“Pill Mill” History Leads To Harsh Prescription Drug Abuse Laws
There are people in the United States that have legitimate reasons to take opiate painkillers, prescribed by their doctor – for example, chronic pain patients or those with terminal illnesses. However, for many years, there has been a growing epidemic in the country of people obtaining prescription painkillers under false pretenses, and those who engage in this kind of behavior will face serious consequences – perhaps especially in Florida. If you have been charged with unlawful possession of prescription drugs, you need to consult an attorney immediately.
A Period Of Deregulation
In the late 1990s, clinics started to appear in Florida that performed very little medical treatment, instead acting as “pill mills” and prescribing painkillers to anyone who made even a pretense of needing them. Manufacturers pushed new drugs in order to make money, rather than to treat illnesses, and the so-called “pill mills” were extremely profitable, which kept them open despite very real harm being done to the people they served. In addition, few laws at the time regulated prescription drugs, instead focusing on street drugs like heroin or cocaine.
New laws and enforcement did not begin to eradicate the pill mills until 2011, after which they began to close – but in turn, the state has been left with a different problem, namely those who formerly sold prescription pills on the street, or the addicts who were left without any help. Florida laws are now able to appropriately charge those who are caught trying to sell or traffick these drugs, though the issue of addiction is still an ongoing fight. If you are caught with prescription pills that you should not lawfully possess, there are many different factors that can determine the eventual outcome of your case.
Sentences Can Be Severe
Because of its history, Florida has some of the strictest penalties for prescription drug abuse in the United States. The state’s Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act follows federal law in dividing drugs into five ‘schedules’ – most prescription painkillers are Schedule II, which means they have some medical use, but are also high risk drugs in terms of their potential for abuse. Possession of most prescription painkillers, if you are caught with less than 14 grams, will be a third-degree felony, which carries a 5-year prison sentence – however, the total amount of the drug in question can add more time on, and can even be upgraded to a trafficking charge if one is found with enough where the intent to sell can be reasonably inferred.
In addition to the actual possession (or trafficking) charge, very often a State’s Attorney will charge a defendant with prescription drug fraud if they can establish that you obtained the drugs via false pretences – for example, if you falsified a prescription or a doctor’s signature, or “doctor shopped,” which means obtaining the same prescription from different doctors without their knowledge. If you are found guilty of prescription drug fraud, this is generally a third-degree felony in addition to any conviction for the actual possession.
Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Crimes Attorney
Prescription drug possession is a crime sometimes borne of desperation, but sometimes simply out of a desire to make money. Regardless, you are entitled to your day in court and the West Palm Beach drug crimes attorneys from the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. will work hard to ensure that your story is told and your rights are protected. Contact our offices today to speak to an attorney.