There has been an unfortunate spike in opioid addiction in recent years. Along with the increase in painkiller dependency, doctor shopping, an illegal act with stiff penalties, has become commonplace in the Golden State.
Doctor shopping is a type of prescription fraud that occurs when patients visit many different doctors to obtain a controlled substance. If you are facing prescription fraud charges, it is important to understand your potential legal consequences.
California law prohibits prescription fraud
California’s Health and Safety Code makes it a crime both to obtain and to attempt to obtain controlled substances through any of the following means:
- Concealment of a material fact
If you use any of the above methods to secure prescription drugs for yourself or for someone else, prosecutors may charge you with a criminal offense. Furthermore, it is important to understand that you do not have to be successful. Simply trying to get your hands on a controlled substance can violate state law.
Prosecutors have a choice
Prescription fraud is a wobbler offense, meaning prosecutors may decide to bring either misdemeanor or felony charges. If they opt to charge you with a misdemeanor, you can spend up to a year in jail following a conviction. For a felony conviction, it is possible to spend three years behind bars.
Your intentions matter
To be guilty of either misdemeanor or felony prescription fraud, you must intend to commit a crime. Prosecutors must also prove each element of the offense.
Consequently, if you did not intend to break the law, you may have no legal liability at all. The same is true if prosecutors fail to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.