Over the last few years, we have seen how police in Florida have taken a much greater interest in so-called pain clinics, making a multitude of arrests of a wide range of people from the owners and doctors at the pain clinics to the people who use the prescription medication obtained at the pain clinics.
In a recent case south of Jacksonville, Florida, police were conducting surveillance in the parking lot of a pain clinic. They observed the defendant exit the pain clinic and enter a vehicle with two other people inside. The police officer followed the vehicle and watched as the three occupants apparently passed around a prescription pill bottle. Based on this observation, the police officer stopped the vehicle and arrested the defendant for doctor shopping after finding the pill bottle.
The criminal defense lawyer filed a motion to suppress evidence of the pill bottle alleging that the stop of the vehicle was invalid. The police officer testified that he had been investigating pain clinics for years and it is common for people to come from long distances to these pain clinics, buy prescription pills with cash without a proper medical exam and then share the pills with others in the parking lot.
The court found that the experience of the police officer along with his observations at the pain clinic were sufficient to give him reasonable suspicion to believe the defendant was illegally sharing drugs in the vehicle, although the observations of the police officer could also be explained by perfectly innocent conduct.