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Forging or Altering a Prescription in California

Forging or Altering Prescription 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

It is a crime in California to forge a prescription or make 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 to convict the defendant of forging or altering a prescription:

  • defendant falsely made, forged altered, or counterfeited a prescription;
  • gave another person a forged or fictitious signature;
  • used or attempted to use with a forged or fictitious signature; and/or
  • The 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

The Term “Drug” Under Business and Professions Code Section 4025

The term “drug” under California Business and Professions Code Section 4025 include:

  • prescription drugs;
  • veterinary drugs; and
  • drugs that can be obtained without a prescription.

“Uttering” Under Business & Professions Code Section 4324

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

  • Used or attempted to use a forged drug prescription; and/or
  • 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

  • The defendant had the authority to sign the prescription;
  • Defendant did not forge or alter the prescription;
  • Defendant did not use the forged prescription; and/or
  • The defendant was not aware that the prescription was forged

Penalties for violating California Business and Professions Code Section 4324

Business and Professions Code section 4324 forging or altering a prescription is considered a “wobbler offense”. As such, the offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the defendant’s criminal history, as well as other factors.

Penalties for a Misdemeanor Business and Professions Code 4324 Conviction

Penalties for misdemeanor Business and Professions Code 4324 conviction include:

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

Penalties for a Felony Business and Professions Code 4324 Conviction

Penalties for felony Business and Professions Code 4324 conviction include:

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

Furthermore, additional penalties a defendant can face include the following:

  • Community service or labor;
  • Permanent firearm restriction; and/or
  • Immigration consequences;

Forging or Altering a Prescription in California Video

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