Prescription fraud occurs when an individual either illegally acquires a prescription for personal use or for profit. Prescription fraud can also occur when a physician writes a prescription for an individual when the medication isn’t needed. In California, prescription fraud can either be a misdemeanor or felony.

What Does the Prosecution Have to Prove?

The prosecution must prove the defendant did the following; 

  • The defendant signed the prescription using someone’s name
  • The defendant didn’t have the authority to sign the prescription
  • The defendant knew he or she didn’t have the authority to write the prescription
  • The defendant intended to commit fraud by signing someone’s name to the prescription 

Can I Be Charged if The Prescription was Valid, but I Changed the Amount?

Yes, changing the amount of the prescription is considered prescription fraud. The prosecution will have to show that the defendant counterfeited the prescription in addition to the above list. 

I’m a Doctor Facing Prescription Fraud, What Does the Prosecution Have to Prove against Me?

The prosecution must prove different elements against a medical defendant such as: 

  • The doctor wrote the prescription for a controlled substance
  • The doctor knew he or she was writing a prescription outside the scope of professional treatment
  • The doctor intended to write a prescription for an individual who was a habitual drug user or for an illegitimate medical use

What is the Punishment for a Prescription Fraud Conviction?

The specific punishment depends on the defendant’s prior criminal history and the seriousness of the case. For example, a physician convicted of prescription fraud may be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to a year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. 

However, a defendant who is not a physician may be charged with a felony and face up to 3 years in jail and/or a fine up to $10,000.

Should I Contact a Lawyer for Help with My Charge?

Yes, contact a California criminal lawyer regarding your criminal charge. The attorney will determine the correct defense to use to fight the charge.