CA Business & Professions 4324(b) BPC

BPC 4324(b) – Prescription Fraud

BPC 4324(b) - Prescription Fraud

Prescription Fraud – Table of Contents

Prescription Fraud in California

Given the growing crisis of the opioid epidemic spreading across the country, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors are zeroing in on prescription fraud for drugs. Prescription fraud can be an even bigger scourge than illegal drugs since prescription drugs can be legally possessed, purchased or sold. Being accused of prescription fraud in California is a serious matter with potentially life changing consequences. If you’ve been arrested for prescription fraud, believe you’re about to arrested or are currently going to court for this charge, then take a few minutes to read the information below.

Fraud on Prescription

Prescription fraud for drugs is what is called a “wobbler”, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony in California, depending on the circumstances, the severity of the matter, and your prior criminal record. Business and Professions Code 4324(a) BPC prescription fraud says,

“Every person who signs the name of another, or of a fictitious person, or falsely makes, alters, forges, utters, publishes, passes, or attempts to pass, as genuine, any prescription for any drugs is guilty.”

Changing the Prescription Medication

This section has to do with attempting to obtain prescription medication or being in possession of an altered or forged prescription. However, once someone has acquired prescription medication under fraudulent means then the other section kicks in, B&P 4324(b). It’s possible for someone to be arrested, charged, and convicted of both sections as misdemeanor or felony.

What The State Has to Prove for Prescription Fraud

For the prosecutor to show that one is guilty of prescription fraud, he/she must prove each of the following elements:

  1. The accused forged or altered the prescription, gave someone a forged or altered prescription or the attempted to use the fraudulent prescription drugs.
  2. OR the accused knowingly used a fraudulent prescription to obtain a narcotic drug.

Examples:

  • Mack beats his wife Sharon because she overcooks the eggs. Afterwards, he feels guilty and gives her some oxytocin pills for the pain. Sharon asks where he got the pills and Mack tells her he did so by taking a prescription from his doctor’s office and forging it. Mary takes a few pills for the pain and puts a few pills in her pocket. Later, Mary is searched by the police after being arrested for prostitution. The police find the pills and Mary confesses to the whole story. She can be liable under BPC 4324(b), Prescription Fraud for possession of the pills, even though she herself did not forge the prescription.
  • Sharon runs out of pills, but is not hooked on oxytocin. She goes to her doctor and falsely claims that Mack beat her up so she can trick the doctor into prescribing her more oxytocin pills for her addiction. Also she can be charged with “doctor shopping”, she cannot be charged under BPC 4324, Prescription Fraud.
  • Sharon and her mom Julie (who works in the same profession) go to the doctor for their annual exams. While the receptionist is gone, Sharon and Julie each take a prescription pad and hide upon their persons. For the balance of the year, they use oxytocin to tolerate there jobs. Both are liable under BPC 4324 for prescription fraud.

Penalties for CA BPC 4324(b) Prescription Fraud

Jail or prison time are always possibilities when you’ve been charged with a crime but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’re going away either. It depends on your criminal history (of lack thereof), circumstances of the case, and quality of legal representation. Nevertheless, it’s important to appear in court with the best representation you can acquire so that you’re well prepared and ready to fight for your rights. Remember, you are NOT powerless. Below are some of the potential consequences if convicted of misdemeanor prescription fraud:

  • Up to 1 year in county jail
  • 36 months summary probation
  • Court fines and fees
  • Community Service or Labor
  • Immigration complications

If you’re convicted of felony prescription fraud:

  • 16 months, 2, or 3 years of incarceration in state prison
  • Parole or supervised probation
  • Permanent Firearm Restriction
  • Immigration complications
  • Community Service

Potential Defenses for CA Business & Professions 4324(b)

Below are some possible defenses to prescription fraud but they’re not limited:

  • It wasn’t your signature on the prescription.
  • You weren’t the one that called the pharmacy.
  • You went to pick up prescriptions and didn’t realize some of the drugs weren’t ones your doctor had ordered.
  • The prescription(s) or drugs were found during an illegal search.

Related Offenses

The following are some offenses which are related to BPC 4324, Prescription Fraud:

HSC 11350- Possession of a controlled substance– the primary difference is that HSC 11350 deals with the possession of illegal drugs, while BPC 4324, Prescription Fraud deals with drugs that can be legally gained by prescription;

HSC 11351- Possession of a controlled substance for sale– if someone is using fraudulently prescriptions to obtain prescription drugs in order to sell them for profit, they can also be charged with possession for sale of the prescription drugs;

HSC 11352- Transportation of a controlled substance for sale– if someone uses fraudulently prescriptions to obtain prescription drugs, and then moves these drugs in a vehicle, plan, or train, they can be charged with this crime;

HS 11377(a)- Under the influence of a controlled substance- if someone fraudulently obtained prescriptions drugs and is high on them when the police arrived, they can be charged with this offense.

PC 459- Commercial Burglary– if you go into an establishment with the intent to steal prescription drugs, you can be charged with this offense.

PC 484(a)- Petty Theft– if you go into an establishment and then decide to steal prescription drugs with a value of $995 or under, you can be liable for petty theft.

PC 470- Forgery- if you forge a doctor’s or other professional’s name on a prescription pad to illegally obtain prescription drugs, you can be charged with forgery under PC 470.

HSC 11162.5- Counterfeit prescription pads or blanks- HSC 11162.5 makes it a crime to counterfeit a prescription pad (also known as blanks) or to knowingly possess counterfeit pads or prescriptions. This is different than BPC 4324, prescription fraud which makes it a crime to forge or alter a non-counterfeit prescription.

HSC 11368- this crime makes it a violation to simply use the prescription to obtain narcotics if you know it is fraudulent, even if you didn’t do anything yourself to alter or forge the prescription drugs.

HSC 11173- also known as “Doctor Shopping” Doctor shopping involves visiting multiple, doctors, clinics and/or medical professionals or pharmacies in order to obtain multiple prescriptions for controlled substances. It is a type of prescription fraud.

21 USC 843(a)(3)- makes it a federal offense to acquire possession of a controlled substance by fraud, misrepresentation, forgery, subterfuge, or deception.

We Want to Help

If you or a loved one is facing BPC 4324(b) “Prescription Fraud”, or any other fraud related charges, we invite you to contact us immediately for a free case review. Schedule an appointment to meet with us in person, or feel free to submit an evaluation online and we will get in contact with you ASAP. We can provide a free consultation in our office located in Century City, or by phone.

Our experienced and assiduous Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys will be sure to fight until the end to reduce or drop your charges completely.

Call Us for a FREE Case Review: 310-274-6529

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How to Win Your Case

We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

  1. Don’t ever talk to the police
  2. Do not discuss your case with anyone
  3. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
  4. Tell police you need to contact your attorney
  5. Never consent to any search by the police
  6. If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
  7. Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
  8. Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
  9. Information on your cell phone is evidence
  10. Early Intervention is the key

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