What is Prescription Fraud?
Most prescription fraud cases charges are covered under A.R.S. 13-3406A6. The statute says that obtaining a prescription-only drug by fraud, deceit, subterfuge or misrepresentation is a class 1 misdemeanor. Here are some examples:
- Doctor shopping. You visit several doctors, making the same complaint concerning pain. You request pain meds, and you conceal from each the fact that you have requested and received the same or similar medication from the other doctors.
- Impersonating a doctor or medical staff. You call in a prescription to a pharmacy using a doctor’s information but substituting your telephone number for a call-back.
- Prescription forgery. You steal a prescription pad from a doctor’s office, write out and sign a prescription in the doctor’s name.
- Altering the quantity on a prescription. The doctor gives you a prescription for 5 pills. You alter the prescription so that it says 50 pills.
- Creating fake prescriptions. You use your computer to create phony prescription forms, and submit the forms to the pharmacy.
- Falsifying medical records or medical history. You go to a doctor and complain of non-existent symptoms, or a fake injury, to obtain a prescription.
- Multiple use of a single prescription. You take the same prescription to more than one pharmacy to have it filled multiple times.
While most prescription fraud charges involve patients seeking to obtain drugs, doctors can also be charged under the law.
The the law states that prescription fraud is a class 1 misdemeanor, but in some cases your alleged conduct may lead to additional charges. They include, among others, illegal possession of prescription-only drugs (class 1 misdemeanor), possession of a prescription-only drug for sale (class 6 felony); forgery (class 4 felony); and transfer of a prescription-only drug (class 6 felony).
Defenses to Prescription Fraud Charges
Some defenses to prescription fraud charges mirror those in other criminal cases. These include illegal search and seizure, and related issues such as a defective search warrant. But a prescription fraud charge requires proof of intent. Since intent is often inferred from surrounding circumstances, a successful challenge to that element of the offense may be possible, and we may be able to demonstrate that you did not have the requisite intent to misrepresent the facts.
Even where the weight of the evidence against you appears strong, we may be able to negotiate and achieve a reduction in the charges, including situations where your acts were caused by addiction.
Penalties for Prescription Fraud
Many prescription fraud charges are classified as misdemeanors, and if you are convicted, you could theoretically be subject to fines and up to 6 months in jail. Obviously, if additional felony charges are involved, the potential sentence could increase. However, in your case, you may be eligible for alternative sentencing programs and/or probation.
Prescription Fraud Defense Attorneys in Phoenix, AZ
If you have been charged with prescription fraud, the consequences can be serious. Even if the charge is a misdemeanor and you avoid any jail time, a conviction can damage your future, including future employment opportunities. At Feldman & Royle, we understand that prescription fraud is often the result of addiction. We also know that there are defenses to these charges, and that help is available. Call us for a free consultation.