I was pulled over by the police, and they found medication in the car. I got the pills from a friend who has a prescription, but the prescription is not in my name. I’m taking the medication to treat a health condition I have. Can I face criminal liability for this?
Yes. As most people are aware, under Florida Statute 893.13 it is illegal to have a controlled substance in your possession unless that controlled substance is prescribed to you by a licensed practitioner providing you with medical treatment. Common controlled substances include but are not limited to amphetamines such as Adderall, benzodiazepines such a Xanax, and narcotics, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, and morphine. Possession of a controlled substance without a prescription is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000.00 fine.
If law enforcement finds a controlled substance in your possession during a search of your vehicle, a possible defense that may be available to you is to have that evidence suppressed. Your attorney can request a suppression hearing to argue that the evidence obtained during the search was improperly obtained and should therefore not be used against you. Sometimes law enforcement may use illegitimate means to obtain evidence. Evidence that is not properly obtained in compliance with the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure then that evidence cannot be admitted. Most searches require a warrant, with a few exceptions. A warrant is not needed if consent to search is given, or if the evidence is in plain view of the officer. A warrant may also not be needed if exigent circumstances exist to justify law enforcement performing a search without a warrant. Examples of exigent circumstances may include immediate threats to a person’s safety that require intervention by law enforcement during which the evidence is found, law enforcement having knowledge that evidence is actively being destroyed, or a suspect fleeing from law enforcement. It can be difficult for the prosecution to establish that exigent circumstances existed if that is the basis for the search, so a skilled attorney can have evidence obtained under these circumstances suppressed. If these key pieces of evidence are not admitted after a successful suppression hearing it is likely that charges may be dismissed.
Bottom line: If you are arrested for possession of prescription medication while driving a vehicle make sure the police conducted the investigation within the limits of the law.