possession of prescription drugsThe criminal defense lawyers at Arnesen Law represent clients charged with a multitude of drug-related offenses, ranging from possession of prescription drugs and cocaine possession, to drug trafficking. These skilled legal practitioners appear regularly in courts throughout South Florida in towns including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and Boynton Beach, focusing specifically on clients charged with criminal and DUI offenses.

Having participated in the investigation and prosecution of countless drug cases during his work as a former police officer, founding partner Jay Arnesen is uniquely qualified to evaluate cases involving alleged drug offenses. In fact, his extensive credentials include certification through The John Jay University School of Criminal Justice’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Advanced Training Narcotics Course. This highly regarded program certification is achieved by law enforcement officials serving a variety of distinguished agencies, including the FBI, DEA, ATF, and US Customs Enforcement Bureau.

With the professionalism, compassion, and expertise to address drug charges from both sides of the law, the attorneys at The Arnesen Law Firm are available anytime at 561-419-9630 to provide free legal consultations.

As a former police officer, I used to help prosecute these charges for the State. Now, let me use my training and experience to combat these charges for you in court.” Jay Arnesen, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney

Possession of Prescription Drugs – Florida Statutes Section 499.03

In Florida, charges related to prescription drugs are addressed under Chapter 499, entitled the “Florida Drug and Cosmetic Act.” Section 003 of this chapter provides the a detailed definition of what constitutes a “prescription drug” under Florida Law. Specifically, 499.003 sets forth:

“Prescription drug” means a prescription, medicinal, or legend drug, including, but not limited to, finished dosage forms or active pharmaceutical ingredients subject to, defined by, or described by s. 503(b) of the federal act or s. 465.003(8), s. 499.007(13), subsection (32), or subsection (52), except that an active pharmaceutical ingredient is a prescription drug only if substantially all finished dosage forms in which it may be lawfully dispensed or administered in this state are also prescription drugs.

The State prosecutes those charged with possession, dispensation, delivery, or possession with intent to sell prescription drugs under Chapter 499, Section 03. As the below statute indicates, individuals accused of simply possessing prescription drugs unlawfully will face second degree misdemeanor charges, while those charged with offenses involving the possession with intent to sell, dispensation, or delivery of prescription drugs will be subject to more serious third degree felony charges.

According to Statute Section 499.03:

(1)    A person may not possess, or possess with intent to sell, dispense, or deliver, any habit-forming, toxic, harmful, or new drug subject to s. 499.003(33), or prescription drug as defined in s. 499.003(43), unless the possession of the drug has been obtained by a valid prescription of a practitioner licensed by law to prescribe the drug. However, this section does not apply to the delivery of such drugs to persons included in any of the classes named in this subsection, or to the agents or employees of such persons, for use in the usual course of their businesses or practices or in the performance of their official duties, as the case may be; nor does this section apply to the possession of such drugs by those persons or their agents or employees for such use:

(a)   A licensed pharmacist or any person under the licensed pharmacist’s supervision while acting within the scope of the licensed pharmacist’s practice;
(b)   A licensed practitioner authorized by law to prescribe prescription drugs or any person under the licensed practitioner’s supervision while acting within the scope of the licensed practitioner’s practice;
(c)   A qualified person who uses prescription drugs for lawful research, teaching, or testing, and not for resale;
(d)   A licensed hospital or other institution that procures such drugs for lawful administration or dispensing by practitioners;
(e)  An officer or employee of a federal, state, or local government; or
(f)   A person that holds a valid permit issued by the department pursuant to this part which authorizes that person to possess prescription drugs.

(2)    The possession of a drug under subsection (1) by any person not exempted under this section, which drug is not properly labeled to indicate that possession is by a valid prescription of a practitioner licensed by law to prescribe such drug, is prima facie evidence that such possession is unlawful.

(3)    Violation of subsection (1) is a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, except that possession with the intent to sell, dispense, or deliver is a third degree felony, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(4)    The department may adopt rules regarding persons engaged in lawful teaching, research, or testing who possess prescription drugs and may issue letters of exemption to facilitate the lawful possession of prescription drugs under this section.(1)

*It is important to note that Florida Law distinguishes between prescription drug crimes involving monetary transactions and those that do not. The above statute addresses transactions that do not involve the exchange of money, while Chapter 499, Section 0051 pertains to charges for “whole distribution transactions” and “drug trafficking” offenses, each of which are considered more egregious violations and are subject to harsher punishments.

Possession of Prescription Drugs – Potential Penalties

It is clear from the following penalties that crimes involving possession with intent to sell, dispensation, or delivery of prescription drugs are considered significantly more serious offenses than those for simple possession. In addition, certain first-time offenders facing second degree misdemeanor charges for prescription drug possession may be eligible for Florida’s Misdemeanor Pretrial Diversion Program, which allows those who successfully complete the program to avoid a criminal charge on their record.

Second Degree Misdemeanor Possession of Prescription Drugs: maximum term of 60 days in the county jail, up to 6 months of probation, and fines not to exceed $500

Third Degree Felony Prescription Drug Offenses: maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, up to 5 years of probation, and fines not to exceed $5,000

Contact Our Palm Beach County Possession of Prescription Drugs Defense Lawyers for a Free Consultation

If you or someone you love is currently facing charges involving prescription drugs in South Florida, it is crucial to be aware of all of your legal options. The seasoned attorneys at Arnesen Law have the information and experience necessary to facilitate their clients as they navigate through the complex legal process. Contact their offices anytime at 561-419-9630 for a free consultation about your case.

Tell Us About Your Case

Jay Arnesen is a retired police officer turned criminal defense attorney who now defends clients charged with criminal and traffic (DUI) offenses in South Florida. With offices conveniently located in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, Mr. Arnesen appears in courts throughout South Florida on a regular basis. Protect your rights, contact experienced criminal defense lawyer Jay Arnesen anytime for a free initial consultation at 866-347-6296.

Arnesen Law, P.A.

Areas We Serve

Palm Beach County, Atlantis, Belle Glade, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Briny Breezes, Cloud Lake, Delray Beach. Glen Ridge, Greenacres, Gulf Stream, Haverhill, Highland Beach, Juno Beach, Jupiter, Lake Park, Lake Worth, Manalapan, North Palm Beach, Ocean Ridge, Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Palm Springs, Riviera Beach, Royal Palm Beach, Wellington, West Palm Beach


Boca Raton

1825 NW Corporate Blvd. Suite 110

Boca Raton, FL 33431

  (201) 556-1570  

Fort Lauderdale

633 South Andrews Avenue

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

  (866) 317-5164