Understanding Prescription Fraud
If you are charged with or currently under investigation for prescription drug fraud, consider speaking with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Our experienced attorneys at the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall have years of experience representing criminal defendants in countless types of cases and a deep understanding of prescription fraud laws. Attorney Rosenthall has experience on both sides of the justice system, as both a criminal defense attorney and formerly as a prosecutor. Because of our wide range of experience, we may be able to help investigate your case, raise any possible defenses, and work with the prosecution to minimize your penalties. Call us at 703-934-0101 for a free consultation with one of our Virginia attorneys.
Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs
Prescription drug fraud can affect physicians and consumers alike. Unfortunately, there are some very addictive prescription drugs on the market, many of which have contributed to substance abuse problems and the opioid epidemic. While these are still highly controlled substances, they are available by prescription because there has been deemed to be acceptable medical use for them. Some of these commonly abused prescription drugs include:
Painkillers, such as Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycontin, and Morphine
Stimulants, such as Adderall and Ritalin
Depressants, such as barbiturates and sleep medications
Prescription Drug Fraud in Virginia
Under Virginia Code § 18.2-258.1, a person is guilty of prescription drug fraud when they obtain or attempt to obtain any controlled substance or marijuana, either:
By deceit or misrepresentation
By forgery or alteration of a prescription
By concealment of a material fact
By use of a false name or false address
This law also makes it illegal to provide false or fraudulent information in a prescription, or to omit information from a prescription. Prescription fraud also makes it illegal to assume a false identity as a pharmacist, physician, dentist, or another authorized purpose in order to obtain a controlled substance or marijuana. The Drug Enforcement Agency advises that some of the common prescription violations include:
Stealing prescription pads from doctors
Calling in a false prescription
Altering a legitimate prescription
Using computers to falsify prescriptions
Pharmacists are advised to look out for warning signs of potential fraud and abuse.
Punishment for Prescription Drug Fraud
Prescription drug fraud is a Class 6 felony in Virginia. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-10(f), a Class 6 felony is punishable by one to five years in prison. The court may also decide to sentence you to up to 12 months in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
Upon your first prescription drug fraud conviction, the judge may opt to place you on probation upon terms and conditions. One of these conditions must be a mandatory evaluation and entrance into a treatment or education program. Another condition of this probation would be that you must remain drug-free during the whole period and consent to random drug testing. If you successfully complete your probation, you will be found guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Other Prescription Drug Crimes
Note that fraud is not the only crime related to prescription drugs. Prescription drugs are controlled substances, just like illegal narcotics. Controlled substances are categorized by “Schedules” in Virginia based on their addictiveness and whether there is any acceptable medical use. Without a prescription, the use, possession, distribution, and manufacturing of a controlled prescription drug are against the law in Virginia.
This means that it is against the law in Virginia to buy or sell prescription drugs, or even to use or possess prescription drugs given to you by someone else, like a friend or family member. Even if you are suffering from the same ailment the drug was designed to treat, it must have been prescribed to you. A common scenario that arises, such as on college campuses, is that students share ADHD medications, like Adderall and Ritalin, as “study drugs.” This violates both state and federal law. Our attorneys at the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall understand the full range of prescription drug crimes and may be able to help investigate your case.
Applicable Federal Laws
Prescription drug crimes are often prosecuted at the federal level. Some of the relevant federal laws that apply include:
Controlled Substances Act (CSA): The CSA is the federal law that places all controlled subjects into schedules. Virginia’s drug laws largely mirror the CSA, but federal sentences for the same offenses are often more severe.
Federal Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA): The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates drugs through the FDCA. Any misbranded, mislabeled, or adulterated prescription drugs may be in violation of the FDCA, in addition to other state and federal drug laws.
Drug Enforcement Agency regulations: The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is a branch of the Department of Justice. Its mission is to investigate federal drug crimes. The DEA promulgates regulations specific to pharmaceutical drugs to ensure they are being issued in accordance with federal law. These regulations deal with how prescriptions are to be filled, whether they can be refilled, and how they are to be labeled, among other considerations.
Defending a Prescription Drug Charge
There are various ways to defend a prescription drug charge, such as:
Challenging unlawfully collected evidence, such as statements made in violation of your Miranda rights, or evidence obtained in an unlawful search of your home or car
Arguing that you did not knowingly possess illegal prescription drugs
Proving that the drugs were actually prescribed to you
An experienced attorney may be able to review your case and help identify any applicable defenses to your prescription fraud charge.
Talk to an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
The attorneys at the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall have extensive experience representing criminal defendants in a range of drug crimes. We understand that arrests and criminal charges are often the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and in many cases, substance abuse disorders should be treated as a disease, rather than a crime. Our experienced attorneys work closely with our clients to help them seek a favorable outcome in their case.
Contact us at 703-934-0101 to set up a free consultation with one of our Virginia criminal defense lawyers.