unknown to you is the fact an undercover police officer is very close by. In most cases the officer at hand will view the exchange, often the “friend” will be carrying some sort of transmitter, recording device of both and the entire conversation and exchange will be caught on tape and heard by present officers. If the exchange is in the open videotaping is quite common. Sure, you could ask your friend to lift his shirt to see if he was wired but you probably watch too much TV. As technology has advanced so has the means of such encounters. Many law enforcement agents now possess simple recording devices that look like cell-phones and pagers or small recorders that can slip into the pocket of the individual and remain undetectable by you. Depending on the law enforcement agency at hand normally one to three such transactions will take place and once they have what they want you’ll generally be arrested on the spot. True, you can argue all day long that you’re not a dealer and in the truest sense of the word you very well may not be but by the law that one simple ampule you sold to your friend now makes you a dealer in the same light as a full blown supplier.

Internet based distribution is further a very common means of arrest; with the advent of message boards over the years federal and local agents regularly monitor such related conversations quite regularly. Some argue that such monitoring is a violation of the right to privacy but keep in mind the right to privacy is technically nowhere to be found in the U.S. constitution, although many argue the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to provide such a right. Regardless, message board discussion is of a public nature, you have forfeited any privacy that may or may not be afforded to you by partaking in such behavior and when the discussion becomes of a highly illegal manner your right to privacy becomes of very little concern.

Increasingly over the years postal and customs inspections have led to the arrest of many individuals. This is particularly true of international based packages, especially when arriving from Eastern Europe, Asia or any other highly suspicious area. Many assume ordering domestically will save them from this problem but this is not so; while the odds are more in your favor suspicion can still be raised. Perhaps your package has a leak or a funny smell; perhaps you’re receiving multiple packages from Arizona while you live in New York; all of these things can raise suspicion. Once suspicion exists action will be taken. The inspectors will examine the records of delivery regarding the receiving individual and the package(s) in question will be searched. In many cases the potential receiver will receive a seizure notice or letter informing them of the situation and what action to take if they believe they have a legal right to the controlled substances in the package. If the individual fails to provide such information, generally within 20 days the package will be forfeited and the matter will be closed. However, increasingly law enforcement agencies are setting up controlled deliveries and if this occurs and the individual accepts the package a search warrant that is more than likely on hand will become active; your home will be searched and you will be arrested.

As you can see there’s really no safe way, there’s no absolutely assured manner of receiving anabolic steroids of a black market nature. Every day more and more people, most who have no prior criminal record, who work regular jobs, go to your local church, supermarket, who have kids in your schools and who are friends you barbeque with on the weekends are being arrested by the manners listed above.

Odds and Probability:

It is one of the most common questions of all; go to any message board and do a simple search and you’ll find the question has been asked countless times; “What are chances of being arrested for the possession of anabolic steroids?” It is true, those who truly distribute anabolic steroids are the primary target, in order to get to such a target many small fish often have to fry and this reality is greatly increasing. We’ve already discussed the most common means of arrest and while they are common often probability is increased by simple stupid behavior. A common traffic stop can end up being a death sentence for many individuals; if the officer has any reason to arouse suspicion, such as a syringe laying on the floor then a search may follow. However, it is true, most who are simple possessors of anabolic steroids will never be arrested and this is evident by the six-million adult Americans who supplement with anabolic steroids for performance enhancing purposes. Truth be told there is no way to predict if you’ll be caught or how great the probability is but we can say with absolute certainty your own behavior will greatly increase or decrease such probability. Those who trade steroids among friends, who talk openly of their own use on message boards, who order from internet based sources or who leave their steroids out in the open greatly and dramatically increase their odds of being arrested and it’s not a slight increase. If you are one of the unlucky ones understand the consequences can and will be truly great. Such action can greatly affect future employment, as well as the embarrassment of being hauled before a judge in open court in the same manner as a true hardened criminal. If you do find you are arrested for the possession or distribution of anabolic steroids the best course of action and the only advisable course of action is to remain silent; shut your mouth! Regardless of how desperate you are to defend your actions keep your mouth shut, as nothing you say will help you in any way. The arresting officers are simply there to arrest and interrogate in order to lead to hopefully more arrest; they’re not going to listen to your story and say they made a mistake and let you go. Once arrested simply request the presence of an attorney and close your mouth. By law once you have invoked this right law enforcement officers are prohibited from asking you any more questions; however, we have seen cases where this was ignored. If you invoke your right to counsel and questioning is continued and they threaten you with a stiffer outcome by choosing to remain silent, understand it is only a threat with no truth behind it and the officer is violating your rights. If they get in your face and scream simply keep your mouth shut and wait to speak with your attorney; the outcome will be far more in your favor if you follow this advice and cannot be stressed enough.

