Rarely Used Law May Reduce Charges for Physicians Accused of Trafficking Prescription Drugs

February 8, 2013

Medical LawDefense attorneys representing physicians accused of overprescribing are breathing new life into a rarely used Florida law. Recently, attorneys have started arguing that physicians accused of trafficking prescription drugs should be charged under section 893.13, Florida Statutes. This law was written specifically for practitioners accused of improper prescribing practices. According to the Orlando Sentinel, prosecutors in the Ninth Judicial Circuit, which covers Orange and Osceola counties, have not pursued a case under this statute in the past 10 years.

Doctors accused of trafficking prescription drugs are normally charged under the state’s prescription drug trafficking law, which is a first degree felony. With such a serious criminal charge comes a potential 25-year prison sentence. However, charges under section 893.13, Florida Statutes, are downgraded to a third degree felony. This offense carries only a maximum of face five years in prison.

Defending Physicians With This Statute.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, last year a Palm Beach County attorney used this statute as a successful argument to reduce the charges against his physician client. The physician’s charges of trafficking were all dismissed by the court. With the successful application of this statute, it’s likely defense attorneys across Florida will continue to attempt to use the legal maneuver. Realistically, Section 893.13, Florida Statutes appears to be the more appropriate law with which to charge physicians. That’s why the Florida Legislature enacted it.

Why the Statute Does Not Apply to Pill Mills.

This law might not help all physicians accused of running pill mills. It specifically states that practitioners cannot write a prescription for a controlled substance for a fictitious person.

Florida law enforcement is currently fighting a prescription drug epidemic. Recent stings by police authorities have landed pharmacists, physicians and other health care providers behind bars.


What do you think of this statute? Have you ever successfully used it for your clients? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.