It is unlawful for anyone to obtain a controlled substance by lying, misrepresenting through forgery, fraud, and/or deception. Pursuant to the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, doing so is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. This crime differs from the Possession of a Controlled Substance. Prescription fraud in Miami is all about the action taken, coupled with the intent, to secure the substance.
Upon hearing the words "drug charges", most people may immediately think of illegal substances such as cocaine. The substantial rise in prescription drug misuse in the nation likely won't be the first thing that comes to mind. Many people falsely think that these medications are "legal" when a doctor administers them, but that is not always the case.
We are in the middle of an opioid crisis in which, through overdosing on prescribed drugs such as painkillers, the results have often been fatal. As a consequence, Florida also has an online directory of tracked prescription medications, where physicians record the prescriptions within 15 days following the prescription being issued. Some of the drugs that are now monitored include, but are not limited to morphine, Vicodin, Percocet, and oxycontin, to name a few.
Potentially as a means of getting a higher dosage or greater quantities than prescribed, people resort to forging a prescription or changing a legitimate one from a licensed practitioner. Others may procure blank prescription pads and use them as another means of creating a forged prescription. Another common practice is calling a pharmacy for prescriptions under the false identity of being a licensed physician. Visiting a variety of doctors is usually considered "doctor shopping," and is often unlawful, for the purpose of receiving multiple prescriptions for a single medication.
Attempting to obtain a controlled drug via deceptive means is a third-degree prescription fraud felony crime that may carry possible jail time. Drug enforcement agents are searching into the following kinds of fraud methods to procure drugs:
- A counterfeit or altered prescription
- Theft of prescription pads
- Attempting to call a pharmacy with a fraudulent prescription
- The aforementioned "doctor shopping"
The components of possessing a controlled drug by deception need facts beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors must show that the suspect has obtained or sought to obtain a certain controlled drug.
Proof is also required that the defendant obtained or sought to procure the drug fraudulently or via subterfuge, deceit, forgery, or misrepresentation. Furthermore, it must be shown that the defendant was aware of the illegal existence of the controlled drug.
Under Florida law, if someone knowingly attempts to pass a false prescription (one that was not prepared for them by a registered medical practitioner, or a legal one that has been altered) for any drug, that's a felony, even if they didn't do the modification themselves. So if someone else writes or changed a genuine prescription, hands it to the person, and then, knowing it's a false or illegal prescription, attempts to fill it, it may be deemed a misdemeanor.
Especially in South Florida, there has been a rash of these types of offenses committed, particularly after law enforcement's crackdown on alleged "Pill Mills." Our firm has assisted many charged with Prescription Fraud and related drug offenses. If you or a loved one is charged with prescription fraud, call the Law Offices of Mark Eiglarsh at your earliest convenience to learn about your rights and the defenses that may be available to you. A skilled Miami criminal defense attorney from the Law Offices of Mark Eiglarsh can provide you with the representation that you need to effectively and zealously defend you.
The general information provided above about prescription fraud in Fort Lauderdale is meant for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for speaking directly with an attorney about the facts and circumstances of your case. Please call 954.500.0003 in Broward or 305.674.0003 in Miami to schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of Mark Eiglarsh.