Two of the largest employers in St. Petersburg are in health care: Johns Hopkins All Children Hospital and St. Anthony's Hospital. In 2016, 23 people were arrested in a prescription drug ring in the city. Many drug users at some point decide that prescription medications can fulfill similar needs to street drugs. Sometimes people who secured prescription drugs for a legitimate purpose become addicted to those drugs and eventually use illegal means to try to obtain the same drugs. Prescription drugs that are often subjects of charges include Dilaudid, Vicodin, Lorcet, Morphine, Percocet, Valium, Xanax, and Oxycontin. It is critical to retain a skillful St. Petersburg prescription fraud lawyer to mount a strong defense right away.Understanding Prescription Fraud Cases
You can be charged with prescription fraud under various Florida laws. Under Florida Statutes section 831.30, it is a second-degree misdemeanor to falsely make, forge, or alter any prescription for medication. You can also be charged under this section if you knowingly trigger a prescription to be falsely made, forged, altered, or counterfeited, if you pass, publish, or utter a false prescription, or if you put forth a false or forged prescription as a true prescription. If you are convicted, you may face up to 60 days in prison and a maximum of $500 in fines.
Another prescription fraud offense is found under Florida Statutes section 893.13(6)(a), which makes it a third-degree felony for you to be in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance except when it was legally obtained under a valid prescription or practitioner's order or from the practitioner while acting as a professional. A third-degree felony conviction can result in up to five years’ imprisonment and up to $5,000 in fines. However, this offense can turn into a first-degree felony if you were caught possessing more than a certain amount. A first-degree felony conviction can result in up to 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. The gravity of these charges makes it critical to consult a prescription fraud attorney in the St. Petersburg area as soon as possible.
Florida Statutes section 893.13 (7)(a)1-6 prohibits a number of prescription fraud activities as first-degree misdemeanors. These activities include distributing controlled substances, refusing to keep records as required, refusing entry onto premises for inspection, or keeping a structure or place that is used by people using controlled substances for illegally keeping or selling controlled substances. For a first-degree misdemeanor conviction, you can face a maximum of $1,000 in fines and one year in prison.
Under Florida Statutes section 893.13 (7)(a)7-13, it is a third-degree felony to conduct a number of activities related to prescription drugs, including possessing a prescription form (unless the practitioner whose name is printed there has signed it), withholding certain types of information from a practitioner from whom you are trying to get a prescription for a controlled substance, acquiring or trying to acquire possession of a controlled substance by fraud, placing a false or forged label on a package that holds a controlled substance, trying to get a controlled substance that is not medically necessary for you, or trying to get a controlled substance from a practitioner by using concealment, misrepresentation, forgery, fraud, deception, or subterfuge. If you are convicted of any of these offenses, you may face up to five years in prison and a maximum of $5,000 in fines. However, a prescription fraud lawyer can advocate for St. Petersburg residents in hopes of avoiding or reducing these penalties.
The reasons why people get caught committing prescription fraud vary, but often pharmacists and doctors recognize that a consumer's conduct is suspicious or that they come back too quickly. Each situation is different, and certain offenses have unique defenses. In some cases, it is possible to argue that the prescription was filled in good faith, that separate medical conditions were being addressed through the prescriptions, that the defendant was unaware that the prescription was forged, or that the defendant properly disclosed prior prescriptions on the intake form.Retain a St. Petersburg Prescription Fraud Attorney
If you are charged with prescription fraud or are under investigation for this type of offense, you should consult our experienced criminal defense firm. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation since 1994. We are committed to protecting the rights of the accused. You can call Hanlon Law at 727.289.0222 or submit our online form.