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Can police arrest you for carrying prescription meds outside of the original container?

| Apr 12, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Many people who take prescription drugs take them in other locations besides their home. That means they carry them in their purses, backpacks or maybe their pockets. They may even keep them in the glove compartment of their car.

That’s typically fine if the medication is in its original bottle or other packaging with the prescription medication label on it. However, people often move their prescription meds into easier-to-open, generic containers. If they’re traveling, they may organize all of their pills and supplements by day in a travel-sized dispenser. They may even just keep a few loose somewhere. Typically, the law accounts for what’s often called “reasonable repackaging.”

The higher the schedule, the greater the penalties

Problems may arise if your medication is a controlled substance that is illegal to possess without a prescription. You could expose yourself to legal liability if you have more than a few pills and you don’t have evidence of your prescription with you. Further, even if you have a bottle from the pharmacy with the label on it, you could have problems if the prescription on the label is expired or if the pills don’t match the description. 

That’s especially true for frequently abused medications like opioids and Adderall, Xanax, Ambien, Percocet and other scheduled drugs. The higher the drugs are on the federal government’s list of controlled substance schedules, the more severe the potential legal penalties are. Schedule I is the highest, and Schedule V is the lowest.

What if the meds are someone else’s?

What if you can’t show that you have a prescription even if you remember the password to the pharmacy app on your phone because you’re carrying around some prescription medication that a friend or relative gave you? Maybe they gave you a few pills for your back pain to tide you over until you could get to the doctor. 

Whatever the situation, if you’re pulled over and caught with scheduled drugs that are someone else’s prescription, the potential legal ramifications can be serious.

If you’re facing charges after law enforcement caught you with prescription drugs and no prescription, then you must take these charges seriously. The government does. An experienced attorney can help protect your rights, present your defense and work to mitigate the consequences.