A criminal defendant, charged with possession of controlled dangerous substance is permitted to introduce evidence of a prescription at trial.In order to be considered non-hearsay, the prescription must be used to establish a statutory defense and be accompanied by authentication.The Court of Appeals of Maryland suggested that the authentication can come in the form of testimony from a prescribing physician, the physicians custodian of records, or the testimony of the defendant, among other things.Ultimately it is still left up to the jury to determine the credibility of the evidence.
In May 2014, the police officers executed a search warrant at the home of Defendant Steven Young.Mr. Young was detained and Mirandized.Mr. Young offered a statement to the police that there were controlled dangerous substances in the home.Upon inspection the Police found, Heroin, Methadone, OxyContin, and Xanax.Young was arrested and charged with possession of controlled dangerous substances and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.Young attempted to file a motion to suppress the evidence of the drugs asserting that he and his wife had valid prescriptions.At trial, the State moved for a motion in limine looking to exclude the prescriptions as hearsay.The trial court granted the motion and Young was convicted.
On appeal, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland affirmed in part and reversed in part.The appellate court found that a valid prescription can provide a basis of a statutory defense to the charges of possession and possession with intent to distribute Methadone, Xanax and, OxyContin.
On review, the Court of Appeals of Maryland, affirmed the lower court’s ruling.The Court found that a valid prescription falls under a verbal act exception to the hearsay rule.In finding this the Court expressed the importance of the prescription in establishing a statutory defense for possession and possession with intent to distribute.In its opinion, the Court suggested several possible methods for authentication previously mentioned.
This holding is important because it will allow in future criminal trials, the Defendant to offer a statutory defense for possession of controlled dangerous substances by showing that they have a prescription. This defense will obviously not extend to possession of illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine. However, it can make a significant difference with medicinal marijuana becoming more prevalent in Maryland.
Shawn Haught, Jr. is a 3L at the University of Baltimore and will graduate in May of 2019. Shawn is a second year staff editor on Law Forum. Shawn is from Anne Arundel County, Maryland and currently resides there. Shawncurrently works at Hassan, Hassan & Tuchman, P.A. a small personal injury law firm in Baltimore City.