Post Arrest:

Once an individual is arrested he will be fingerprinted and put directly into the law enforcement data base. Once this point is reached an arraignment is set by-which your attorney will receive a detailed copy of all charges and bail will be determined. The seriousness of the charges, the individuals prior criminal record and level of potential flight risk will determine if bail is permitted and the amount to be set if it is. If bail is more than you can afford or if it is denied you will remain in custody until your case is completed and resolved. As you can see the need for a quality defense attorney is of great importance; in-fact, nothing else you may possess or do will come close to the importance of a good defense attorney.

Federal Law:

It was during the 1980’s that truly saw the war on steroids really take hold as constant reporting of steroids in sports made the nightly news on a nightly basis. By such action the U.S. Congress took notice and took it upon itself to remedy the “problem.” By such action the original Steroid Control Act of 1990 was passed officially placing anabolic androgenic steroids on the controlled substance list as Schedule III to be upheld in every federal court across the nation. By the 1990 legislation anabolic steroids were now in the same class as amphetamines, methamphetamines, opium and morphine with simple position in violation of the law being a felony offense punishable by a maximum one year in prison and a fine of at minimum $1,000. However, if the individual possesses an existing criminal record jail time can increase to two years with the minimum fine now being set at $2,500. For those who possess more than one prior conviction total imprisonment can extend to three years with a minimum fine of $5,000. It is important to remember, we’re not talking about distribution here, we’re talking about simple possession and simple possession can be the smallest amount in the world. If an individual is charged and convicted on the basis or distribution or possession with the intent to distribute a first time offense can result in as much as five years in prison and a fine as great $250,000. For an individual who has a prior drug related conviction the offense will result in a maximum ten years of imprisonment with a much higher fine to be determined by the court. It is also important to keep in mind once imprisonment time is complete the individual will further be placed on supervised release or parole and will be thoroughly watched and kept at the mercy of the law for as much as two to four years.

State Law:

Once the original Steroid Control Act was passes many states followed suit by placing anabolic androgenic steroids on their own controlled substance lists. While twenty-two states have scheduled anabolic steroids the laws regarding the classification vary and penalties for violation can vary from state to state. Of the 50 states the twenty-two who have scheduled anabolic steroids include:

  • Arizona, California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas

Each of these states carry with them strict and far reaching laws revolving around anabolic steroids and it is in state court where most violators of the law will find themselves. Depending on the state at hand the consequences of violation in-terms of total classification can vary; as distribution will generally always be a felony offense the class of felony can vary. In some states simple possession without the intent to sell is merely a misdemeanor for a first time offender but increasingly simple possession is easily turned into intent to distribute. Regardless of the end conviction most will be placed on some level of probation and run the risk of being deemed a drug offender for the remainder of their life.

It is important to note, your cooperation during the investigation as well as your prior record and most notably your defense council will greatly affect the total outcome. Some first time offenders, even those of a distributing nature have escaped serious charges and left the court with their clean record still intact. Such individuals handled themselves with respect, were calm and collected when confronted by the arresting officers and shown no reason for further concern by the court. Most importantly their attorneys understood the law and how best to present their client to the court. In some such cases the defendant is offered what is known as judicial diversion, generally a short period of probation is given, often unsupervised and once the time is completed the individual is in the clear, clean and free. Is this very common, perhaps not and it depends on the state at hand but most importantly the attorney.

The Court – State or Federal:

Federal law prohibits possession or distribution of anabolic steroids as do most states and a violator of the law can be prosecuted in either; in some cases both, however this is very rare. Depending on the severity of the offense and the agency in-which the arrest was made will often determine which court ultimately holds the case. For example, those under investigation by the DEA will find they end up in federal court while arrest made by your local police department will generally end up in state court. In some cases a federal agency will make an arrest and send it to the state court; this will often depend on the feds desire to fully prosecute the case; if the case is not deemed a particular high interest nature it can be sent down to the state level.

