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Law enforcement realizes that abuse of prescription drugs is a serious and growing problem. While many street drugs are illegal, meaning they can’t be sold or possessed lawfully, prescription drugs are able to be legally purchased and possessed, so long as a licensed doctor has authorized it.
Forging a prescription is illegal, according to California Business & Professions Code Section 4324(b) BPC. If you’re charged with this crime, it’s possible you’ll be convicted of a felony. If you have to go to court, the prosecutor will have to prove that you were in possession of drugs that were attained by a forged prescription.
Offenses Related to the Crime
There are four similar offenses to California Business & Professions Code Section 4324(b) BPC: Counterfeit Prescription Blank, California Health and Safety Code Section 11162.5 HSC; Forging Prescription for a Narcotic, California Health and Safety Code Section 11368 HSC; Possession of Controlled Substance, California Health and Safety Code Section 11350 HSC; and Prescription Forgery, California Business and Professions Code Section 4324(a) BPC.
If you’re at another person’s house and you say that you’re in pain, your friend may offer you prescription painkillers. If you ask your friend how he or she has the painkillers and they say that they forged a physician’s signature and then had the prescription filled at the pharmacy, you may still opt to take the painkillers. If you go home with some of the painkillers in your possession and you end up getting stopped by a police office in a normal traffic stop, the officer may see the painkillers in your car. If you say that you got the painkillers from a friend who got them via a forged prescription, you could be charged with possession of prescription drugs by a forged prescription.
However, if you go to your physician with the hopes of getting a prescription of painkillers, and you create symptoms that you don’t really have to get the prescription, you’re not technically getting a forged prescription. The prescription itself is real and was signed by an actual doctor. It is possible, though, that you’ll be charged with a crime under California Health and Safety Code Section 11173 HSC for prescription fraud.
Defenses of the Crime
Even if you were in possession of drugs that were secured by a forged prescription, you may still have a solid defense. If the police discovered the drugs through a search that they did not have a warrant for, and if that search isn’t backed by reasonable or probable cause, your defense may be that the search was unconstitutional. Your attorney may opt to file a motion that would suppress the evidence. If that motion is granted, that means the evidence would be suppressed, which could stop the case from proceeding.
Penalties of the Crime
If you’re convicted of possessing drugs that were secured by a forged prescription, you could be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. Though Proposition 47 reduced some drug possession cases to misdemeanor status, the law did not affect California Business and Professions Code Section 4324(b) BPC, and the crime can still be considered a felony.
If you’re convicted of a felony for this crime, it could mean as long as three years in prison. If you’re convicted of a misdemeanor for this crime, it could come with a sentence of up to one year in jail.
If you or a loved one has been charged with possession of drugs via a forged prescription, you’ll want to speak with a criminal defense lawyer right away.