Orange County Prescription Drug Fraud Lawyers
What is Prescription Drug Fraud?
Prescription Drug Fraud is using some form of deceit in order to carry out an illegal procurement of controlled substances like Vicodin, Oxycodone, and Valium. Under California law, there are two major types of prescription drug fraud that are committed: one by the patient and the other by doctors. It is important to know the distinction between these two forms of prescription drug fraud, who commits them, how they are committed, and what the penalties are if found guilty of these offenses.
If you are accused of being involved in prescription drug fraud, seek the legal assistance of an Orange County drug crime lawyer at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti. We will make sure you are receiving a proper defense so you can face these charges knowing we are there to help.
Patient Prescription Drug Fraud
The first type of prescription drug fraud is one committed by patients. California’s Health and Safety Code 11173 states that a person is guilty of prescription drug fraud if they use fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, subterfuge, or concealment of vital information in order to procure controlled substances. Additionally, patients are guilty of this crime if they either made false statements, presented themselves as a medical professional, or forged any labels on packages containing controlled substances in order to illegally obtain these drugs.
In the course of committing this crime, the patient may utilize the strategy of "doctor shopping" which is a strategic crime carried out in order to commit prescription drug fraud. Doctor shopping occurs when a patient visits multiple doctors in an effort to obtain a variety of prescriptions for these controlled substances. They will accomplish this by either lying about the extent of their injuries or withholding information in order to deceive each doctor into providing a separate prescription. The patient will then go and fill these prescriptions, thereby committing fraud.
For example, if a patient has suffered a serious car accident and became addicted to the pain killers prescribed, they may "shop" around to different doctors in order to receive multiple prescriptions, even after their pain is gone. They are allowing the doctors to falsely believe they still require these medicines to help with the pain, while also concealing the fact that they have been seeing other physicians as well.
Doctor Prescription Drug Fraud
The second form of prescription drug fraud is one committed by doctors or other medical professionals including nurses or pharmacists. According to California’s Health and Safety Code 1153, a physician may not issue a prescription for a controlled substance when it is being done for illegitimate medical reasons beyond the scope of their normal professional treatment and when the prescription is meant to provide an addict continuous access to the drug in order to keep them comfortable with what they are used to.
An example of this can occur when a doctor knows of a patient who is addicted to a controlled substance and writes them a prescription for this drug but not for medical purposes; rather, it is meant to provide them with the same drug they are comfortable with so they can continue their addictive behavior.
Punishments and Penalties
In California, prescription drug fraud is considered a wobbler offense, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the prosecutor and the specifics of the case. If found guilty of misdemeanor prescription drug fraud, you could face a sentence of up to one year in jail. If convicted as a felony, the jail sentence could range from 16 months to 3 years.
For doctors who are prosecuted for this crime, they risk facing jail time not exceeding a year and a fine of up to $20,000. Additionally, they may have their medical license revoked.
Get the Help of a Prescription Drug Fraud Lawyer
Do not hesitate when it comes to receiving the help of a licensed attorney experienced in this area of the law. At Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, we will help tackle the complex nature of this crime and give you the best defense when faced with these charges. Give us a call today at (714) 530-9690 or Toll Free (888) 478-8999.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.