Los Angeles Prescription Fraud Defense Lawyers
Given the ongoing opioid crisis in America, prescription fraud has become a major concern for law enforcement across the country. These types of charges are being pursued more aggressively than ever before, so it’s important that those who stand accused retain the services of an experienced defense attorney in order to obtain the best possible result for their case. Because prescription fraud case convictions have such serious ramifications, it is imperative that those accused contact an attorney as soon as possible.
If you or a loved one has been charged with any kind of prescription fraud, you must take the necessary steps to safeguard your future. The knowledgeable Los Angeles white collar crime defense attorneys at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP can help you fight the charges you’re facing, possibly even getting those charges reduced or dismissed. The right attorney makes all the difference in a criminal defense case.
But you need to act now – contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP today at (213) 688-0460 and tell us about your case.
There are several major types of prescription fraud, depending on who is charged with committing the crime. Prescription fraud is not a crime exclusive to patients. Doctors are often found guilty of the charge as well. The recent drug epidemic in America has made law enforcement especially wary of doctors committing prescription fraud and they are quick to issue an arrest if they suspect that a prescription has been illegally given out.
- Doctor Shopping – This is prescription fraud charged against a patient. In this situation, it is claimed that a patient conceals information or uses deceit to get a prescription for a controlled substance from a doctor.
- Illegal Prescriptions – These are prescriptions for controlled substances, written by medical professionals such as general practitioners or dentists, which are not issued for legitimate medical reasons.
- Altering Prescriptions – If a doctor physically writes out a prescription for a patient, rather than call a prescription into the pharmacy, then that patient has the opportunity to alter the prescription in order to obtain a different medication or more of the medication they have been prescribed.
- Selling prescriptions – After receiving prescription medication, a patient may be tempted to sell the medication in order to turn a profit.
- Forging prescriptions – Doctors will often write prescriptions down on a pad that is specifically marked for prescriptions. If a patient or another medical professional steals this pad, they can write prescriptions that were not authorized by the original doctor.
While altering or forging prescriptions is considered a form of fraud, the charges related to such acts may not necessarily be prescription fraud charges and you could also face charges like intent to sell or distribute controlled substances.
You may have heard the term “controlled substance” from your doctor as they fill out your prescription or even from the media. However, you may not know what a controlled substance is legally. In the 1970s the federal government took a special interest in drug crimes and introduced new legislation in order to crack down on related crimes. Part of this effort included categorizing potentially dangerous drugs into different “schedules.” The schedules are numbered one through five, and any drugs that end up on a schedule are considered controlled substances.
Controlled substances are thought to be addictive, with the chance of chemical dependency developing in users. However, many controlled substances do have a medical use, and so may be prescribed. Using a controlled substance without a prescription is illegal and is likely to result in serious charges. A state’s drug schedules may differ from the official federal schedules, however. For example, marijuana is a Schedule I drug on the federal level, meaning that it is considered highly addictive with no medical use. In California, however, marijuana is legal for recreational use and not considered a controlled substance.
Prescription fraud in California is a “wobbler,” which means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. This is typically at the prosecution’s discretion and often depends on the specific nature and details of each case. As the opioid crisis has become a greater concern, prescription fraud has been charged more aggressively, particularly against doctors – since many people view doctor over-prescription as a major contributing factor in the crisis.
One approach an experienced prescription fraud defense attorney can take it to fight for the lesser charge – getting the incident charged as a misdemeanor rather than a felony. Penalties for each type include:
- Misdemeanor Prescription Fraud – Punishable by up to 1 year in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
- Felony Prescription Fraud – Punishable by up to 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in county jail, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.
A doctor charged with or convicted of prescription fraud can also face professional censure, including the loss of a medical license. While charges may be enough to begin an investigation by the Medical Board of California, a conviction will weigh heavily in such an investigation and make a license suspension very likely.
For prescription fraud to occur, it must be proven that a patient used deception or similar methods to obtain a prescription. If it can be shown that there was no deceit or fraud involved, such as if a doctor made a prescription error, then that can defend against a fraud charge. Similarly, a doctor must be shown to have knowingly written a prescription for purposes other than legitimate medical reasons. A strong defense against such a charge includes showing that the prescription was written in good faith and for proper medical reasons.
Finding the right defense for your case, however, will require an in-depth examination into your charges, as well as the circumstances around the alleged fraud. A skilled attorney will be able to build a defense from the information they obtain during their investigation. Some common defenses that our team has used in the past include:
- You did not use deceit or fraud to get the prescription
- Your arrest was unlawful
- You were a victim of entrapment
- The patient left out key information when you filled out their prescription
Determining what the best defense and course of action for your case will require experience, skill, and tenacity. While a public defender will be made available to you, you will need an attorney who can give you their undivided attention. You need the best legal team and you shouldn’t settle for anything less.
Prescription fraud can be a serious charge, especially when charged as a felony. Since the opioid epidemic, our court system takes these sorts of charges incredibly seriously, and you are unlikely to get much sympathy from the judge or jury. Defeating the prosecution will take a lot of work. Do not leave things up to chance or hope a public defender has the time to really focus on your case. Call us at (213) 688-0460 and let Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP fight for you.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.