Florida residents can be arrested and charged with drug crimes when they are found in possession of illegal controlled substances. Some people might not realize that they can also face drug charges when they are caught in possession of prescription medications without valid prescriptions. While this offense might not be treated as harshly as certain other types of drug crimes in Florida, the potential penalties are still severe.
Possession of prescription drugs without a prescription
A person who is caught in possession of prescription drugs without a valid prescription can be charged with illegal drug possession. If they possess more than the threshold amount of the substance, the state can treat it as prima facie evidence that the individual possessed the drugs with the intent to sell. Simple possession of prescription drugs without a prescription is a first-degree misdemeanor with a potential penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine. However, if the person is convicted of possessing prescription drugs with the intent to sell, they will have a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Defenses to possession of prescription drug charges
There are several possible defenses to possession of prescription drug charges, depending on the facts and circumstances of what happened. For example, if the police respond to a report of domestic violence, they will question the parties to determine whether a crime has been committed. A suspicion of domestic violence by itself does not give police the right to conduct a warrantless search of the individual’s home. If the police search the home and discover prescription drugs, they might be suppressed from evidence because of the illegal search.
People can also defend against these types of possession charges by showing they had a valid prescription for the drugs that were seized. Being charged with possessing prescription drugs without a valid prescription does not mean that the person will be convicted as charged and is not evidence of guilt.