Doctors, dentists, veterinarians, and other professionals authorized to write prescriptions are under heavy regulation and restriction regarding when and how they can prescribe drugs. This prevents dangerous substances from getting into the hands of recreational drug users or others who might misuse or illegally distribute these drugs. Because the State of New Jersey so strictly controls drugs and their prescription, there are a series of crimes you could be charged with if you fraudulently write or fill a prescription, or if you forge prescriptions.
If you were charged with a prescription drug crime involving forgery or fraud, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our Atlantic City prescription fraud and forgery lawyers offer free legal consultations to help you understand the charges and potential penalties you face. To schedule your free consultation, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.
Charges Related to Fraudulent Use of a Prescription Blank in Atlantic County
If you are not a licensed doctor or other professional permitted to own a prescription pad and write prescriptions, it is illegal for you to do so. Access to a prescription pad is illegal whether it is used to write prescriptions for yourself or someone else. There are multiple crimes that you could be charged with if you use a fraudulent prescription to obtain prescription drugs illegally.
Prescription Drug Crimes
First, you could be charged with prescription drug possession. Illegal possession of prescription drugs could be charged under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5. This crime applies to the illegal distribution of prescription drugs or the use of prescription drugs for recreational purposes. You may also be charged with simple drug possession or drug possession with the intent to distribute under § 2C:35-10 or § 2C:35-5, respectively.
Theft of a Prescription Blank and Receiving Stolen Property
Since prescription blanks are heavily controlled and only licensed personnel can obtain one, you cannot be in possession of a prescription blank unless you found it, it was given to you by mistake, it was illegally given to you, or you stole it. If it was given to you illegally, you may be able to avoid serious criminal charges and may face only regulatory penalties for possessing one. However, if you acquired a prescription pad illegally, you could be charged with any of the following:
- Theft by deception if you posed as a physician to acquire the pad
- Theft of movable property if you stole the pad from a doctor’s office
- Receiving stolen property if you are found in possession of a stolen prescription blank
Possession of a stolen prescription blank or theft of a prescription blank is a third degree crime.
Theft of Prescription Drugs
Presenting a fraudulent prescription blank at the pharmacy to fill a prescription for yourself can constitute theft by deception. If you wrote a prescription for someone else, you could still be an accessory to their crime and could be charged alongside them and face charges for conspiracy to commit theft by deception. Theft of one kilogram or less of controlled substances (potentially including some prescription drugs) can be charged as a third degree crime. Theft of a higher quantity of drugs is a second degree crime.
Different Types of Prescription Forgery Crimes in Atlantic City
If instead of using a real prescription blank, you forge a prescription blank, you could also face charges for the forgery and use of a forged document. The following charges commonly apply to these instances of forgery:
Forging a Doctor’s Signature
Whether you are using a real or fake prescription blank, you usually need to sign the blank to make it a valid prescription. If you are using a real doctor’s name and identification number, you can be arrested and charged with forgery for signing their signature. Even if the signature you wrote is a scribble or a fake signature, the fact that you are passing it off as the doctor’s signature makes it a forgery under N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-1. If the doctor is a fake person, it can still be a forged signature under the definition of the crime. Forging a signature on a prescription blank can be charged as a third degree crime.
Forging a Prescription Blank
New Jersey Prescription Blanks are made of special paper that makes them difficult to reproduce or create a forged copy. However, clever forgers may still attempt to create a falsified copy of a prescription blank or alter the writing on a valid prescription blank in an attempt to get different drugs from the pharmacy. If you falsify, forge, or alter a prescription blank, you could be charged with a third degree crime under N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-1.
Theft by Deception
Using a forged prescription blank to acquire drugs or help someone else acquire drugs can constitute a theft by deception offense, as described above. Working with someone else can also mean facing conspiracy charges.
Atlantic City Prescription Fraud and Forgery Defense Attorneys Offering Free Legal Consultations
If you were arrested for fraud or forgery involving dealing prescription drugs or working with prescription blanks, you could face serious criminal penalties including the potential of years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and court costs. Work with an experienced Atlantic City prescription fraud and forgery lawyer to help you fight the charges against you and reduce the penalties you could face. To schedule a free, confidential consultation on your case, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at (609) 616-4956.