When most people imagine drug charges, cocaine, heroin or marijuana comes to mind. The truth, however, is that offenses related to prescription medications can be just as serious.
The abuse of prescription drugs is a widespread problem. The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that 52 million Americans older than 12 years of age have tried these drugs for non-medical reasons. The most commonly abused prescriptions include Methadone, Vicodin, Valium, Demerol, OxyContin and Xanax.
If Florida police have arrested you on prescription drug charges, then a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney from Leader & Leader, PA may be able to help. Call us today at 954-523-2020 to start planning your defense.
Until then, here are the answers to three FAQs about prescription drug offenses in Florida:
- Is driving under the influence of prescription drugs a DUI offense?
Alcohol is usually the first substance that comes to mind when people think of DUI charges; however, several types of drugs can make a person too impaired to safely and/or legally drive. Even if the medicine is legal and your prescription is valid, you may face DUI charges if police catch you under the influence of certain prescription drugs while driving.
- What is “doctor shopping,” and is it illegal?
“Doctor shopping” refers to going to different doctors to get extra prescriptions to fuel a drug habit. A person that “shops for doctors” usually intends to abuse the substance. Two Florida statutes deal with this activity:
- The first makes it illegal to approach a new doctor for a prescription that you already have. If a doctor prescribes a certain medication, then you cannot get another prescription from a different doctor within the same month. It is also illegal not to inform the new doctor about the other prescription.
- The second makes it illegal to use forgery, misrepresentation, fraud or deception to get a prescription for any controlled substance if you do not need it for medical reasons. At the same time, it is against the law to try to get a prescription for more medication than you require. Therefore, you cannot ask a doctor to give you 60 tablets of a prescription drug if you only need 30.
- What are there penalties of illegally possessing prescription drugs?
The consequences of illegally possessing prescription drugs vary widely. The penalties will depend on how many prescription drugs you have in your possession (typically determined by the total weight of the pill and all the ingredients mixed in) and what type of drug it is. The penalties can range from a misdemeanor for possession of prescription medications that are deemed Schedule V (A substance, compound, mixture, or preparation of a substance in Schedule V has a low potential for abuse relative to the substances in Schedule IV and has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and abuse of such compound, mixture, or preparation may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence relative to the substances in Schedule IV.) substances which can include up to one year in jail. Conversely, a Schedule I substance (A substance in Schedule I has a high potential for abuse and has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and in its use under medical supervision does not meet accepted safety standards. There are 180 substances or more listed.) can result in serious felony charges and significant prison time. See Florida Statute §893.03 for the full Standards and Schedules in Florida.
Possession of controlled substances can range in penalty, as noted above, from one year in jail as a misdemeanor to fifteen years in prison as a second degree felony. See Florida Statute §893.13. Certain weights of various medications obtainable by prescription that are sold or delivered can result in penalties of 25 years to life in prison, large fines and can still be subject to certain trafficking crimes with minimum mandatory sentences.
If Florida police have charged you with a prescription drug offense, then you should take the matter seriously. Call Leader & Leader, PA at 954-523-2020 to start building your defense.