Anyone who is addicted to prescription drugs knows they have a serious problem that often has life-altering consequences.
It's no secret many addicts will do almost anything to obtain prescription drugs – including creating a counterfeit prescription pad in an attempt to fool a pharmacist into filling a prescription for a controlled substance.
California Health & Safety Code Section 11162.5 describes the crime of counterfeiting a prescription blank and could lead to felony charges.
It's not just a crime to counterfeit a prescription blank, but also to knowingly have possession of them.
An example of HS 11162.5 includes a situation where someone is highly addicted to Oxycontin and is seeking to find a way to obtain more to support their habit.
They come up with plan to use their home computer to duplicate his doctor's prescription pad and runs off several copies.
He takes a copy and writes a false prescriptions and attempts to have it filled at a local pharmacy. In this scenario, they could face criminal charges for producing a counterfeit prescription blanks under Health & Safety Code 11162.5.
An example includes a situation where someone has a doctor's visit for a routine physical. When the doctor is distracted, they notice there is a prescription pad sitting on the desk and rips off a couple of pages. Later on, they write themselves a prescription and attempt to pass it off as a valid at a pharmacy.
See CALCRIM 2320 - Forged Prescription for Narcotic.
Health & Safety Code Section 11162.5 is a “wobbler” crime – meaning it can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony case.
To give readers a better understanding of counterfeiting a prescription blank charges in violation of Health & Safety Code Section 11162.5, our California criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.
Definition of Counterfeiting a Prescription Blank
California Health & Safety Code Section 11162.5 defines counterfeiting a prescription blank as:
- Anyone who counterfeits a prescription blank purporting to be an official prescription blank, or knowingly possesses over three – or three and under - counterfeited prescription blanks.
As you can see in the definition, it's crime not only to counterfeit a prescription form, but also to knowingly possess a counterfeited form. The term “counterfeit” in the context of HS 11162.5 simply means making an exact imitation of the prescription blank with the specific intent to defraud or deceive.
It should be noted “prescription blanks” in the definition have other similar names, such as ‘pads” or “forms,” but all mean what doctor's use to authorize prescriptions for controlled substances.
In order for a prosecutor to obtain a conviction for violating California Health & Safety Code 11162.5, counterfeiting a prescription blank, they must be able to prove all the factors, known as “elements of the crime,” including:
- You counterfeited a prescription blank that purported to be an official prescription blank prepared and issued by a licensed doctor, or
- You knowingly had possession of counterfeit prescription blanks.
It should also be noted there are different penalties based on the amount of counterfeiting a prescription blank you knowingly possessed.
See related: Unauthorized Practice of Medicine
Penalties for HS 11162.5 Counterfeiting a Prescription Blank
As stated, Health and Safety Code 11162.5 counterfeiting a prescription pad and knowingly possessing one are a “wobbler” offense – where the prosecutor has the discretion to file misdemeanor or felony charges. If convicted of a misdemeanor, you are facing up to one year in the county jail.
If convicted of a felony for producing or possessing four or more counterfeit prescription blanks, you are facing up to three years in a California state prison. If you possessed or produced three or less counterfeit prescription pads, you will be facing the misdemeanor penalties described above.
Related California Offenses for HS 11162.5
- Penal Code 470 - Forgery,
- Health & Safety Code 11173 – Doctor shopping and prescription fraud,
- Health & Safety Code 11368 – Forging or altering a prescription,
- Health & Safety Code 11153 – Prescribing controlled substance without medical purpose,
- Health & Safety Code 11154(a) – Prescribing controlled substance without treatment,
- Health & Safety Code 11156 – Prescribing controlled substance to an addict.
It should be noted that these related crimes could be charged in addition to Health and Safety Code 11162.5 and most of the offenses are also a "wobbler" crime,
Fighting Health and Safety Code 11162.5 Charges
If you have been accused of Health and Safety Code 11162.5 counterfeiting a prescription blank, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers can use a variety of strategies to obtain the best possible outcome on the case.
We need to closely review all the details in order to determine an appropriate plan to fight the charges. The most common defenses include:
Lack of knowledge
Recall the elements of the crime above where it must be proven that you knowingly had possession of a counterfeited prescription blank. In other words, it has to be shown you has a counterfeited prescription pad on your person or within your control.
We might be able to make an argument you didn't know you were in possession of a counterfeited prescription pad. Perhaps it was found in common area of your home where other people also live and you had no knowledge of its presence.
In some cases, people are arrested as the result of an undercover “sting” operation by police where they pretend to want to buy counterfeit prescription pads. We might be able to argue police lured you into committing the crime, which is known as “entrapment”. In other words, we might be able to show undercover police acted improperly by using harassment, fraud, pressure, or threats to persuade you to commit a crime you would have otherwise not committed.
If you are facing charges of counterfeiting a prescription blank in violation of California Health and Safety Code 11162.5, you should discuss the case with our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys to review options.
We have a track record of success in all type of drug related arrest and will work to get your charges reduced to a lesser crime or dismissed. Early intervention into your case by our law firm can increase your chances at a favorable outcome. We might be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to avoid the filing of criminal charges through prefiling intervention.
Eisner Gorin LLP is a criminal defense law firm serving clients throughout Southern California from our office located at 1875 Century Park E #705, Los Angeles, CA 90067. We are also located at 14401 Sylvan St #112 Van Nuys, CA 91401. Contact our office for a consultation at (310) 328-3776.