Whether it was for some mild pain killers or something more serious, most of us have probably been prescribed medication at some point. We often use the word “prescription” to describe the medication we need. However, a prescription is not medicine but authorization from a medical professional to obtain certain medications. When people use fake or forged prescriptions to get controlled substances, they may be charged with crimes related to prescription fraud.
Prescription fraud may not seem like a very serious offense, but it comes with significant penalties. Prescription requirements are designed to prevent people from obtaining potentially dangerous drugs without the supervision of a doctor. Using fraudulent prescriptions puts your safety and possibly the safety of your community at risk as dangerous drugs are left unchecked.
If you went behind your doctor’s back to get a prescription or used some means of fraud, you could be criminally charged. Our Salt Lake City prescription fraud attorneys can help you prove your prescription was not fraudulent. The team at Overson & Bugden can meet to discuss your situation in a free legal consultation. Call us today at (801) 758-2287.
Charges for Using Forged or Faked Prescriptions in Salt Lake City
Prescription fraud can include charges for creating a forged prescription or altering an existing prescription. They can also apply to people who knowingly and intentionally have an altered or faked prescription in their possession. Our Salt Lake City prescription fraud attorneys can assess your charges and help defend you against them.
Criminal charges for offenses related to prescription fraud can be found under Utah Code § 58-37-8(2)(a)(iii). Under the law, it is a criminal offense to knowingly and intentionally possess a forged, faked, or altered prescription for a controlled substance.
Charges for possession of a forged or altered prescription may be Class B misdemeanors for a first conviction. The charges may be upgraded to Class A misdemeanors for a second offense and third-degree felonies for a third or subsequent offense.
If you created or altered the prescription, you could be charged with forgery under Utah Code § 76-6-501(2). This charge would be in addition to the charges for possession of a forged prescription mentioned above. A defendant may be guilty of forgery if they altered a prescription without authority or tried to use an altered prescription at a pharmacy. Forgery charges also apply to producing or making prescriptions that are completely false and did not originate with a doctor, like using a fake or stolen prescription pad. A defendant may be guilty of a third-degree felony for forgery.
Methods of Obtaining False or Forged Prescriptions in Salt Lake City
The law punishes people for knowingly and intentionally possessing altered or forged prescriptions, and there could be any number of ways in which a person could obtain such a prescription. It is important to think about how you came across the allegedly forged or falsified prescription, as it may be used to demonstrate that you knew the prescription was faked or altered.
Law enforcement may find it very suspicious if you visited multiple doctors to obtain a prescription. Typically, doctors do not issue prescriptions to patients who do not need medication. People who want prescription drugs but have no medical need sometimes visit multiple doctors hoping one can be convinced to write a prescription. If you went to several doctors before being found with an altered prescription, it might lead the police to believe you knew the prescription was altered.
Visiting multiple doctors is not always indicative of some nefarious intent. Sometimes, patients suffer from difficult-to-detect medical conditions, and they must visit multiple doctors before finding one who finally believes them. If that is the case, our Salt Lake City prescription fraud attorneys can help you strategize a legal defense.
Other methods of obtaining a prescription are blatantly deceptive or outright illegal. Defendants who are caught buying and selling prescriptions, impersonating doctors, or stealing other people’s prescriptions may have a harder time defending themselves against criminal charges. When the prescription is obtained in a clearly illegal or fraudulent way, it is easier for a prosecutor to prove that you knew the prescription in your possession was altered or otherwise fraudulent.
Penalties for Prescription Fraud in Salt Lake City
The charges for possessing an altered or otherwise faked prescription may be Class A or B misdemeanors or third-degree felonies. Similarly, the production of fake or altered prescriptions may lead to forgery charges for third-degree felonies.
A Class B misdemeanor may be punished with a jail term of up to 6 months and fines of no more than $1,000. For Class A misdemeanors, a jail term can be as long as 364 days, and the fines as much as $2,500.
While misdemeanor charges may seem insignificant, they remain on your criminal record forever. Also, fraud convictions may prevent you from getting certain kinds of jobs or even working in certain industries that require a lot of trust, such as banking or anything dealing with money.
A third-degree felony conviction is very serious. You could be sentenced to state prison for as long as 5 years for a single charge. You may also be made to pay fines of up to $5,000.
Even if our Salt Lake City prescription fraud attorneys cannot get your charges dropped or dismissed, we may be able to argue for a more lenient penalty. Many defendants go to such extreme lengths to get prescription medications because they suffer from very serious addictions. If you meet the necessary criteria, a court may be willing to place you in a diversion program for drug offenders, allowing you to possibly avoid incarceration.
Call Our Salt Lake City Prescription Fraud Attorneys
Our team can help if you were charged with forgery or possession of a falsified prescription. Our Salt Lake City prescription fraud lawyers have experience with forgery and possession cases and can help you. The lawyers at Overson & Bugden are available for free legal consultations. Call us at (801) 758-2287.