When you think of being charged for possession of drugs, one normally thinks of cocaine, heroin, etc. However, did you know you can also be charged for having medication that has been prescribed to someone else? A couple of exceptions are below:
· Medical personnel traveling to a patient’s home with the prescribed drugs
· Drug representatives carrying them to market to stores
· Law enforcement who may have apprehended the drugs from an offender
Besides special circumstances like these, every arrest involving a controlled substance without a prescription may lead to you facing prison time. Florida is known to crack down on anyone from serial drug dealers to low-level offender college students who take unprescribed pills.
Florida Statute 893.13(6)(a) defines possession on a controlled substance without a prescription as:
“A person may not be in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance unless such controlled substance was lawfully obtained from a practitioner or pursuant to a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his or her professional practice”
This is considered a third-degree felony and the charge is punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a $5,000 fine, and a permanent felony conviction on your record.
However, possession of a prescription drug not in your name can be legal depending on if the person it was prescribed to authorized that you could hold the drug on their behalf. A notable case was McCoy v. State, 56 So. 3d 37 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010).
A woman was charged with trafficking when she was found with a prescription bottle with her husband’s name on it. However, she said, and her husband agreed, that she simply was holding it because he did not have a pocket. The court found that:
“Pursuant to section 465.003(6), Florida Statutes (2008), pharmacies may lawfully dispense medications to a consumer or his or her agent. Further, a pharmacist may dispense a schedule III controlled substance ‘when the pharmacist or pharmacist’s agent has obtained satisfactory patient information from the patient or the patient’s agent.’ Sec. 893.04(2)(a), Fla. Stat. (2008). Thus, schedule III controlled substances may be ‘lawfully obtained’ by an agent of the prescription holder who can provide ‘satisfactory patient information.’ An agent is ‘[o]ne who is authorized to act for or in the place of another.’ Blacks Law Dictionary 68 (8th ed. 2004).”
Although being charged with possession of a drug not prescribed to you may feel like all hope is lost, there are defenses that an experienced lawyer can argue on your behalf. If you have been charged with this offense, get in touch with Michael B. Cohen for help.