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American Inns of Court

Acquiring Prescription Drugs or Controlled Substances by Fraud or Misrepresentation

While a small portion of the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. 843(a)(3), is widely used to prosecute those who knowingly or intentionally obtain controlled substances, generally prescription controlled substances, through fraud or deception. One violates this subsection of Federal law when they make a misrepresentation to a doctor or pharmacist, who in turn relies upon that misrepresentation in releasing a controlled substance to the individual. Regardless of how complex the fraud committed to get the controlled substance, a violation of this law carries with it a maximum penalty of four years in prison for a first offense, eight years if one has a prior conviction for this offense, and if it can be proven that the person obtained the controlled substance as a part of a methamphetamine manufacturing organization they are subject to a maximum of 10 years in the bureau of prisons.

How Does This Charge Occur?

In most indictments, an allegation that one has obtained a controlled substance through fraud is tacked on top of an allegation of possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance in addition to a conspiracy. While this charge can be used to prosecute low-level addicts who find themselves in the throes of prescription pill addiction, it is more often used for those who are a part of a bigger scheme to bilk doctors into prescribing a controlled substance that will later be sold or distributed in exchange for other drugs. The majority of cases involving this allegation involve an individual who is prescribed a medication after a misrepresentation. Other allegations center around individuals, often staff of medical centers, who forge prescriptions for others as a part of a drug conspiracy. In some very rare instances those charged with this offense are involved with rogue doctors who are themselves charged with distributing prescription drugs outside the course of their professional medical practice.

For years, throughout the United States, individuals have travelled to pain clinics in the hope of receiving a prescription for a narcotic of abuse for either their personal addiction, to distribute further, or both. Florida has long been plagued with lax supervision over bad doctors who turn a blind eye to the fraud they know or should know is being committed in their presence, electing instead to fill the prescription desired. While is rare that individuals act alone in this type of fraud, being charged with this conduct does not require an accompanying conspiracy or distribution charge. Practically speaking, when one is charged with acquiring a controlled substance by fraud, they are almost always charged with harsher charges. When this is the case, it is not uncommon for a low level participant in a scheme to cooperate with authorities, to their benefit and the detriment of others, in exchange for harsher charges being dropped and their case being resolved by way of plea to this charge only.

How Can the Mayberry Law Firm Help You?

Because the Federal government generally has thorough records of a prescription controlled substance transaction, charges of this nature can be difficult to defend. In some situations an individual suspected of this illegal activity is in fact a victim of identity theft themselves. On the occasion that one is falsely implicated and it can be shown by your Federal criminal attorney that someone has used their identity to obtain a controlled substance, the charges should be dismissed barring other illegal activity. If identity theft is not in question but one cannot be identified as the person committing this crime, there is a potential identity defense. Lastly, if the Federal criminal lawyer representing the accused can show that no crime has been committed because the required knowing or intentional mental state is absent, a jury should have reasonable doubt as to this charge and acquit.

How Can the Mayberry Law Firm Help?

Jason Mayberry is a seasoned Federal attorney, appearing in our Federal courts with regularity. Because the Federal criminal system is unlike our State court system, it is imperative to hire a well-versed Federal criminal lawyer in Tampa. If you’ve been charged with a Federal drug crime, contact Jason Mayberry today at 813-444-7435 or at 727-771-3847.

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