California Business & Professions Code Section 4324(b) BPC: Possession of Drugs Secured by Forged Prescription

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimeforged prescription

Prescription drug abuse is a growing concern among law enforcement agencies. Unlike illegal street drugs which can never be lawfully sold or possessed, a person can legally purchase or possess prescription drugs if authorized by a licensed physician. Prescription forgery is against the law under California Business and Professions Code Section 4324(a) BPC. However, it is also illegal to possess drugs secured by a forged prescription pursuant to California Business and Professions Code Section 4324(b) BPC, and those charged can face a potential felony conviction.

To prove that a defendant is guilty of possessing drugs secured by a forged prescription, a prosecutor would have to establish the following:

  1. The defendant had in his or her possession any drugs secured by a forged prescription.
2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Prescription Forgery – California Business and Professions Code Section 4324(a) BPC
  2. Counterfeit Prescription Blank – California Health and Safety Code Section 11162.5 HSC
  3. Possession of Controlled Substance – California Health and Safety Code Section 11350 HSC
  4. Forging Prescription for a Narcotic – California Health and Safety Code Section 11368 HSC
3. Examples

A man is at his friend’s house when he complains about having a headache. His friend asks if he wants to take some prescription strength painkillers. The man asks how his friend obtained the drugs and his friend explains that he forged a prescription and then had it filled at a local pharmacy. The man’s friend sends him home with several pills and the man is stopped by police on a routine traffic stop. The police see the pills on the front seat of the man’s car and the man explains how his friend supplied the pills to him. This man could be charged with possession of drugs secured by a forged prescription in violation of California Business and Professions Code Section 4324(b) BPC.

In another example, a man visits a doctor in the hopes of getting a prescription for painkillers. The man makes up symptoms of back pain and other ailments in order to get the prescription. The doctor authorizes a prescription based on the man’s false representations, which he subsequently has filled at a pharmacy. This man would not be criminally liable under California Business and Professions Code Section 4324(b) BPC because the prescription was legitimate, even though it was obtained as the result of fraud and deceit. However, this man could be charged with prescription fraud / doctor shopping under California Health and Safety Code Section 11173 HSC.

4. Defenses to Possession of Drugs Secured by a Forged Prescription

If the drugs were discovered as the result of a warrantless police search that was not supported by reasonable or probable cause, the defendant may be able to challenge the constitutionality of the search by filing a motion to suppress the evidence pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1538.5 PC. If the motion is granted, the evidence would be suppressed and the case would likely be unable to proceed.

5. Penalties

Possession of drugs secured by a forged prescription is what is considered a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Unlike many other drug possession cases that have been reduced to misdemeanors under Proposition 47, California Business and Professions Code Section 4324(b) BPC was unaffected by the new law and can still be potentially filed as a felony. Those convicted of this offense as a felony can be sentenced to up to three years in prison. If convicted of this crime as a misdemeanor, the defendant can be sentenced to up to a year in jail.

6. Criminal Defense for Possession of Drugs Secured by a Forged Prescription Cases

If you have been charged with possession of drugs secured by a forged prescription, it is imperative that you speak 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 understands how best to defend those charged with drug offenses. Mr. Kraut is highly respected throughout the court system as a tough litigator who possesses a detailed knowledge of the criminal law.

For more information about possession of drugs secured by a forged prescription, 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.

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