Prescription Drug Fraud and Forgery in Charlotte, North Carolina
Physicians have the right to legally prescribe certain types of medications to their patients. Some of these medications can be expensive, especially prescription pain medication. When people become addicted to prescription medication, they may be willing to go the great lengths to obtain the medications or drugs.
As a result, North Carolina places significant restrictions on how prescription drugs can be obtained. Failure to abide by state laws regarding prescription medication can lead to criminal charges that carry serious penalties, including possible imprisonment and steep fines. If you have been accused of any type of crime related to writing fraudulent prescriptions, it is important that you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible.Types of Prescription Drug Fraud in North Carolina
Many different types of actions can constitute illegal prescription drug or medication forgery or fraud, such as:
- False identity: Collecting drugs or medications that were originally prescribed for another person, such as a friend or family member
- Altering original prescriptions: Changing the number of pills that a doctor initially wrote on a valid prescription to increase the dosage is illegal
- Impersonating medical staff: Using a doctor's identification to impersonate them to obtain prescription medication is illegal
- Prescription forgery: Using stolen prescription forms or cards to print or write your own prescriptions is illegal
- Doctor shopping: Consulting with or requesting care from multiple positions or doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions is illegal
According to North Carolina General Statute § 90-108, the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act, multiple types of prohibited acts can lead to prescription drug charges. Some of the illegal acts apply to the actual physicians or their employees with access to prescription drugs or related materials.
Some apply to patients who are prescribed drugs. When a person unknowingly violates the statute, the crime will be charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, if the alleged offense was intentionally committed, it is a Class 1 felony offense with more serious penalties. Some of the most commonly charged criminal acts related to prescription fraud or forgery charges include the following:
- Refusing or failing to make, keep, or furnish any required record, notification, order form, statement, invoice, or information
- Using in the course of the manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance a registration number that is fictitious, revoked, suspended, or issued to another person
- Acquiring or obtaining possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge
- Obtaining controlled substances through the use of legal prescriptions that have been obtained by the knowing and willful misrepresentation to or by the intentional withholding of information from one or more practitioners
- Furnishing false or fraudulent material information in, or omitting any material information from, any application, report, or other document required to be kept or filed, or any record required to be kept
- Making, distributing, or possessing any punch, die, plate, stone, or other thing designed to print, imprint, or reproduce the trademark, trade name, or other identifying mark, imprint, or device of another or any likeness of any of the foregoing upon any drug or container or labeling thereof to render such drug a counterfeit controlled substance
The penalties for prescription forgery depend on multiple factors and are determined using a complex "structured sentencing" system. This method classifies alleged offenders based on the severity of crimes and the extent and gravity of their previous criminal records. Judges use structured sentencing to determine the minimum and maximum ranges of sentences and the type of punishment. For misdemeanors, three prior conviction levels impact sentencing:
- Prior conviction level I - An alleged offender with no previous convictions can face a community punishment of up to 45 days
- Prior conviction level II - an alleged offender with one to four convictions can be sentenced to a community, intermediate, or active punishment of up to 45 days
- Prior conviction level III - an alleged offender with five or more convictions can be sentenced to a community, intermediate, or active punishment of up to 120 days
Facing criminal charges for prescription forgery can be intimidating, but remember that every case has its own unique elements. Certain defenses apply only to certain situations. Still, some common defenses include showing that the prescription was valid, that you were an authorized recipient, and that there is no criminal intent. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC to schedule your free initial consultation and learn more about how we can fight for you.