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Los Angeles Forging a Prescription for a Narcotic Drug
If you’re charged with forging a prescription in Los Angeles, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you safeguard your legal rights and explore options that may be able to help you achieve the most positive outcome given the circumstances of your case.
What Is Forgery?
Forgery specifically refers to tampering with a written or printed document or instrument with the intent to defraud. The standard for proving the intent under California state law is whether or not the altered document could either deceive or cause financial harm to an individual who believes the document to be authentic.
Business and Professions Code 4324 BP
Business and Professions Code 4324 BP makes it a crime to forge a prescription for drugs or to possess drugs that were obtained through the use of a forged prescription. Prescriptions under this statute can also refer to phone calls that are made to a pharmacy during which the caller impersonates a health care professional who has the authority to prescribe drugs. The statute covers prescriptions written on pads that were stolen from health care providers as well as legitimate prescriptions that have been altered to increase the amount of prescribed medication.
Violations of Business and Professions Code 4324 BP can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies at the District Attorney’s discretion. Penalties for misdemeanor violations can include a county jail term of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000. Penalties for felony violations can include up to three years in a county jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
California Health and Safety Code 11368
California Health and Safety Code 11368 specifically addresses prescription forgeries that are undertaken for the purpose of obtaining narcotics such as opiates. The statute also makes it illegal to possess narcotic substances obtained through the use of a forged prescription.
Violations of California Health and Safety Code 11368 can be charged either as misdemeanors or felonies. Penalties are similar to the penalties that apply for a violation of Business and Professions Code 4324 BP.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, law enforcement officials are required to notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement if you are arrested pursuant to this statute.
Misdemeanor or Felony?
In determining whether to charge violations of either of these two codes as a misdemeanor or a felony, the District Attorney will review a number of factors, including the alleged perpetrator’s past criminal history and whether or not the drugs obtained fraudulently were sold or retained for personal use. Additionally, felony charges are frequently made initially as a means of persuading the alleged perpetrator to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge.
Possession of a forged prescription is not a violation of either Business and Professions Code 4324 BP or California Health and Safety Code 11368. The crime occurs when some party attempts to use the forged prescription. If you did not realize the prescription you used to obtain drugs was forged, you may have grounds for disputing charges brought under these two statutes. Even if the drugs in your possession were obtained fraudulently through the use of a forged prescription, if the drugs were discovered in violation of California’s search and seizure laws, you may also have grounds to dispute charges. Speaking with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles is the best way to explore the options that may be available to you.