Prescription Drug Fraud / Prescription Forgery
Physicians legally prescribe certain medications or other drugs for pain relief or other medical needs. Some of these medications can be highly addictive or very expensive. This occasionally leads to people going to great lengths to acquire prescription medications or drugs through alternative means.
As a result, North Carolina places many restrictions on how prescription drugs may be obtained. Failure to abide my state laws can lead to a person facing criminal charges with serious penalties, including steep fines and possible imprisonment.
Raleigh Prescription Drug Fraud Lawyer
If you have been accused of any type of crime relating to fraud or forgery involving prescription drugs, you should not delay in seeking legal counsel. Coolidge Law Firm understands the many ways that these types of criminal charges can affect the lives of ordinary people, which is why we work tirelessly to help clients achieve the most favorable outcomes to their cases.
Our Wake County prescription forgery attorneys represent people throughout Raleigh and such surrounding areas as Morrisville, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Garner, Wake Forest, Apex, Cary, and several other local areas. You can have our firm review your case during a free consultation as soon as you call (919) 239-8448.
Wake County Prescription Forgery Overview
- What kinds of acts can result in these criminal charges?
- How does state law classify these crimes?
- What are the possible sentences people face if they are convicted?
- Are there any defenses against these charges?
There are many types of actions or schemes that can constitute prescription drug or medication forgery or fraud. A few examples include, but are not limited to:
- Doctor Shopping — This occurs when a patient allegedly consults or requests care from multiple doctors or physicians in order to obtain multiple prescriptions.
- Prescription Forgery — People may use stolen prescription forms or pads to print or write their own prescriptions.
- Impersonating Medical Staff — Some alleged offenders may call in fraudulent prescriptions and use their own phone numbers for confirmation purposes.
- Altering Original Prescriptions — People may change the quantity that a physician originally wrote on a valid prescription in order to increase the dosage.
- False Identity — Alleged offenders can collect drugs or medications which were originally prescribed for friends or family members
North Carolina General Statute § 90-108 establishes several prohibited acts under the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act. Some of the 14 acts apply to the actual doctors, physicians, or employees with access to prescription drugs or related materials, and some apply to people who are prescribed drugs.
A few of the acts that commonly result in prescription fraud or forgery charges include:
- 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 which is fictitious, revoked, suspended, or issued to another person
- Acquiring or obtaining possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge
- 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 so as to render such drug a counterfeit controlled substance
- Obtaining controlled substances through the use of legal prescriptions which have been obtained by the knowing and willful misrepresentation to or by the intentional withholding of information from one or more practitioners
If a person unknowingly violates this statute, then the crime is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, if the alleged offense was committed intentionally, then this is a Class I felony offense.
In the state of North Carolina, punishments are determined using a very complex “structured sentencing” system. This method classifies alleged offenders based on the severity of the crimes for which they are currently being sentenced as well as the extent and gravity of their previous criminal records.
Judges not only use structured sentencing to determine the minimum and maximum ranges of sentences, but also to determine the type of punishment. North Carolina uses three kinds of punishment: active (prison or jail sentences), intermediate (supervised probation with certain conditions, possibly including a split jail sentence), or community (any sentence other than an active punishment).
For misdemeanors, there are three prior conviction levels that impact sentencing. Regardless of the type of punishment, there is only one sentence range established for these offenses. If an alleged offender is accused of a Class 1 misdemeanor prescription drug forgery or fraud crime, he or she could face one of the three following sentences:
- Prior Conviction Level I — An alleged offender with no prior convictions can be sentenced to 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.
In misdemeanor cases, the court can also impose a fine against an alleged offender.
A similar sentencing chart is used for felonies, but there are more sentence ranges and the chart uses more prior record levels instead of prior conviction levels. A worksheet is used to determine the number of Prior Record Level points based on the alleged offender’s previous convictions.
The sentencing chart also includes three sentence ranges: an aggravated range for cases with aggravating factors, a mitigated range for cases with mitigating factors, and a presumptive range for typical cases where the aggravating and mitigating factors balance each other out. For a Class I felony, the sentencing ranges are as follows:
- Prior Record Level I (0-1 point) — An alleged offender may be sentenced to a community punishment with a mitigated range of three to four months, a presumptive range of four to six months, or an aggravated range of six to eight months.
- Prior Record Level II (2-5 points) — An alleged offender may be sentenced to an community or intermediate punishment with a mitigated range of three to four months, a presumptive range of four to six months, or an aggravated range of six to eight months.
- Prior Record Level III (6-9 points) — An alleged offender may be sentenced to an intermediate punishment with a mitigated range of four to five months, a presumptive range of five to six months, or an aggravated range of six to eight months.
- Prior Record Level IV (10-13 points) — An alleged offender may be sentenced to an intermediate or aggravated punishment with a mitigated range of four to six months, a presumptive range of six to eight months, or an aggravated range of eight to 10 months.
- Prior Record Level V (14-17 points) — An alleged offender may be sentenced to an intermediate or active punishment with a mitigated range of five to seven months, a presumptive range of seven to nine months, or an aggravated range of nine to 11 months.
- Prior Record Level VI (18 or more points) — An alleged offender may be sentenced to an intermediate or active punishment with a mitigated range of six to eight months, a presumptive range of eight to 10 months, or an aggravated range of 10 to 12 months.
Regardless of the prior record level, all felony offenses also involve post-release supervision. This is a mandatory term of supervision following release, and Class I felony offenders receive nine months of post-release supervision.
While these criminal charges can be very intimidating, a conviction is never automatic. Every case has its own unique elements, so certain defenses are applicable only to certain situations.
Generally, some of the most common defenses against these charges include, but are not limited to:
- Prescription was valid and alleged offender was authorized recipient
- No knowledge prescription was forged
- No criminal intent
- Lack of evidence
- False accusations
- Multiple drugs were prescribed or multiple doctors or physicians were consulted for valid separate medical purposes
Find the Best Prescription Forgery Lawyer in Raleigh
Are you currently under investigation or have you already been arrested for alleged fraud or forgery relating to prescription drugs in North Carolina? Coolidge Law Firm can fight to have the charges against you reduced or possibly even dismissed.
Our firm represents clients all over Wake County, including students at such colleges in the Raleigh area as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), Duke University, Shaw University, William Peace University, Meredith College, Wake Technical Community College (Wake Tech), and North Carolina State University. Call (919) 239-8448 today to have our Wake County prescription drug fraud attorneys review your case during a free consultation. Do NOT talk to investigators without a lawyer present and STUDENTS do not talk to school officials without consulting an experience attorney who knows the special circumstances of being a student.