Florida Trafficking in Hydrocodone Charge Dismissed Where Defendant Had Drug Prescription

Over the last several years in Florida, drug cases involving pills such as Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Roxycontin and other pain pills have become much more prevalent as opposed to more traditional drug crimes involving marijuana, cocaine, crack and heroin.

In a recent trafficking on Oxycodone case south of Jacksonville, Florida, the police searched the defendant and found two prescription pill bottles clearly labeled to contain Oxycodone. The pill bottles were also labeled with the defendant’s name on the prescription. Because the total weight of the Oxycodone pills in the two pill bottles was greater than 4 grams, the Oxycodone pills exceeded the weight necessary to warrant a trafficking charge. While the pills were in clearly marked prescription bottles, the police officer determined that the prescriptions were excessive- one bottle indicated a prescription for the defendant for 160 thirty milligram Oxycodone pills filled on April 7, 2010, and the other bottle indicated a prescription for 224 thirty milligram Oxycodone pills filled on April 9, 2010. The two separate prescriptions for Oxycodone were apparently written by two different doctors that were each unaware the defendant went to the other doctor for the prescription because the defendant never told either doctor she was seeing the other doctor for the same purpose.

A valid prescription for pills such as Hydrocodone from a licensed doctor written in the normal course of business is a defense to the charge of possession of, or trafficking in, pills. However, the state argued that because the defendant was engaged in doctor shopping- going to two different doctors in a short period of time to get prescription pills from each without informing the doctors of each other- the prescriptions were not given in the normal course of business so the legal prescription defense does not apply.

However, the court rejected this argument and found that the defendant did have a valid defense to trafficking in Oxycodone because the defendant did have valid prescriptions for the Oxycodone pills from licensed doctors even though they were obtained through illegal doctor shopping. Regarding the prescription defense, the issue is not whether the defendant was acting appropriately, but whether the prescriptions were issued in the licensed doctor’s normal professional practice. If so, the prescriptions are valid, and a possession of trafficking charge would be dismissed.

The bottom line here is that the state improperly charged the defendant with trafficking in Oxycodone. The defendant clearly violated the law when she obtained the two Oxycodone prescriptions through doctor shopping. However, she still had a clear defense to the trafficking charge. Because the defendant’s crime was doctor shopping rather than trafficking in Oxycodone, the proper charge was in fact, doctor shopping. The state made a mistake and overcharged the defendant so the case was thrown out.

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