Confidential Informants:

Once arrested, regardless of the nature, possession or distribution the arresting agency will more than likely pressure you to work for the agency in order to garner more information. The idea is simple; you give them the information they desire and they will aid in decreasing your total penalty. The idea is to have you lead them to more arrest; in many cases, perhaps the majority this is exactly how you were arrested; someone else was in trouble and to get a lesser sentence worked with the police and busted you. Law enforcement agencies will follow this process for as long as they can, hopefully climbing the ladder that will lead them to the original source; as is the idea. Understand this can be a very dangerous process for the arrested individual, after all, you’re snitching and there is no guarantee your actions will help you in any way; you may indeed give the arresting agency a good lead or even an arrest but they are by no means required by law to speak on your behalf in court. Before taking such action consult with your attorney and discuss the best course to take.


Entrapment is largely misunderstood by many individuals and often in cases of anabolic steroids many feel such a violation exist when in-fact it does not. Simply put, entrapment is refers to an individual committing a crime based on being actively pressured by law enforcement they otherwise would not commit. The entrapment laws vary with each state but in a general sense committing a crime due to law enforcement causing you to will be entrapment, assuming you never would have committed the crime otherwise. As many arrested individuals regarding anabolic steroids are caught by undercover officers often they assume this is entrapment; the argument is simple; they sold anabolic steroids to an undercover agent or accepted a package from an undercover agent and in both cases they would have avoided the situation if they had known the individual was an agent. Further, they may have even asked the individual if he was an agent or a cop and received a response of “No, I’m not a cop” but this simply does not matter and does not constitute entrapment. Law enforcement agents are by law permitted and allowed to lie, they are not bound by telling the truth in any way; they can lawfully say anything they want in an undercover situation.

The Odds of Jail or Prison Time:

Anyone who is arrested on anabolic steroid charges is and will always be concerned with potential jail or prison time and for good reason; it is the most serious consequence that can occur. Unfortunately there is no cut and dry answer to this question; as we have already seen the laws of each state vary and many other factors come into play, such as the persons role in the illegal action, the amount of anabolic steroids on hand, the individuals prior criminal record and of great importance the strength and knowledge of his defense attorney. The strength of the case will also play a vital role; for this reason, as discussed it is very important to keep your mouth shut. The more you talk the more apt you are to strengthen the case against you; allow your attorney and your attorney alone to do all the speaking for you.

In most cases first time offenders who are charged with possession will not see any jail time and will be granted mercy on some level; while not as common some first time offenders of possession with the intent to sell can meet the same end; although jail time for this individual is far more likely. While each case will present its own facts and scenarios to give you the best possible outcome the following is of greatest concern:

  • Remaining silent once confronted and arrested
  • Remaining silent during any interrogation
  • Evoking your right to council
  • Obtaining adequate and appropriate council
  • Allowing your council to do the talking for you
  • Keeping your mouth shut…this cannot be stressed enough

Steroid Law and its Effectiveness:

Since the 1990’s the war on steroids has been raging on full steam ahead; with the Steroid Control Act of 1990 and the reinforcement of that legislation with the Steroid Control Act of 2004 the laws regarding anabolic steroids and the penalties for violation have only strengthened. However, the question remains; how effective has it been? It is estimated that over six-million American adults supplement with anabolic steroids for the purpose of performance enhancing; that is no small number by any stretch. By this fact one can easily conclude the vast majority have deemed the reward to outweigh any possible risk, even that of a legal nature. There is no question, the results of being accused, arrested and convicted can be devastating and can carry with it lifelong consequences yet the truth remains; many are willing to risk it.

It is an unfortunate reality, we live in a society where anabolic androgenic steroids have been demonized; the lack of education revolving around the substances is appalling and few topics would allow such irresponsible behavior. By the law those who are partakers of anabolic androgenic steroids are viewed no differently than crack addicts and those who sell them are often viewed as dangerous thugs; nothing could be further from the truth. Most all who supplement with anabolic steroids are law abiding citizens and most remain that way; they are your friends and neighbors, your coworkers, teachers, doctors, lawyers and everything in-between. Even in the realm of law enforcement many law enforcement officers who fully understand the legal risk supplement with anabolic steroids and even though more evidence exists supporting the positive nature of use than the negative the law remains complacently blind.

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