California Health and Safety Code Section 11368 HSC: Forging Prescription For A Narcotic
In recent years, prescription drug abuse and addiction has become a severe problem that affects increasing numbers of people. Because these drugs can be obtained legally with a valid prescription, some people may resort to forging medical prescriptions in order to get a fix. However, forging prescriptions is a serious criminal offense under California Health & Safety Code Section 11368 HSC that can lead to a felony conviction.
In order to prove the defendant committed the offense of forging a prescription, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following elements:
- The defendant forged or altered a prescription or the defendant gave someone a prescription with a forged or fictitious signature or an altered prescription
- the prescription was for a narcotic drug
- AND the defendant knew that the signature on the prescription was forged or fictitious or that the prescription was altered.
This statute can also be violated when the defendant is accused of possessing prescription drugs obtained via a false or forged prescription. To prove a defendant is guilty of this offense, a prosecutor must prove the following:
- The defendant obtained or possessed a narcotic drug
- The defendant knew of its presence
- The defendant knew of the substance’s nature or character as a narcotic drug
- The narcotic drug was in a usable amount
- The narcotic drug was obtained by using a forged, fictitious or altered prescription
- AND the defendant knew that the narcotic was obtained using a forged, fictitious or altered prescription.
Other similar or related offenses include:
- Possession of a Controlled Substance – California Health & Safety Code Section 11350 HSC
- Doctor Shopping / Prescription Fraud – California Health & Safety Code Section 11173 HSC
- Prescribing a Controlled Substance without a Legitimate Purpose – California Health & Safety Code Section 11153 HSC
While at a doctor’s appointment, a man complains of severe pain and asks the doctor to prescribe Vicodin. The doctor refuses because he feels the man is an addict simply trying to obtain pain medications. While the doctor is not looking, the man steals the top page of the doctor’s prescription pad. The man later uses this page to write a prescription for Vicodin and sign it with the doctor’s name. The man could be prosecuted for forging a prescription for a narcotic in violation of California Health & Safety Code Section 11368 HSC.
In another example, a man suffers from back pain, however his doctor is afraid that the man has become addicted to pain medications. When the man comes in for a consultation, the doctor only agrees to write a prescription for a significantly lower amount of prescription pain pills than what he usually is provided. The man is upset, so he changes the number on the doctor’s prescription so he can receive a greater amount of the medication. This man could also be charged with altering a prescription in violation of the law.4. Defenses to Forging Prescription for Narcotics
The defendant can only be convicted of this offense if he or she knowingly forged or altered a prescription or knowingly obtained a narcotic with a forged or altered prescription. If the defendant did not know about the forgery or alteration, he or she would not be criminally liable for this offense.5. Penalties
Forging prescriptions for narcotics is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the defendant’s criminal history and the factual circumstances of the offense. If convicted of a felony, the defendant can be sentenced to up to three years in prison. If convicted of a misdemeanor, the defendant can be sentenced to a minimum of six months and a maximum of one year in jail.6. Criminal Defense for Forging Prescriptions for Narcotics Cases
Forging prescriptions for narcotics is a criminal offense that may carry significant penalties for those convicted. If you have been charged with this offense, it is critical that you speak with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney right away. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who is highly respected throughout the court system as a dedicated advocate who fights hard on behalf of his clients charged with drug offenses.
For more information about forging prescriptions for narcotics, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer 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.