Patients and doctors are sometimes charged with prescription fraud. On the patient side, it’s called “doctor shopping” and involves committing fraud to get prescriptions from many doctors (Health & Safety Code 11173 HS). The Health & Safety Code for doctors who write illegal prescriptions is covered in 11153 HS.2.
HS 11173 covers a crime that includes shopping around for prescriptions at many different doctors to obtain prescription narcotics like Oxycodone, Vicodin, and other common controlled substances. There must be deception, misrepresentation, or subterfuge present in the commission of the crime. For example, concealment of the fact that the patient has been to many doctors in the last week to get the exact same prescription.
Doctors who knowingly provide these drugs to patients who don’t need them might be violating 11153 and can be charged with Prescription Fraud as well. This means that someone comes in complaining of pain frequently and the doctor scribbles out a prescription without verifying that there is a legitimate medical issue going on, or if the doctor simply writes too many scripts for a certain medical condition, knowing that the patient is shopping around for other doctors in the meantime.
Here are just a few of the ways that someone might commit prescription fraud:
– A patient sends a friend in to complain of chronic back pain and then buys the prescription from the friend or even just takes it because the friend allows him to
– A woman recovering from a painful car accident becomes addicted to meds and begins seeing a half dozen different doctors to get supplied with her medicine
– A doctor prescribes painkillers to any patient, at any time they ask, as long as they pay a flat fee (no real condition required to scribble out the script)
Each of these situations involves a breach of trust between the doctors and patients and each one is usually dealt with swiftly by the courts. In order for our healthcare system to work, trust must be established, and doctors who prescribe powerfully addictive painkillers for no reason violate their oath and the laws of California.
Penalties for doctors usually include more than just criminal court penalities. They’re likely to lose their license to practice medicine and this can be a severe, long-term consequence that forever alters the course of their life. Patients, too, can have severe consequences. Under California law, this is a “wobbler” offense, meaning it can be a felony or a misdemeanor.
If a misdemeanor
– Up to a year in county jail
If a felony
– 16 months, two years, or three years in jail
If you’re charged with this crime, a good defense attorney can aid you in defending yourself. They might argue that you did not use fraud or deceit to obtain the prescription. In other words, the patient can say that they were forthright about where they’ve obtained prescriptions and the doctor still wrote the script. The most common defense for doctors is that they truly did write the script because they believed the client was in pain, and it was for a legitimate medical reason. Sometimes this defense works very well because the bulk of people on narcotic pain meds DO have legitimate medical conditions that make life miserable for them. The courts sometimes have compassion about those things, and defense lawyers can use it to your advantage if you really do have a legitimate medical condition. Entrapment (someone set you up) is another common defense.
Whatever the circumstances behind your Prescription Fraud charge is, you NEED to contact a lawyer as soon as possible and let them help you. If your charge is a felony, there’s no excuse to go it alone. You’re facing up to 3 years in jail and a possible fine as well. A lawyer will construct a defense for you or work to have the charges dropped altogether. Another possibility is probation instead of jail for you. If you are already charged with this crime, there’s no time to lose. Call on a great lawyer today and get help.
Anyone charged with prescription fraud could face serious legal consequences in the state of California. Even if you did not intentionally commit this crime, authorities may still hold you accountable if certain laws were violated.
What is Prescription Fraud?
This type of crime occurs when someone attempts to obtain prescribed medications without having a valid prescription from a doctor. Prescription fraud can be committed by creating a fake prescription, altering the details on a physician’s prescription, or stealing a doctor’s prescription pad to write fake prescriptions for yourself or other people. In California, you could also be charged with this crime if authorities find you in possession of a controlled substance and you are unable to show proof that it was prescribed by a doctor. A doctor may also be charged with prescription fraud if he or she knowingly wrote a prescription for a patient that was not necessary.
Prescription Fraud Penalties in California
Depending on the severity of the crime, you may receive a misdemeanor or felony charge. A misdemeanor conviction will likely mean that you will have to spend one year in a county jail. For each felony charge, a three-year prison sentence is generally imposed. Additional fines may also have to be paid.
How Our Law Firm Can Help You
If you are facing prescription fraud charges, we can act as your legal representative while your case is being decided. When you become a client of ours, we will:
Carefully Review Your Case: We will look at all the details of your case so that we can attempt to put together a defense strategy that will work in your favor. Your specific charges will be reviewed so that we can try to determine whether or not these charges should actually apply to you. We will also look at the actions that were taken by the authorities at the time of your arrest in order to identify any misconduct that may have jeopardized your rights.
Explain Your Rights and Obligations: Regardless of the nature of the alleged crime, you are entitled to certain legal rights. Information regarding your rights will be thoroughly explained so that you will stand a better chance of protecting yourself while dealing with the justice system. We will also inform you of your legal obligations so that you will not get into even more trouble with the law.
Argue on Your Behalf in Court: A representative from our firm will present your case before a judge and argue on your behalf while attempting to get you the most lenient sentence possible. If your innocence can be proven, we may even be able to have your charges dismissed altogether. If you are called to the stand to give a testimony, we will make sure you are fully prepared to answer all questions and object to any unlawful actions taken by the prosecution.
You do not have to deal with your prescription fraud case alone, and our law firm in Los Angeles can assist you throughout the entire legal process. Contact us now for a consultation.
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