Recently, many law abiding people have been faced with loss of drug insurance coverage or loss of medical benefits altogether. When this happens and they still need prescription medications for severe pain it can lead to the temptation of forging prescriptions for medications. Prescription drug fraud also often occurs when low income individuals with severe pain can’t get prescriptions for medications through valid channels. Additionally, when someone has had a long term pain issue their prescribing doctor may refuse to refill prescriptions for pain medications.
Going into a pharmacy with a forged prescription can lead to multiple felony charges being filed by the District Attorney. Just going into the pharmacy with the intent to use the forged prescription is a violation of Penal Code Section 459-460 (b) (burglary). Then presenting the forged prescription is a violation of Penal Code Section 470(a) (forgery) and more specifically, a violation of Health and Safety Code Section 11368 (forging or obtaining a forged prescription). Three felonies occurred all by the simple act of trying to obtain pain medication under a false prescription. Finally, if one is successful in obtaining the drugs, a charge of illegal possession of a controlled substance can be filed, violation of Health and Safety Code Section `11350(a).
Just because the District Attorney files these multiple felonies doesn’t mean a conviction must be the result. Various diversion programs can be used to obtain dismissal of these charges. If a “real” need for the prescription drugs can be shown many times the District Attorney will recognize the just result for the case is treatment rather than conviction and incarceration. It is vital to demonstrate a medical addiction or some medical condition that requires the drug the client was so desperate to obtain.
The criminal defense lawyer usually isn’t going to be able to show that the client didn’t get the drugs legally. Either the pharmacy has video or some other identification given by the client when the prescription was filled The essential job of the criminal defense lawyer is to establish the human element of the “need” for the drug. Once the legitimate “need” for the drug is established the illegal aspect of obtaining it through a forged prescription can be mitigated.