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Not all drugs are illegal. Physicians can prescribe certain prescription drugs to their patients to relieve their pain or manage their symptoms. Unfortunately, a good deal of these drugs can be highly addictive.
Florida has made a concerted effort to stop prescription drug fraud and misuse, which has become a more significant issue than illegal drugs. If a law enforcer believes you committed prescription fraud, you could face severe penalties. In this blog post, we’ll look at prescription fraud and how it differs from other drug-related crimes.
What is Prescription Fraud?
Florida is one of the many states in America amidst a drug crisis. For decades, the state experienced a rise in prescription-related drug crimes. While opioid medication has been used to treat pain, it has a nearly identical chemical makeup to heroin, causing patients to become addicted.
The state faced a drastic increase in prescription-related cases and deaths in recent years. Many people choose to obtain prescription drugs illegally due to their addictive nature. One of the common ways they go about it is by prescription drug fraud.
Prescription drug fraud is the illegal procurement of strong substance use for medication. This fraud can occur in pharmacies, hospitals, and other medical facilities where prescription drugs are stored and/or legally distributed.
Under Florida Statute § 893.13(7) (a), obtaining prescription drugs through fraud, deceit, forgery, or misinterpretation is illegal. Committing such acts can lead to criminal charges and, if convicted, can result in severe penalties.
The common drugs that are typically subject to prescription fraud include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Many others
What Are the Common Examples of Prescription Fraud?
Prescription drug fraud can occur in a multitude of ways. Here are the most common examples:
- Making fake prescriptions to get more legal narcotics than usually allowed or permitted;
- Urging physicians to prescribe certain drugs that are not needed in exchange for huge kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies;
- Taking advantage of Medicaid or Medicare by overcharging for prescription medications;
- Impersonating a doctor or medical professional;
- Going from one doctor to another to obtain a prescription for the same drug at different times;
- Forging the signature of a certified and licensed doctor, physician, or other medical professionals; and
- Providing false information to acquire a prescription of a drug you do not need.
What Are the Types of Prescription Drug Fraud Offenses in Florida?
Prescription drugs are under federal and state laws. They are heavily regulated and subjected to the same classification system and charges as illegal narcotics. These drugs can be abused just as quickly as street drugs.
They should be obtained using a lawful and legit prescription, but if abused, a patient may grow addicted to them. Some patients rely on illegal means, like fraud, to get more of these drugs in these cases.
Prescription drug fraud can be charged as a second-degree misdemeanor under Florida law if the method includes forging or creating a false prescription.
Some prescription fraud charges can be classified as a third-degree felony under Florida Statute § 893.13 (7)(a)7-13. Activities that are penalized under this specific law are:
- Putting forged or false labels on a package or bottle containing a controlled substance;
- Using misrepresentation, concealment, fraud, forgery, scam, or deception to obtain a controlled substance;
- Keeping information that you obtained a prescription for the same drug from another doctor or practitioner within the last 30 days from another medical professional you are trying to get a prescription from; and
- Trying to obtain a controlled substance that you don’t need.
How is Prescription Fraud Different from Other Drug Crimes?
Prescription fraud is not exactly your typical drug crime. Many people don’t even know that it is classified as such. It’s mainly because prescription fraud isn’t technically one of the more common drug crimes, making most overlook it.
Most people think drug crimes only involve possessing, selling, manufacturing, and trafficking drugs. Prescription-related drug crimes tend to be forgotten, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less severe. If anything, the penalties for this specific drug crime are just as intense as other drug crimes.
Prescription-related drug crimes are those that involve violating the laws on medication. It includes obtaining and using drugs illegally. Prescription fraud falls into this category of drug crimes.
This drug crime is different from others as it mainly involves prescription drugs. These medicines cannot be legally purchased or acquired without a legitimate prescription from a licensed and authorized doctor or medical professional. Such drugs are typically stronger than over-the-counter drugs and could potentially cause side effects.
Certain prescription drugs can be just as dangerous as illegal ones, hence the strict laws surrounding them. Some prescription drugs are narcotics or stimulants, making them highly addictive.
Criminal laws regulate the possession, distribution, and use of prescription drugs. So, it is considered illegal to purchase these drugs through prescription fraud.
What are the Penalties for Prescription Fraud?
There are serious penalties when charged with prescription fraud. Even if you didn’t get the medication, you could still be charged with severe consequences, including fines, jail time, and a permanent criminal record.
The penalties depend mainly on the circumstances of the case.
- Obtaining a prescription drug through fraud is a third-degree felony, even if you don’t get the drug. There is a maximum 5-year jail sentence and a fine of $5,000.
- Obtaining prescription drugs by fraud and being arrested by the police with the medication on your person can result in additional charges for illegal possession of the drugs. The additional charge is also punishable with a fine of up to $5,000 and a maximum jail time of 5 years.
Depending on the drug quantity in your possession, you can also be charged with prescription drug trafficking. The penalties for an additional drug trafficking charge are much more serious and can result in bigger fines and longer prison sentences.
Hire a Defense Attorney to Help Defend Your Case
In Florida, even a small and minor prescription drug fraud offense can make you face life-altering consequences. It is highly recommended that you hire a skilled attorney immediately.
If you have been accused of prescription fraud, contact our criminal defense attorneys at Hanlon Law to help you fight your case. Disclose all relevant information to your lawyer and be honest about what happened. Let us help you decide on a strategy for dealing with the charges against you.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation.
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Clearwater, FL 33755