Prescription Drug Offenses
The Broward County Human Services Department says that “Florida has become the prescription pain medication capital of the nation” after the county saw an increase in the use of pain medication and resulting fatalities. Various city, county, and state initiatives have attempted to crack down on establishments prescribing or dispensing prescription drugs without medical purpose.
It is important for people to remember that many prescription drugs are classified as controlled substances under Florida state law, meaning that it is a criminal offense to possess a prescription drug without a valid prescription. Florida has multiple statutes addressing prescription drug crimes, and many are felony offenses that carry steep prison sentences and large fines.
Attorney for Prescription Drug Offenses in Fort Lauderdale, FL
Were you recently arrested in Broward County for any kind of prescription drug crime? Do not say anything to authorities without first contacting Meltzer & Bell.
Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell are experienced criminal defense lawyers in Fort Lauderdale who aggressively defend clients accused of drug offenses in communities all over South Florida, including Hollywood, Margate, Coconut Creek, Coral Springs, Davie, Deerfield Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach, and many others.
You can have our attorneys provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (954) 765-6585 to set up a free initial consultation.
Overview of Prescription Drug Offenses in Broward County
- Which kinds of prescription drugs are most frequently involved in these crimes?
- What are some examples of prescription drug crimes?
- Where can I find more information about prescription drug offenses in Broward County?
Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs in Florida
The Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act is similar to the federal Controlled Substance Act in that it also divides controlled substances into five groups referred to as schedules. Different prescription drugs are classified into different schedules, depending on their potential for abuse and currently accepted medical use.
The severity of some prescription drug crimes may be impacted by how the drug involved is classified. Some of the most common prescription drugs in Florida include, but are not limited to:
- Alprazolam (Xanax);
- Amphetamines (Adderall);
- Atorvastatin (Lipitor);
- Barbiturates (Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal, Phenobarbital);
- Benzodiazepines (Ativan, Halcion, Librium, Valium, Xanax, Klonopin);
- Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine);
- Diazepam (Valium);
- Diphenoxylate (Lomotil);
- Eszopiclone (Lunesta);
- Fentanyl (Duragesic);
- Hydrocodone / Acetaminophen (Vicodin, Anexsia, Lortab, Lorcet, Norco, Zydone);
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid);
- Lisinopril (Zestril, Prinivil);
- Losartan (Cozaar);
- Meperidine (Demerol);
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta);
- Morphine (Kadian, Avinza, MS Contin);
- Omeprazole (Prilosec, Losec);
- Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet);
- Oxymorphone (Opana);
- Pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal);
- Percocet (Oxycodone and Acetaminophen);
- Propoxyphene (Darvon);
- Propoxyphene / Acetaminophen (Darvocet);
- Synthroid (Levothyroxine);
- Zaleplon (Sonata); and
- Zolpidem (Ambien).
Types of Prescription Drug Offenses in Broward County
One of the most common prescription drug crimes in Florida is possession of a controlled substance—a criminal charge that is typically the result of a person possessing a prescription drug without a valid prescription.
Under Florida Statute § 893.13(6)(a) a person cannot 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.
In most cases, illegal possession of a prescription drug is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. When a person allegedly possesses more than a specific amount of certain prescription drugs (such as more than 10 grams of enumerated Schedule I controlled substances), illegal possession of a prescription drug becomes a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. An individual could be charged with a drug trafficking crime based simply on possession of a bottle of a certain medication without a prescription.
Another common prescription drug offense concerns the practice known as “doctor shopping”—obtaining controlled substances from multiple physicians. Florida has two statutes relating to this crime—both of which are third-degree felony offenses:
- Florida Statute § 893.13(7)(a)8 makes it illegal to withhold information from a practitioner from whom the person seeks to obtain a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance that the person making the request has received a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance of like therapeutic use from another practitioner within the previous 30 days; and
- Florida Statute § 893.13(7)(a)13 makes it illegal to with the intent to obtain a controlled substance or combination of controlled substances that are not medically necessary for the person or an amount of a controlled substance or substances that is not medically necessary for the person, obtain or attempt to obtain from a practitioner a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, subterfuge, or concealment of a material fact.
Florida Statute § 893.13(7)(a)9 establishes the crime of obtaining prescription by fraud. If an alleged offender acquires, obtains, or attempts to acquire or obtain possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, or subterfuge, it is a third-degree felony.
If a person possesses a prescription form or pad that has not been properly and legally completed and signed by the practitioner whose name is on it, he or she commits the crime of illegal possession of a prescription form under Florida Statute § 893.13(7)(a)7. This crime is also a third-degree felony.
Florida Prescription Drug Offense Resources
Drug Abuse Trends In Broward County, Florida Annual Report: June 2017 — View the full text of a June 2017 United Way of Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse report examining patterns and trends of substance abuse in Broward County. The report found that deaths related to the non-medical misuse of prescription opioids (particularly oxycodone) have increased since their decline from 2011 to 2013 following the state’s crackdown on prescription drug diversion. “The sharp escalations of heroin use, treatment admission, and deaths in Florida along with stable and high levels of prescription opioid indicators constitute an opiate epidemic,” the report states.
Florida Attorney General | Pill Mill Initiative — On June 3, 2011, Governor Rick Scott signed House Bill 7095 (HB 7095), otherwise known as the pill mill bill (a pill mill is a doctor’s office, clinic, health care facility, or other operation that prescribes or dispenses prescription drugs in violation of medical standards). On this section of the Florida Attorney General’s website, you can learn more about the legislation, the Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns, and congressional testimony. The website also examines the facts surrounding the pill mill issue.
Find a Prescription Drug Offenses Defense Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, FL
If you were arrested for a prescription drug crime anywhere in South Florida, it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel before making any statement to authorities. Meltzer & Bell represents individuals in Weston, and Wilton Manors, Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Plantation, Pompano Beach, Sunrise, Tamarac, and many surrounding areas of Broward County.
Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Call (954) 765-6585 or submit an online contact form to have our lawyers review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free, confidential consultation.