Doctors in California use prescriptions to allow patients to legally acquire certain restricted medications, including painkillers. Sometimes this system may be misused. Individuals who attempt to get prescriptions they don’t need may face criminal charges under California Business & Professions Code Section 4324(a): Prescription Forgery.
BPC 4324(a) charges can be complicated to understand on your own. Get more information about all aspects of a prescription forgery charge from the Simmrin Law Group. You can even go over some legal defenses for BPC 4324(a) accusations right here.
Defining Prescription Forgery in California
Prescription forgery can occur if an individual attempts to obtain a prescription in someone else’s name. This can involve signing the name of:
- Another Real Person
- A Fictitious Person
Individuals may be charged with prescription forgery if they alter a legitimate prescription. Additionally, the court system can charge an individual under BPC 4324(a) if they falsely made or forged a prescription and tried to convince others that it was genuine.
Other Charges Related to Prescription Forgery
The court can use a number of different charges to prosecute individuals who are trying to illicitly gain prescription medications. Depending on the situation, individuals could face the following criminal charges in addition to prescription forgery:
- California Business & Professions Code Section 4323: False Representation to Obtain a Drug
- California Business & Professions Code Section 4324(b): Possession of Drugs Secured by Forged Prescription
- California Business & Professions Code Section 11173: Doctor Shopping/Prescription Fraud
Anyone of these charges can have serious impacts if a conviction is secured. A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can increase your odds of beating these charges and protecting your future.
Prescription Forgery Examples
Go over the following examples of prescription forgery to increase your understanding of this criminal charge:
A man developed an addiction to Vicodin after he broke his leg. His doctor began lowering his prescription. The man decided to alter the prescription to make it appear that he was supposed to receive a greater quantity of Vicodin. He could be charged with prescription forgery.
A woman found a prescription pad while at her doctor’s office and she took it with her when she left. She used the pad to write fraudulent prescriptions and signed them with her doctor’s name. If she were caught, she could be convicted under BPC 4324(a).
Penalties for a Prescription Forgery Conviction
The court system in California can prosecute prescription forgery as a misdemeanor or a felony. Generally, the prosecution will decide on the severity of the charges after considering:
- The Defendant’s Criminal History
- The Facts Surrounding the Case
Misdemeanor prescription forgery charges are not as severe as felony charges. However, a misdemeanor conviction can still lead to:
- Fines of Up to $1,000
- Jail Time of Up to 1 Year
A felony BPC 4324(a) conviction can include the following penalties:
- Fines of Up to $10,000
- Jail time of Up to 3 Years
Note that – in some cases – the court may grant individuals probation. Probation requires individuals to adhere to certain regulations handed down by the court. In prescription forgery cases, individuals are generally required to complete some form of a drug-treatment program. Any failure to heed the rules of the court can lead to probation violation charges in this situation.
Legal Defenses to BPC 4324(a) Accusations
You do have legal options if you are accused of a BPC 4324(a) violation. A criminal defense lawyer can dig into your case to develop a defense. Depending on your situation, your lawyer may be able to show that:
You Never Signed the Forged Prescription
Taking a prescription with the intent to alter it may not be a perfect decision, but you should only face criminal charges if you sign it with someone else’s name. If you never signed the prescription, you may be able to avoid a prescription forgery conviction.
A Mistake Occurred at the Doctor’s Office or Pharmacy
Sometimes, police officers find prescriptions that appear to be forged due to an accident at a pharmacy or a doctor’s office. If you received a prescription that contained an error that you are not responsible for, you should not be convicted under BPC 4324(a).
Get Help Handling Prescription Forgery Charges
Getting professional help right away can increase the odds that you will beat the California Business & Professions Code Section 4324(a): Prescription Forgery charges. You can start building a defense with the Simmrin Law Group by calling (310) 997-4688, or filling out our online contact form.
Start focusing on your case by contacting our criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles for a FREE case evaluation.