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Cases Involving Abuse Of Prescription Drugs

Interviewer: What about cases that involve prescription drug cases? How are those handled?

Glen Malia: Prescription drug cases, there’s a couple of different things. Number 1 is that there’s a criminal law element of prescription drugs and there’s also the Public Health Law.  Anytime you need a prescription drug, there’s also public health law which tells which drugs you need prescriptions for. Generally speaking, if a person has a prescription for a drug, there is no crime for possessing that drug; if you have a prescription for Vicodin and you have Vicodin, you’re not committing a crime for possessing the Vicodin.

Keeping a Prescribed Drug in Another Bottle Can Be the Reason Behind an Arrest

There is a situation whereby sometimes, police will charge although they shouldn’t be charging because it’s not a violation of the Public Health Law unless if you have a prescription of Vicodin or a controlled substance and you have those pills, that medication on your person but you don’t have it in the bottle that it comes in, the prescription bottle that it comes in, you could be charged with a crime under the Public Health Law for having a prescription drug outside of its bottle. However, that’s really only applicable if they can establish that you had it outside of the prescription bottle and this is with the intent to use unlawfully. 

Incompetent Lawyers May Get their Clients to Plead Guilty on Unsubstantiated Charges

So, what happens is that police will frequently charge that and truthfully, unless the lawyer knows the law, I’ve seen people pleading their clients guilty of that crime even though it’s not really a crime because, you know, if someone’s just walking down the street with the Vicodin or Percocet or Ambien or Xanax in their pocket, it’s almost impossible to prove that they have an intent to use it unlawfully. But there’s a second thing coming out, that’s to be sort of discussed when you’re talking about prescription drugs and that goes off on the side.

Common Client Mistakes Detrimental to a Favorable Outcome in a Drug Related Case

Interviewer: What are some common mistakes that you see your clients make when it comes to drug crimes, like mistakes that get or make their case worst for them?

Glen Malia: Admitting that what was found in the car is theirs, particularly marijuana because, the car presumption doesn’t apply to marijuana and frequently, you get several teenagers stopped in a car and there’s marijuana in the car and one of the kids says, “Well, that’s mine”, to try to help everybody else out, if he didn’t say anything, they’ll not be able to prove it if it’s not his car, if he’s not driving. The second biggest mistake is once again, in the car case, consenting to the cop searching your car thinking that he’s not going to find that small amount of marijuana or small amount of drugs in the car. 

It’s a Mistake to Consent to a Police Officer Searching Your Car

This one may be a mistake but also a misconception is to believe that, “Oh, there’s just residue, they’re not going to be able to prove anything with just residue”, whether it’s in a crack pipe, whether it’s in a marijuana pipe or whatever. It’s just residue and they’re not going to be prove anything, so that’s a mistake too just believing that. The biggest mistake obviously is possessing the drugs but then, once you’re caught possessing the drugs, the mistakes are admitting it and/or consenting to search the vehicle or consenting to search your property if the police don’t have the warrants to search your bags, your pocket book or something of that nature, basically giving them consent to search it. 

It is a Mistake to Admit to Possessing an Illegal or Controlled Substance

Another common thing with that consent issue is basically when a cop asks you, and it frequently happens with the car stop, the cop asks, “Do you have anything on you?”, and too often the defendant says, “Yes”, and then pulls something out of his pocket or something out of his underwear when legally the cop would have never been able to get into it.


Malia Law, LLC located in Cortlandt Manor, NY represents Landlords/Tenants throughout Westchester County, Putnam County and Southern Dutchess County, NY.



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