Los Angeles Prescription Forgery Defense Lawyer
An increasing number of Americans are becoming addicted to and abusing prescription drugs. Opioids and other painkillers are particularly problematic. In order to get your hands on these types of drugs, you typically have to have a valid prescription from a licensed doctor. However, it is also possible to obtain opioids and painkillers by forging a prescription. In California, you can face some harsh penalties if you forge a prescription or possess prescription drugs that were obtained using a forged prescription.
It’s important to seek legal assistance immediately if you’ve been charged with a prescription drug crime in Los Angeles. Contact the Rodriguez Law Group to schedule a free case assessment. For nearly two decades, our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys have been dedicated to fighting on behalf of clients like you. We know that drug charges can change your life forever. We’re here to help you fight to protect your future. Call today to learn more.
Forging a Drug Prescription
It’s unlawful to forge a drug prescription in California. Forging a prescription, as defined by California Business and Professions Code Section 4324(a) BPC, occurs when you:
- Sign a prescription for drugs with another person’s name, or
- Alter and try to pass off that prescription as genuine.
When you are accused of forging a prescription, the state must prove at least one of these things.
Signing Another’s Name
What does it mean to sign another person’s name? 4324(a) BPC explains that forgery occurs when you “sign the name of another, or of a fictitious person.” In other words, you can sign a real person’s name or a fake person’s name. It’s a forgery if it’s not your name.
Example: Diane swipes her sister’s prescription pad from her purse and writes a script for painkillers. She signs her sister’s name to the bottom.
Example: Steve finds an old prescription pad while renovating the home he recently purchased. He writes himself a prescription and signs a fake doctor’s name to the bottom.
Passing a Forged Prescription as Genuine
You don’t necessarily have to sign a prescription pad to be guilty of forgery under 4324(a) BPC. It’s also a crime to falsify or alter a prescription in any way. The statute explains that forgery occurs when you “falsely make, alter, forge, utter, publish, pass, or attempt to pass, as genuine, any prescription for drugs.”
Example: Joe uses a software program to design his own prescription sheets for “Dr. Jones.” Dr. Jones doesn’t exist, except on paper. Joe writes himself a prescription for opioids and signs “Dr. Jones” to the bottom. He has created a fake prescription and signed another person’s name to the bottom.
Example: Sam’s doctor has written him a prescription for painkillers to take at home while he recovers from a nasty fall. Sue, Sam’s sister, notices the script sticking out of his bag. She takes the prescription and carefully changes “Sue” to “Sam.” and increases the refills from “1” to “10.” She brings the newly-altered prescription to the pharmacy and asks for them to fill it on the spot.
Example: Jeff’s doctor sends an electronic prescription to the pharmacy. Jeff is unhappy that his doctor reduced the dose of his painkillers, so he calls the pharmacy and pretends to be his doctor. He asks the pharmacist to increase the dosage on the prescription that was just sent over. The pharmacist is tricked by the phone call and changes the dose. Jeff’s actions falsely altered the prescription in violation of 4234 BPC.
Possession of Drugs Secured by Forged Prescription
It’s not just a crime to forge a prescription for drugs. It’s also a crime to have drugs that were obtained using a forgery. Under 4234(b) BPC, any person “who has in his or her possession any drugs secured by a forged prescription” is guilty of a crime.
Knowledge isn’t necessarily a requirement under 4234(b) BPC. Nowhere does the statute say that you must “knowingly” possess drugs that were secured using a forgery. However, the state will probably try to determine how you came to be in possession of the drugs and whether or not you knew they were secured by a forgery. The results of this investigation will likely affect the penalties you face if convicted.
Penalties for Prescription Forgery Crimes in Los Angeles
In California, crimes involving prescription drug forgeries under 4234 BPC are classified as wobblers. In other words, either crime (forgery or possession) can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The state will take many factors into consideration when determining which charge is most appropriate. These may include:
- Your criminal record
- Prior similar acts
- The extent of the forgery, and/or
- Quantity of drugs in your possession.
When charged as misdemeanors, forging a drug prescription or possessing drugs secured by a forgery are punishable by 12 months in a Los Angeles County Jail and/or $1,000 in fines.
When charged as felonies, forging a drug prescription or possessing drugs secured by a forgery are punishable by between 16 months and 3 years in a California state prison and/or $10,000 in fines.
You may also be sentenced to probation if convicted of either crime.
Defending Prescription Forgery Crimes in Los Angeles
You have the right to defend yourself if you have been accused of forging a prescription or possessing drugs secured by a forgery. Remember, the state has the burden of proving that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A strong defense can make it tough for the state to build a strong case against you. This can help you secure a plea or even get the charges dropped altogether.
Arguments that can be used in a defense for a prescription forgery crime include:
- False accusations
- Mistaken identity
- You did not actually sign the forged prescription
- You did not call the pharmacy
- You didn’t realize that you had drugs that were obtained by a forgery; or
- Prescription medication was found as a result of an illegal search or seizure.
Hiring an attorney to handle your defense will help you secure the best possible result in your case. Contact our Los Angeles drug crime attorneys today to learn more.
Call Our Los Angeles Prescription Forgery Defense Attorneys
Forged prescriptions are contributing to the country’s growing opioid crisis. The state will not hesitate to charge you with a crime if it believes you have forged a prescription or obtained drugs using a forgery. Just because you’ve been accused of a crime doesn’t mean that you’ll be convicted. You have the right to defend yourself, and the Rodriguez Law Group can help. Call our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys to schedule a free consultation and learn more.