Prescription Drug Fraud

Occasionally, a doctor prescribes too many or the wrong kind of drugs to individuals. Pharmacies may also fill prescriptions with the wrong drugs. In either of these scenarios, the medical professional may be charged with a violation of California Health and Safety Code 11153. Both doctors and pharmacies may report incorrect information to insurance companies or government agencies such as Medi-Cal. Furthermore, individuals may commit prescription drug fraud in violation of California Health and Safety Code 11173. When these happen, the Los Angeles County prosecutor may pursue charges for prescription drug fraud. These charges can be both at the state level, as well as at the federal level. The Goldstein Law Group has a history of defending medical practitioners facing criminal prosecution for prescription drug fraud.

As stated above, it’s important to note that a prescription fraud offense can be committed by a patient or even a doctor.  If you are a patient who decides to engage in what is commonly known as “doctor shopping,” by committing fraud to obtain a  prescription, you could face criminal charges for violating HSC 11173. If a doctor engages in writing illegal prescriptions, they could face criminal charges for violating HSC 11153.  In other words, doctor shopping and prescription fraud occurs after a patient attempts to get a prescription for a controlled substance by fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. Medical professionals commit fraud if they write prescriptions for a controlled substance that are not for a legitimate medical purpose. Let’s take a look at the legal definitions below.

California Health & Safety Code 11173

Under California Health & Safety Code 11173, the legal definition of prescription fraud occurs if:

  • You obtain, or attempt to obtain, a prescription for a controlled substance; and
  • You acted by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or concealing a material fact.

It should be noted you can still be convicted of prescription fraud even if you never actually obtained the prescription. Under HSC 11173, all that is legally required is that you made the attempt to obtain a prescription for a controlled substance, which is any substance listed on the federal or California state classification schedules. These include common prescription drugs such as Vicodin, Xanax, Valium, Oxycodone, Adderall, Ritalin, among others.  Under the legal definition, fraud is any act of knowingly misrepresenting the truth, or it could also be concealing a material fact to obtain prescription medication.

California Health & Safety Code 11153

Under California Health & Safety Code 11173, the legal definition of prescription fraud by medical professionals is knowingly issuing a prescription that’s:

  • Not for a legitimate medical purpose, or
  • It’s outside the normal course of the medical professional’s practice.

This type of prescription fraud offense under HSC 11153 can be committed by any type of medical professional who has the legal authority to issue prescriptions for a controlled substance, including doctors, nurse practitioners, dentist, and psychiatrists. It’s important to note that any medical professional must act knowingly in order to commit prescription drug fraud.  Additionally, if they knew, or had a reasonable belief their patient was addicted to the medication they prescribed, they could face criminal charges for issuing a prescription for a controlled substance to a drug addict, under California Health & Safety Code 11156.

Legal Penalties

Under California Health & Safety Code 11173 and 11153, the legal penalties for prescription drug fraud are “wobblers,” meaning the Los Angeles County prosecutor can file the case as either a misdemeanor or felony crime. If convicted, you could be facing 1-3 years in jail and a fine up to $20,000.

Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney

An experienced prescription drug fraud attorney at the Goldstein Law Group understands how to defend these types of drug crime cases. A common and often effective approach to defend a drug offense is to aggressively pursue getting the charges dismissed or significantly reduced without a trial. Pre-filing representation strategies typically involve suppression or police handling of evidence. This type of defense strategy requires more than just knowing the law surrounding prescription drug fraud. It means your lawyer needs to have specific experience in drug related crime strategies. We will fight on your behalf to obtain the best possible outcome on your case. Contact us at 323-461-2000 to review your case and legal options.