On July 17, 2009, H.D. [St. Lucie County Case No.: 56 2009 CF 1086 A) entered a no contest plea to “Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Fraud”, a violation of Florida’s “Doctor Shopping” Statute.
First, some background.
“Doctor shopping” traditionally has not been considered a terribly serious crime. The “crime” consists of obtaining a prescription for a controlled substance from a Physician, within thirty (30) days of obtaining the same, or similar prescription, from another physician, without telling the 2nd physician that you already obtained the same/similar medication earlier from another Doctor.
It was a fairly inconsequential misdemeanor offense, rarely prosecuted, until the late 1990’s, when the Florida legislature (in it’s “infinite wisdom”) elected to classify the activity as a “felony”. This legislative response occurred concomitantly with the introduction of oxycontin, a potent, time released, and potentially addictive opioid, into the marketplace. Rather than look at other potential solutions, the lawmakers took the “easy” road, simply reclassifying the rule into a felony punishable by FIVE (5) years in the Department of Corrections.
Law enforcement agencies had (and continue to have) a field day with the new law. All they had to do to “make” cases, was to network pharmacists into telling police officers who was picking up prescriptions of narcotics from different physicians within a thirty (30) day period. Thousands were arrested, successfully prosecuted, (sometimes charged with “trafficking”, and facing ‘minimum mandatory’ prison sentences of three (3), seven (7), and even fifteen (15) years in the State penitentiary system) and even today sit in our state prison system. Sick, infirm, (either through horrible illness, drug addiction, or both) citizens, rotted in jail, rather than dealing with their issues in a productive way.
Enter H.D., who hired the wrong lawyer to defend her, and ended up entering what amounts to a guilty plea to something for which she was not guilty.
As a result of the plea, she was placed on probation.
On July 12, 2010, H.D. , a youthful, vibrant young woman with serious medical issues requiring treatment, was charged yet again with “doctor shopping”. Only this time, because she was on probation for the same “crime”, an arrest warrant was signed by a Judge to pick her up and hold her in the St. Lucie County Jail with NO BOND-meaning she could not, under any circumstances, bond out of jail.
The warrant was issued because the investigating Detective simply did not do the kind of thorough, objective kind of job he should have done when dealing with something so dear as a person’s liberty.
Rather than engage in an in-depth investigation, he instead simply acquired information from H.D.’s pharmacist showing that she had obtained similar medications from different Doctors within thirty (30) days.
What the Detective didn’t do was determine that many of the claimed “doctor shopping” incidents, involving “different” physicians, actually involved a single, multi-physician practice——-the “different” physicians were all members of the same “group” of Doctor’s, working at the same clinic, who had access to all of H.D.’s records throughout her visits to the clinic.
H.D. was plain and simply, not guilty of anything: yet a “no-bond” warrant issued for her arrest.
The results of such an arrest would have been devastating……her child would have been left alone and motherless, she would lose her employment, as well as the medications necessary to keep her alive and pain free.
H.D. hired JJK/LLC, and the need for quick, decisive action was obvious. JJK/LLC immediately filed an Emergency Motion to Release H.D. on personal recognizance, or alternatively, to set a nominal bond on the Violation of Probation Arrest Warrant.
The filing, with exhibits, was approximately 60 pages in length, and conclusively demonstrated to the Judge who had issued the warrant that H.D. was entirely innocent, and that jailing her would be an outrageous injustice.
On August 17, 2010, the Judge entered his order DISMISSING the arrest warrant entirely. (Dismissing an arrest warrant after it has been signed and issued is a nearly unheard-of event).
The new charge likewise was “dropped” by the State Attorney’s office.
Don’t allow ‘the system’ to grind you up into it’s clutches, due merely to the shoddy work of an uncaring Detective….seeking to “up” his record of felony arrests.
When trouble comes……call JJK/LLC.