California Health and Safety Code Section 11154(a) HSC: Prescribing a Controlled Substance Without Treatment

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimecontrolled substance prescription

Prescription drug addiction is a serious problem that can destroy lives and tear apart families. Unlike street drugs, which are obtained through drug dealers, prescription drugs can often be obtained by simply receiving a prescription from a licensed doctor. However, under California Health & Safety Code Section 11154(a) HSC, prescribing a controlled substance to someone not undergoing treatment with that practitioner is a serious criminal offense that can result in a felony conviction.

In order to convict a doctor or other authorized practitioner under California Health & Safety Code Section 11154(a) HSC a prosecutor must be able to prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant was a practitioner.

  2. The defendant knowingly prescribed, administered, dispensed or furnished a controlled substance to or for a person or animal.

  3. That person or animal was not under his or her treatment for a pathology or condition other than addiction to a controlled substance.
2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Prescribing a Controlled Substance without a Legitimate Purpose - California Health & Safety Code Section 11153 HSC
  2. Doctor Shopping / Prescription Fraud - California Health & Safety Code Section 11173 HSC
3. Examples

A doctor is fully licensed and is authorized to write prescription for certain controlled substances. The doctor does not believe in California’s drug laws and believes that anyone should be able to have access to whatever substance they desire. The doctor willingly writes prescriptions for controlled substances to people who contact him via his website, despite the fact that he has never treated the person in the past. This doctor could be prosecuted under California Health & Safety Code Section 11154(a) HSC because he wrote prescriptions without treating the patient.

In another example, a man goes to a new doctor complaining about serious back pain. The doctor examines the man and has serious concerns that the man is faking his pain and only wants painkillers. However, the doctor agrees to prescribe the pills anyways because he cannot be sure that the man is lying. This doctor would not be guilty of prescribing a controlled substance without treatment because he legitimately thought he was treating a patient he examined.

In another example, a doctor is hired by a methadone clinic that treats those addicted to heroin and other opiate drugs. The doctor is not able to meet with every client, but widely writes prescriptions for methadone, which is a controlled substance. The doctor would not be criminally liable under California Health & Safety Code Section 11154(a) HSC because the statute specifically exempts practitioners prescribing drugs to treat those addicted to controlled substances.

4. Defenses to Prescribing a Controlled Substance without Treatment

As described above, a doctor or other practitioner who prescribes medications intended to cure addiction to controlled substances to those not under his or her treatment are specifically exempted from prosecution for this offense.

5. Penalties

Prescribing a controlled substance without treatment is what is considered a "wobbler" offense. This means that a prosecutor can file either felony or misdemeanor charges, depending on a variety of factors such as the defendant’s criminal history and the specific circumstances of the offense. If convicted of this offense, the defendant can be sentenced to up to three years in prison. If convicted as a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty is a year in jail.

In addition, practitioners convicted of this offense may risk losing their license to practice medicine in addition to other collateral consequences.

6. Criminal Defense for Prescribing a Controlled Substance without Treatment Cases

If you are a medical practitioner who is under investigation for or has been charged with prescribing a controlled substance without treatment, it is crucial that you speak with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney who understands how devastating a conviction for this offense can be for those in the medical profession. Mr. Kraut is known throughout the court system as a tough litigator who works tirelessly to ensure his clients receive the best defense possible.

For more information about prescribing a controlled substance without treatment, 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
He gave me the peace of mind that my DUI case was going to be resolved. He fought for what it was needed and helped me by answering all my questions. Mike is not an average attorney. He’s a very experienced, honest and straightforward person that is there for you!
★★★★★
I hired Attorney Mike Kraut and I'm am so happy and grateful that I did! I was arrested for a DUI because my BAC level was over the .08 limit. I ended up getting a wet and reckless instead of a DUI. I still have to do some classes and I'm on probation, but I do not have a DUI on my record. If you have a DUI hire Attorney Kraut, he definitely knows his stuff!
★★★★★
Avvo User
There aren't enough positive words to write about Mike, but let me be clear that this is the only lawyer worth hiring in Los Angeles. Mike is professional, caring, and an absolute champion at winning in court.
★★★★★
Kyle, Avvo User
Mike Kraut is not a typical lawyer. He is a straightforward person with a true heart and a sympathetic ear. He is also smart and connected and he cares about the people who seek out his help. He got my son out of a jam. He did it quickly and painlessly. I recommend Mike Kraut to anyone that needs his services.
Thank you Mike for helping my son.
★★★★★
Mark, Avvo User
Michael Kraut is a rock star lawyer. I was really happy and satisfied with the results I received from Michael and his team. A few months back I was being accused of a serious felony. Mike gave me sound legal advice and worked diligently to clear my name. Mike was great at always keeping me updated and returning calls. Great, great lawyer I cant say enough about this man!
★★★★★
Eric, Google User
How can I express how relieved and pleased I am with Michael's professional abilities to have my Felony brought down to a misdameanor to a possible dismissal with deferment. With his care my life has been turned around and cannot say how helpful he's been not only in my case but life. He, himself has changed how I view criminal lawyers. Thank you so much Michael!
★★★★★
Owen, Google User