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Forging or Altering a Prescription in California

Under California Business and Professions Code Section 4324 it is illegal to forge or alter a prescription, or possess drugs acquired through a false prescription.

Forging or Altering a Prescription in California

The law punishes a person who was caught with a forged prescription or made an attempt to gain possession of prescription drugs. However, in case a person actually got medication as a result of forging a prescription, he will be also liable under Business & Professions Code Section 4324(b). A person can be convicted of both offenses i.e. forging the prescription and obtaining the medication through false prescription.

To Be Convicted of California Business and Professions Code 4324 Forging or Altering a Prescription Prosecution Must Prove

The prosecution must prove the following elements for convicting defendant of forging or altering a prescription:

  • Defendant falsely made, forged altered, or counterfeited a prescription, or
  • Defendant gave another person a forged or fictitious signature, or
  • Defendant used or attempted to use with a forged or fictitious signature or/and
  • Defendant committed that act with the intent to defraud.

Forging a Prescription

Prescription forgery is the use of a falsified prescription for purchasing drugs illegally. Forging or altering a prescription is making, publishing, uttering, passing or attempting to pass a prescription for drugs or possessing drugs acquired by a false prescription. Attempting to transfer another person a falsified prescription, even if you didn’t actually write it, is also a crime.

What is Considered to be a Prescription?

Prescription is an instruction to provide drugs, either by phone, through writing, or through electronic communications (i.e., facsimile).  Generally, a valid prescription must include the following information:

  • Patient’s name
  • Name and quantity of prescribed drug
  • Directions on how to use the drug
  • Date of issue
  • Contact information of doctor or prescriber
  • Doctor’s or prescriber’s signature

Term “drug” under California Business and Professions Code Section 4025 includes prescription drugs, veterinary drugs, and drugs that can be obtained without a prescription.

“Uttering” Under Business & Professions Code Section 4324

Defendant is guilty of falsely uttering a prescription in situations where the defendant:

  • Used or attempted to use a forged drug prescription,
  • Conveyed or indicated through his words or conduct that the prescription was genuine

Defenses to Forged Prescription B&P Code 4324

Some common defenses to charges related to forged prescriptions

  • Defendant had the authority to sign the prescription
  • Defendant did not forge or alter the prescription
  • Defendant did not use the forged prescription
  • Defendant was unaware that the prescription was forged

Penalties for violating California Business and Professions Code Section 4324

Under California law forging or altering a prescription is considered a wobbler offense and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the defendant’s criminal history and the case facts.

Penalties for Misdemeanor Business and Professions Code 4324 Conviction

Penalties for misdemeanor Business and Professions Code 4324 conviction are the following:

  • Up to one year in county jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • Misdemeanor probation

Penalties for Felony Business and Professions Code 4324 Conviction

Penalties for felony Business and Professions Code 4324 conviction are the following:

  • 16 months, two or three years in a county jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Felony probation

Additionally to the above-mentioned penalties, the defendant can also face:

  • Community service or labor
  • Permanent firearm restriction
  • Immigration consequences

Forging or Altering a Prescription in California Video

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