Possession of a Controlled Substance Without a Prescription

Florida, possibly more so than any other State, prosecutes individuals for being in possession of prescription drugs without a valid prescription. Not only are they cracking down on this crime more than ever, Florida officials are going after pill mills and those doctors responsible for overprescribing prescription pain killers and muscle relaxers for profit rather than medical necessity. Anytime this happens there tends to be a large net cast, resulting in many individuals arrested and charged for a narcotics crime they are not guilty of. Because the Tampa Bay area is a hotbed for prescription medication abuse, criminal attorney Jason Mayberry has had occasion to represent many whether they were rightfully accused and needed the best possible plea agreement available, or were wrongfully accused and needed a stout defense. The representation provided by our law firm has proven vital in helping our clients avoid a devastating result.

Florida Statute 893.13(6)(a) makes it unlawful for anyone to possess a controlled substance unless it was lawfully obtained from a medical practitioner pursuant to a valid prescription or order of the medical practitioner in the course of their professional practice. A charge of this nature is a third degree felony carrying with it a maximum penalty of 5 years in the Florida Department of Corrections and up to a $5,000 fine.

The typical scenario involves an individual being pulled over in the Tampa area and found with some kind of prescription pills but without the pill bottle they were originally packaged in. When the individual can’t produce proof of a valid prescription at the scene, the police officer will feel he has probable cause to make an arrest for possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. When this happens, it is of utmost importance to hire an experienced criminal lawyer to make every attempt to prevent the State from filing this charge. Proof from your medical practitioner or pharmacist of a valid prescription can often prevent the State from moving forward, thereby saving you months of worry. In cases where the State Attorney still has doubt as to the legitimacy of the prescription or suspects that the prescription drug was received pursuant to a forged script, it may be necessary to present other scripts written to you by the prescribing medical practitioner so as to authenticate the hand writing in the signature.

If the lawyers at the State Attorney’s Office still refuse to no bill the recommended charge or drop the charges already filed, it may be necessary to take your case to trial. In this situation, you will almost certainly have what is appropriately deemed the “prescription defense” and your Tampa criminal lawyer must raise it at trial. Your attorney must insist upon an instruction read to the jury stating that it is not illegal to possess the substance if you had a valid prescription for it. The prescription defense is built into the statute with which you were charged. Several cases have interpreted the prescription defense and have regularly ruled beneficially to the defendant. State v. Latona, 75 So.3d 394 (2011) addresses the prescription defense and states that 893.13(6)(a) “permits an individual to legally possess a controlled substance where the controlled substance was obtained pursuant to a valid prescription.” This is an issue that has liberally been held in favor of defendants, going so far as to apply a valid prescription defense to doctor shopping. Knipp v. State, 67 So.3d 376 (2011), in headnote 5 stated, “[p]rescriptions for oxycodone possessed by defendants were sufficient to enable defendants to raise the valid prescription defense to charges of trafficking in oxycodone, even if the prescriptions were obtained in violation of the doctor-shopping statute; prescriptions were issued by a licensed practitioner in the normal course of business.” Lastly, and from the Second District Court of Appeal, if one is arrested for drug trafficking they can assert the prescription defense. O’Hara v. State, 964 So.2d 839 (2007).

If you’ve been charged with a crime for possessing a drug you have a valid script for, call the attorneys at The Mayberry Law Firm as soon as possible at 813-444-7435. Due to the nature of this charge, early attention is critical. We are adept at working the front end of our cases and have often obtained results for our clients allowing them to avoid an unwarranted charge.