Can You Be Prosecuted for Possessing a Drug Without a Prescription?

If you are carrying a prescription drug outside the original packaging and without the paper prescription, you could be arrested for possessing a controlled substance without a prescription — even if a doctor actually prescribed it to you. Although carrying a prescribed drug that isn’t in its original packaging is legal under Florida law, some enforcement officials either aren’t aware of the law or don’t follow it, which can lead to unfortunate and sometimes costly consequences.

If you are arrested for possessing a drug that was legitimately prescribed to you or a relative, a skilled attorney with experience successfully defending such cases can help. For example, your lawyer can raise the “prescription defense,” providing the court with the prescriptions for drugs you may have been carrying for yourself or for someone else, such as an elderly parent. The law restricts you from obtaining drugs illegally but not from putting them in another package, such as a daily pill dispenser.

Your lawyer may assert a defense based on the legality of the police conduct, regardless of whether you’re able to produce a prescription. In 2012, a Florida man, Wallace Deaton, was arrested when police stopped him for parking improperly. With his consent, they searched him and found a single Oxycodone pill in his pants pocket. Deaton said he had a prescription at home, but officers arrested him on the spot. A trial court suppressed the evidence on the ground that there was no probable cause for a warrantless arrest. An appeals court, in State v. Deaton, upheld the decision, noting that “it is not unusual for a traveler with a valid prescription to separate a pill from the prescription bottle for later consumption.”

If you or someone you care about has been arrested for possessing a controlled substance without a prescription, contact a lawyer with experience in successfully handling drug possession cases. They can intervene with police and prosecutors and work with you to develop a sound strategy for your defense.

Key West Criminal Defense represents clients charged with drug possession and other criminal cases in Key West and southern Florida. Call (305) 417-9378 or contact us online for a free consultation.

Scroll to Top