California Business & Professions Code Section 4324(a) BPC: Prescription Forgery

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimeprescription forgery

Prescription drugs pose a unique problem for law enforcement agencies, because unlike illegal street drugs, these substances can be lawfully purchased and possessed by those with lawful prescriptions. There may be a temptation by some to forge prescriptions in order to obtain drugs from a pharmacist. Under California Business and Professions Code Section 4324(a) BPC, prescription forgery is a serious criminal offense that can result in felony charges.

In order to prove a charge of prescription forgery under California Business and Professions Code Section 4324(a), a prosecutor must be able to establish the following:

  • The defendant signed the name of another, or of a fictitious person, or falsely made, altered, forged, uttered, published, passed, or attempted to pass, as genuine, any prescription for any drug.
2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. False Representation to Obtain a Drug – California Business and Professions Code Section 4323 BPC
  2. Forgery – California Penal Code Section 470 PC
  3. Counterfeit Prescription Blank – California Health and Safety Code Section 11162.5 HSC
  4. Doctor Shopping / Prescription Fraud – California Health and Safety Code Section 11173 HSC
3. Examples

A man has been recently had back surgery and his doctor had prescribed him painkillers while he was in recovery. However, after several months the doctor is concerned that the man is becoming addicted to the painkillers so he decides to only authorize a lower dose and smaller amount of the prescription in order to wean him off of the painkillers. The man is not happy about this, so he takes the written prescription and changes the dose amount and number of refills authorized in order to obtain more of the drug. This man could be charged with prescription forgery in violation of California Business and Professions Code Section 4324(a) BPC.

In another example, a man is trying to get a prescription for Valium and cannot find a doctor who is willing to authorize this drug for him. The man uses his computer to create a fake doctor’s prescription pad using a made up name that looks very authentic. He prints the pad and writes himself a prescription for Valium. This man could also be prosecuted for prescription forgery in this scenario.

4. Defenses to Prescription Forgery

There may be several defenses that may be applicable to a defendant who has been charged with prescription forgery. If the defendant did not actually sign the fraudulent prescription, he or she may be able to assert a valid defense if charged criminally. In addition if a call to a pharmacist was not made from the defendant’s phone, or was made from his or her phone but placed by another person, the defendant could argue that he or she was not responsible for the prescription forgery and thus not guilty of this offense.

5. Penalties

Prescription forgery is what is commonly known as a “wobbler.” Under the law, a prosecutor can charge prescription forgery as either a felony or a misdemeanor. When deciding what level of charges to file, prosecutors will look to factors such as the defendant’s criminal record, whether the defendant committed multiple acts of forgery and other unique circumstances of the case. If the defendant is convicted of felony-level prescription forgery, he or she can be sentenced to up to three years in prison. Misdemeanor-level prescription forgery is punishable by up to a year in jail and usually includes conditions of probation such as completing a drug treatment program and submitting to random drug tests.

6. Criminal Defense for Prescription Forgery Cases

If you have been arrested for or are facing charges of prescription forgery, it is crucial that you consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who knows how to effectively fight allegations of prescription forgery. Mr. Kraut is highly respected by judges, prosecutors and those in law enforcement and it is often the case that his early involvement in a matter before charges have been filed can potentially result in criminal charges being significantly reduced or even dismissed entirely.

For more information about prescription forgery, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

Share |
Client Reviews
★★★★★
Michael Kraut is outstanding! He genuinely cared about my case and instructed my mom and I throughout the entire process. He was very clear on what he needed in order to receive the best results. He kept us updated until the end. I thank him so much for getting my charges rejected. I highly recommend him to anyone with legal needs! Shaquan Thomas
★★★★★
I contacted Michael with concern for my personal and business reputation. He was very reassuring and confident the entire time. After about 3 weeks it was determined that no charges were being filed by any agency and I was in the clear of any investigation. One thing that is amazing is just how FAST Michael is at replying to phone calls, texts, and even emails! We are talking under 30 minutes in most cases. That is unheard of for most attorneys! Michael is incredible and not your typical run of the mill attorney. For best results hire him if you feel like you might be under investigation or could face charges. Even if you know you are innocent it is best to take care of the smoke before it becomes a fire. Brad
★★★★★
Michael Kraut is-hands down-the best criminal defense attorney and I can't begin to thank him for all that he did for me and my family. I reached out to him in the middle of the night and less than a couple hours later, he had gotten back to me and scheduled a meeting. He's a no-nonsense attorney who knows how to get the job done! From the second we retained him, I had peace of mind in knowing that we were in the best hands possible. If Michael Kraut couldn't get it done, I knew that it couldn't be done at all. You can't put a price tag on your freedom. He was worth every single penny. Lida
★★★★★
Michael Kraut is an outstanding attorney. He was extremely professional, and straightforward, yet sensitive with my case. I am confident I made the right choice by hiring Michael. I highly recommend him to anyone seeking a truly experienced lawyer. Daniel Lepervanche
★★★★★
Michael Kraut - I cannot thank you enough for all that you did for ​my son. When I came to you I read that you used to be a district attorney but I never knew how much that meant until I watch you in court. I knew it took 3 months but the final day when I heard the judge say that all charges were dismissed it was all worth it! I will always be grateful for all that you did for us. A.N.