San Diego Prescription Drug Fraud Lawyers
Addiction and abuse of prescription drugs has been a major problem throughout the United States for years. For this reason, California takes prescription drug fraud very seriously. It is a criminal offense to use drugs that were not prescribed to you, and to attempt to defraud doctors and pharmacists in any way.
Physicians and other medical professionals violate the California Health and Safety Code when they knowingly issue a controlled substance prescription for the patient’s illegitimate use. Anyone charged with committing such a crime needs to speak to a qualified San Diego prescription drug crime attorney to avoid jail time.
There are many different types of prescription drug fraud. Any time a person deceives a doctor or pharmacist in order to obtain drugs, he or she could be charged with prescription drug fraud. There are some common methods people use when attempting to defraud a doctor or pharmacist.
- Altering a prescription given and signed by a doctor. A patient may alter a prescription in order to increase the number of pills prescribed, increase refills or allow for refills if the doctor did not, or add another drug onto the prescription. An individual may also steal a prescription pad and write his own prescriptions, forging a doctor’s signature as he does.
- Obtaining a prescription lawfully and selling those drugs to another person for profit. Prescriptions are only meant to be used by the person the prescription was given to. When they are not, it is considered prescription drug fraud; particularly when the person the prescription was written for was making money off of that prescription.
- Doctor-shopping. With this fraud, patients go from doctor to doctor collecting prescriptions. They may say they had an accident and the injuries are causing them severe pain. But every time they visit a doctor, they act as though it is the first time they have sought medical help in order to get the prescription. So instead of getting one prescription for oxycodone, they get five. Like all prescription drug fraud crimes, this is considered deceitful and unlawful and can result in jail time if a person is caught.
Any medical professional who is licensed to issue prescriptions to patients in the state of California could be found guilty of prescription drug fraud. This includes doctors, nurses, dentists, podiatrists, psychiatrists, and others. A legitimate medical purpose for a prescription is defined under California law as a prescription for medication meant to treat a medical condition in a professional’s area of practice. By law, prescriptions should not be issued to aid an addict of a controlled substance. A physician can face serious consequences, including the loss of a license, when they break the law.
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration classifies drugs, substances, and chemicals into five categories (or Schedules) based on acceptable medical use for the drug and its potential for abuse by the user. Schedule I represents both high abuse potential and severe psychological or physical dependence, while Schedule V drugs represent the least potential for abuse. Some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs include:
When someone has been accused and arrested for prescription drug fraud, the prosecution has the discretion to charge it as a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor charge could result in up to one year in county jail; a felony charge could result in up to three years in state prison.
In California, Proposition 36 applies to first- and second-time drug crime offenders. It states that when a defendant has been involved in a drug crime and it was a non-violent offense, the defendant must be given the option of attending a drug treatment program in lieu of jail time. This is known as a diversion program. Unfortunately, prescription drugs are not listed as eligible drugs in Proposition 36, so this option may not be available to defendants charged with prescription drug fraud.
Facing charges for prescription drug fraud under California law can be a serious matter that can affect you for the rest of your life, whether you are accused of obtaining/using drugs not prescribed to you or you are a physician accused of a committing a crime involving prescription drugs. With the help of a San Diego prescription drug crime lawyer, you may have a chance to fight the charges against you if you can use one of the following defenses:
- As a patient, you obtained a prescription legally.
- As a physician, you did not intentionally prescribe a drug for misuse.
- Your constitutional rights during an arrest were violated by law enforcement.
- Evidence against you was illegally obtained.
- You were entrapped.
- Test results for the drugs in question were tainted.
Prescription drug fraud is a very serious crime to be charged with. If convicted, you have not only the possibility of jail time, but also a mark on your permanent record that could keep you from gaining employment in the future. If you have been charged with prescription drug fraud, give your case the best chance possible and contact jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys at (760) 630-2000.
Our founding attorney, James N. Dicks, is not only a board-certified criminal defense specialist but is also a former narcotics investigator with the LAPD. He knows the system, and he works hard for his clients to keep them out of it. For a free consultation, call now.
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