America’s opioid drug epidemic still shows no signs of stopping and it probably won’t as long as addicts can still easily go to the doctor and get pills to feed their addiction. That’s why there is such a drive to put an end to prescription drug crimes such as “doctor shopping.” If you have been accused of either of these crimes, it is critical you speak with a San Diego prescription fraud attorney as soon as possible.
Prescription Drug Crimes by Addicts
This type of fraud is generally either committed by patients who are addicts or by doctors. Patients can commit prescription fraud in a number of ways. They may steal a drug pad and forge fraudulent prescriptions. They may fraudulently tell a doctor about a condition that they do not have or that is not as bad as they make it out to be in order to get a prescription. Or they may visit multiple doctors in order to obtain more than one authorization for their drug of choice.
Some of the most common drugs involved in prescription fraud cases are opiates (including Vicodin, Oxycontin, Oxycodine, Codine, Percocet, Fentanyl and morphine), tranquilizers (including Valium, Ketamine, Klonopin and Xanax) and stimulants (including Adderall and Ritalin). When it comes to these charges, it does not matter which drug the addict seeks out, although possession of certain substances can result in additional drug charges.
Prescription Fraud By Doctors
When it comes to doctors committing fraud, this usually happens when a doctor willingly prescribes drugs to addicts with no valid medical needs in exchange for drugs or other payment, such as sexual favors. Sometimes doctors even get a reputation for offering this service and become known as a pill mill that addicts seek out to feed their addiction.
Penalties for Fraud
Whether it is committed by a doctor or a patient, prescription fraud can be a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, it is punishable by up to one year in jail, whereas a felony charge can carry a prison sentence of up to 3 years. Doctors convicted of this crime may also lose their medical license, which makes it even more important for health care professionals accused of this crime to fight the charge with the help of an experienced healthcare fraud lawyer in Oceanside.
How Prescription Fraud Lawyers Can Help
The right defense against prescription fraud charges will vary depending on the specifics of your actual case. In many cases, the best defense will be to prove that the prescription was actually written for a valid purpose, although this does not apply in all situations. For example, if you went to five different doctors on the same day to obtain five different scripts it will not matter if your condition is legitimate because you committed fraud in a different manner. Unfortunately, it can be very easy to say something to the police that may harm your case, which is why it is critical you do not say anything without your drug lawyer present.
It is also worth knowing that some types of this crime allow for drug diversion. Even if the specific charge doesn’t fit within the diversion statute, a criminal defense lawyer can negotiate a plea agreement changing the crime to a divertable offense.
If you have been accused of committing fraud related to the obtaining of drugs, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free consultation with Peter M. Liss.
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