Written by attorney Tracey Lyn Sticco

Prescription Pills: Carry With Caution

We’ve all seen the gadgets at the pharmacy. The cool silver screw-top key chains? Those handy Monday-Friday pill boxes that save you the trouble of stuffing your pockets with 15 oversized pill bottles? Well what most people don’t realize is that despite the overabundance of these conveniences, a person can actually be arrested for carrying certain medications on their person without the physical prescription. As any prosecutor or defense attorney will tell you, law enforcement officers make countless felony arrests for Possession of a Controlled Substance—or even Trafficking in a Controlled Substance—despite that person having a valid prescription for the pills.

Sure, the prosecutor will ultimately drop the charge upon proof of a valid prescription, but that does nothing to compensate an innocent person for days or weeks spent in jail pending that decision. Not to mention the inordinate amount of money that person may have spent posting a bond or retaining an attorney. To add insult to injury, even if the charge is dropped, the actual arrest will remain on that person’s criminal record.

Now, to be fair, there are a good number of law enforcement officers who will take the time to verify a person’s prescription before booking them on a felony possession charge. One would think officers would prefer a quick call to the pharmacy over hours of arrest paperwork. But all too many either neglect to take the extra step or simply choose to make the arrest without exerting the extra effort.

So what is a person to do? Well the obvious solution is to carry your pills in their respective containers. But for most of us, that’s just not feasible. A far more practical idea is to request an up-to-date printout from your pharmacy of all of your most recent prescriptions and carry it with you at all times. While it seems tedious, it is nothing compared to the nightmare of a meritless felony arrest.

Additional resources provided by the author

For a more complete understanding of Florida's Controlled Substance laws, please refer to Chapter 893 of the Florida Statutes:

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