Forging or Altering a Prescription – Health & Safety Code 11368
As you might guess, because narcotics and dispensing them are controlled by the government, anyone who forges a prescription really runs the risk of getting a serious offense against them. If that person happens to be a medical doctor or anybody in the medical field, they would also run the risk of losing their license and being brought up on administrative charges aside from also being charged with a crime.
Prosecutors and judges are very serious when it comes to punishing medical professionals who are dispensing drugs that should not be dispensed or even forging any type of documentation. But, usually, where we're seeing the forging is when someone, for example, steals a medical pad from an office and then uses that pad to write prescriptions for themselves or other people or even tries to get prescription medication and sell it.
Stealing and Forging Prescription Pads
Also, they will take other prescription medication pads that they have gotten where the doctor has issued them a prescription. They will forge that in order to try to get more controlled narcotics — either because they're addicted or because they're getting the drugs so they can sell them.
This is definitely a common thing that addicts do — they will forge prescriptions and attempt to get certain medications like Vicodin, which is highly addictive, Hydrocodone, OxyContin, and other types of controlled substances.
The authorities have tried to put measures in place to stop people from being able to forge medical prescriptions, but because of the nature of how they're written and the number of doctors there are, and the number of people trying to seek prescriptions. I still have not seen an effective way to prevent this.
This is one of the areas of the law that is really controlled by the government when it comes to doctors and prescriptions because of the potential dangers that exist out there. So, usually, where I'm seeing these false prescription cases or altering a prescription or writing a bad prescription pursuant to a related crime California Business and Professions Code 4324 is when somebody maybe become addicted to pain pills. They are now going to start tampering around with a valid prescription – adding things, taking things off, signing the doctor's name on something.
Maybe they get the doctor's pad for writing prescriptions or maybe they make it on the internet, and they make a prescription. They know what the doctor's signature looks like. They're already a doctor's patient, and they want more of a certain drug or medication, so they alter the prescription and get more.
I've seen them doing this multiple times and getting multiple prescriptions, either to support an addiction or maybe even to sell the drugs. There are all sorts of stuff going on here. I had a case recently where a client was alleged to not only be altering a prescription, but she was messing around with her work-related documents, which gave her time off work because of an injury she had that she was taking prescription medication.
So, she was signing the doctor's name – not only on the prescription but on the paperwork that allowed her to continue to stay out of work and get paid for it. The government, of course, is going to come in on that, and they're going to prosecute that person because that person is fraudulently obtaining money from the government.
Again, any time a prescription is being altered, they're going to come down and crack people for this type of behavior, especially if it actually involves a doctor or a nurse – somebody within the legal profession doing something illegal or tampering or altering or forging some sort of prescription because they don't want this type of activity because of the inherent danger that exists for patients and the public at large.
It also strikes at the integrity of our prescription medication system when people can falsely get medication when they're messing around with the paperwork and altering certain things, especially if they begin to sell the medication.
Now you pretty much have no checks and balances whatsoever as it relates to prescription medication dispensing, and this is obviously something the government cannot permit. Because not only does that lead to a danger for society, but it takes away profits that they could be making. If people are selling it at a black market, then the government is not going to be getting a piece of it, and that's one of the things that is very important to the government – that they get their money.
Doctor Shopping and Prescription Fraud
Also, hopping from doctor to doctor, either with a forged prescription or even with a legitimate prescription, is something that happens a lot because people are addicted to drugs, and the doctors will only give them so much, only give them so many refills, and because they're addicted, they need to get more so they will go from doctor to doctor – commonly known as doctor shopping prescription fraud.
There should be some sort of an effective system in a computer similar to the control of guns where they can control prescription medication, but I haven't seen it yet, and unfortunately, prescription fraud, and hopping from doctor to doctor are common crimes that are committed all of the time by individuals who are addicted to drugs by medical professionals who are associated with medical offices and even by physicians who need money and turn to illegal means to gain that money.
So, if you've got one of these prescription fraud cases pursuant to Health & Safety Code Section 11368, pick up the phone and call me. We'll sit down and talk about it. One good thing is, I think a lot of the possession Propositions and new laws the legislature have passed have been helpful also in the prescription fraud area in trying to help those people who are addicted to drugs instead of throwing them in jail or prison.