Crimes involving prescription drugs are steadily on the rise in Utah and many other states. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, forging or possessing a forged drug prescription can lead to serious consequences. If you or a family member was arrested for possessing a forged prescription for drugs, you should consult with an experienced Salt Lake City drug possession lawyer. Darwin Overson knows how stressful and frightening it can be to navigate through Utah’s criminal process. Fortunately, Darwin has over 16 years of criminal law experience and has dealt with a variety of drug crimes during his career. Overson Law is here to explain the penalties for a forged drug prescription in Utah.
Prescription Drug Laws in Utah
Utah Criminal Code § 58-37-8 discusses prohibited conduct pertaining to the possession and use of prescription drugs. This statute states that it is illegal for any individual to knowingly or intentionally possess a prescription drug that was not prescribed by a physician or another medical practitioner in the course of their job.
It is also illegal for a person to possess a forged prescription, whether they forged it personally or obtained it from another person. There are various controlled substances that may qualify as a prescription drug, like opioid pain relievers and other Schedule II drugs like Adderall. If a drug is classified as Schedule II, it means that there is a high potential for the drug to be abused, but the drug does have approved medical uses as well.
There are various other circumstances that can cause an offender to be arrested for possessing or attempting to possess a prescription drug, including the following:
- Forging a physician’s signature to a prescription
- Stealing another person’s prescription and attempting to impersonate them to receive the prescription
- Altering the medication or the amount of medication that a doctor prescribed
- Impersonating staff at a doctor’s office and contacting a pharmacy to fill a prescription
- Stealing blank prescription forms and filling them out
- Visiting multiple doctors to obtain various prescriptions
- Purchasing a forged drug prescription
This is not an exhaustive list; there are many other prescription-related offenses that an offender can be arrested for violating. To learn more about forged prescription offenses in Utah, you should speak with an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer.
Penalties for Violating Forged Prescription Drug Laws
The penalties for altering or possessing a forged prescription typically vary depending on the number of times the offender committed the crime. For example, first time offenders who violate Utah’s forged prescription drug laws are usually charged with a class B misdemeanor.
Misdemeanors are less serious offenses than felonies and range in severity from class C misdemeanors (the lowest grade) to class A misdemeanors (the highest grade). Class B misdemeanors prescription drug offenses are punishable by up to six months in jail and $1,000 in criminal fines. If you commit a second offense involving forged prescription drugs, you will be charged with a class A misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanors carry a penalty of up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines.
If the offender is on their third offense for possession of forged prescription drugs, they will be charged with a third degree felony. Third degree felonies are the least severe type of felony that you can be charged with, and first degree felonies are the most severe. However, third degree felonies still carry serious penalties, including up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in criminal fines.
A first time forged prescription drug offender may be able to avoid paying a criminal fine if they perform “compensatory service.” Utah offers community service opportunities to certain offenders who commit class B or C misdemeanors. To receive compensatory service as an alternative to a fine, Utah courts must believe that this arrangement is in your best interests and in the interests of justice. Every hour of service completed is worth $10, and you can work for organizations such as the following:
- State or local agencies
- Nonprofit organizations
- Other organizations approved by the court
There is also a possibility you are eligible for Drug Court. Drug Court is a program that allows an offender to undergo mandatory rehabilitation and other procedures to get their guilty plea withdrawn and their charges dropped. However, if you do not complete the program, your sentence may be reinstated.
Work with a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney on Your Drug Case
If you or a family member was arrested for violating Utah’s forged prescription drug laws, you should contact an experienced Layton criminal defense attorney. Overson Law has represented clients in Salt Lake City and across Utah, and we would be proud to represent you in your drug case. To schedule a free legal consultation, contact Overson Law at (801) 758-2287.