In Utah, criminal charges for prescription fraud, prescription forgery, or obtaining a prescription under false pretenses can end in a felony conviction with potential prison or jail time, thousands of dollars in fines, and a range of probation conditions. Stephen Howard is a criminal defense attorney with broad experience in defending prescription fraud and other drug charges. If you are facing prescription drug charges in Ogden or anywhere in Utah, contact us today to see how our criminal defense team can help you.
Prescription Fraud – Statutory Elements
Common scenarios that lead to a charge of prescription fraud or prescription forgery in Ogden include: changing the number of pills or the dosage on an otherwise valid prescription; using photocopies of prescriptions that have been changed and filled numerous times; placing phone calls to a pharmacy from a person pretending to work in a doctor’s office; and forging signatures on pads of stolen prescription forms.
A related charge of obtaining a prescription under false pretenses can be filed in circumstances where a persona has obtained an otherwise legitimate prescription from a doctor by giving false information to the doctor (such as falsely claiming to be experiencing pain) or failing to disclose relevant information (such as the fact that the patient has already obtained a similar prescription from another doctor).
Consequences of a Prescription Fraud Conviction
The level of a prescription fraud charge can depend on the prior criminal history of the defendant. Generally, a first offense will be charged at the class A misdemeanor level. But a third or subsequent charge can be filed at the felony level.
Penalties for a class A misdemeanor prescription fraud conviction can include up to a year in jail and/or $4,750 in fines (plus surcharge). At the third-degree felony level, charge for prescription fraud is punishable by up to five years in prison and/or $9,500 in fines (plus surcharge). Probation conditions can include jail time, substance abuse counseling, drug testing, community service, or other requirements determined by the court to be appropriate.
Prescription Fraud and Addiction in Ogden Criminal Cases
Many people who are caught committing prescription fraud are also struggling with a substance abuse issue. If that is the case, then dealing with the legal case is only part of the solution. Treatment or counseling to help overcome addiction or abuse issues can be a benefit both personally for the long term and in resolving the legal case.
If a defendant chooses to take a case to trial, participation in treatment or counseling cannot normally be used against the defendant at trial. But proof of participation in treatment can provide an advantage during the plea negotiation process or with the court at a sentencing hearing.
While prosecutors and judges in Ogden must consider a variety of factors in determining how aggressively to pursue a case or in imposing an appropriate sentence, treatment and rehabilitation are important issues that can positively influence the ultimate outcome of the case.