Just as there are people who are willing to pay counterfeit bills to a cashier, there are those who do the same in pharmacies and prescriptions. While we cannot truly pinpoint the exact reason why people do these things, what we do know is that detecting forged prescriptions has become a more difficult task. Others take advantage of technological innovation while some still employ the traditional steal-and-copy technique. Regardless of the method used, faking medical prescriptions is not only dangerous but also illegal.
Under California Health and Safety Code HSC 11162.5, it is unlawful for any individual to:
- Counterfeit a prescription blank, form, or pad to make it seem like a valid prescription, and
- Knowingly possess three or more of these fake prescription forms.
Generally, this law focuses more on the context of controlled substances, wherein it plays as a motivator in the act. For instance, a drug addict may forge a prescription in order to obtain the medication he/she wants. These controlled substances are medications that can be potentially abused by the patient and thus are regulated by the government. Examples of controlled substances include:
- Tylenol with codeine;
- Anabolic steroids;
- Valium; and
- Cough suppressants.
There are many more medications listed under the United States Controlled Substance Act; hence, we encourage you to check them out for more information.
Faking prescriptions can take many forms, which is why being aware of these common scenarios is important especially for pharmacists who are expected to deal with these experiences. For this, we have listed a few examples that violate California Health and Safety Code HSC 11162.5:
- A local woman visits her family doctor for a routine check-up. She knows the doctor very well, and so they get carried away with their conversation. Eventually, the telephone rings and the doctor has to answer the call. The patient glances over the prescription pad placed right at arm's length and decides to take a few pages off while the doctor is looking away. As she arrives home, she immediately writes a prescription to herself using the prescription pad she stole, signed it, and presented it to a nearby pharmacy.
- A recovering drug addict suddenly has an urge to take drugs after having a long, stressful day at work. He tries his best to suppress it, but he fails. Using a previous prescription he obtained from his last doctor's visit, he then copies the format on his computer and prints out copies of it. He then drives to the pharmacy and presents the fake prescription with the details he filled in by himself.
- You're a nurse working at a very busy hospital. The pay is decent, but sometimes not enough to support your family. So, you come up with the brilliant idea to borrow your doctor's prescription forms and photocopy them so that you can sell these pads to potential customers.
- A friend of yours heard that you're selling prescription forms and decided to buy 10 copies of it. He says that he doesn't really have anything to use it for at the moment, but he'll keep it anyway for future use.
There are several penal codes and health and safety codes that are related to HSC 11162.5, such as:
- Forging or altering a prescription;
- Prescribing controlled substance without purpose;
- Doctor shopping;
- Forging prescription for narcotic; and
- Prescribing controlled substances to an addict.
A violation of California Health and Safety Code HSC 11162.5 can either be categorized as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts of the case.
Usually, an offense is only counted as a misdemeanor under this statute if the defendant knowingly possessed less than three fake prescriptions. If so, the penalty would be:
- Not more than 6 months in county jail, and/or
- A maximum fine of $1,000
However, there are also cases where an offense is still considered a misdemeanor even if the defendant possessed more than three fake prescriptions. This truly depends on the circumstances of your case. Nevertheless, the penalty for it is:
- Not more than 1 year in county jail
Finally, a felony offense under this law will lead to:
- 16 months;
- 2 years; or
- 3 years in county jail
We've Got You Covered
There are many defenses that you can use to challenge a fake prescription charge, but given how serious the consequences are, we advise that you seek legal guidance from our roster of skilled criminal defense attorneys. If you reach out to us as soon as possible, the more prepared we can be for your case.
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