Review of Counterfeit Prescription Blank Laws and Defenses
California Health and Safety Code 11162.5 HS prohibits someone from making or possessing counterfeit prescription blanks for a controlled substance that are regulated under the Controlled Substances Act.
HS 11162.5 is a “wobbler” offense that the prosecutor can file as either a misdemeanor or a felony, which is punishable by a maximum of three years in jail.
Prescription blanks are often called a “pad,” and are simply what doctors often use to authorize a prescription for controlled substances. However, electronic prescriptions are now the modem computerized versions that are more commonly used.
This statute not only makes it a crime to counterfeit a prescription blank, but also to knowingly have possession of them.
There are many addicts who will take desperate steps to obtain their prescription drugs, including making a counterfeit prescription pad to fool pharmacist to give them controlled substances.
A man who is severely addicted to Oxycontin is desperately looking for a way to support his habit. He devices a scheme to make duplicate copies of his doctor's prescription pad after he is able to steal one from their office.
After the counterfeit copies have been completed, he then writes a fake prescription, forges the doctor's signature, and then takes fraudulent prescription to be filled by his local pharmacy.
In this example, the man could be charged with producing a counterfeit prescription blanks that are in violation of Health & Safety Code 11162.5 HS.
For more information, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are reviewing the law below.
What is the Legal Definition of California HS 11162.5?
California Health & Safety Code Section 11162.5 provides a legal definition for counterfeiting a prescription blank:
- “Any person who counterfeits a prescription blank purporting it to be an official prescription blank prepared under subsection 11161.5, or knowingly possesses over three counterfeited prescription blanks, will be imprisoned for up to one year.”
Put simply, under HS 11162.5, this definition states you are committing a crime if you counterfeit a prescription blank and if you simply knowingly possess a counterfeited form.
To “counterfeit” a prescription pad means an exact imitation when you have the specific intent to defraud or deceive.
Elements of the crime
In order to be convicted HS 11162.5 counterfeiting a prescription blank, the prosecutor has to prove different factors that are commonly referred to as the “elements of the crime," that a defendant::”
- counterfeited a prescription blank purporting to be an official prescription blank that was issued by a licensed physician, or
- knowingly had possession of counterfeited prescription blanks.
The punishments for a conviction will depend on the amount of counterfeiting a prescription blanks defendant knowingly possessed.
What are the Punishments?
As noted above, Health and Safety Code 11162.5 HS counterfeiting a prescription pad and knowingly possessing one are “wobbler” crimes.
This simply means the prosecutor has the discretion to file the case as a misdemeanor or felony.
If convicted of HS 11162.5 as misdemeanor, the penalties include the following:
- up to one year in the county jail,
- a fine up to $1,000.
If convicted of a HS 11162.5 felony for producing or possessing four or more counterfeit prescription blanks, the penalties include the following:
- 16 months, two or three years in county jail,
- A fie up to $10,000.
If you possessed or produced three or less counterfeit prescription pads, you will be facing the misdemeanor penalties described above.
Forgery of a Prescription Blank
A closely related crime for HS 11162.5 counterfeiting a prescription blank is California Health & Safety Code 11368 HS, forging a prescription for a narcotic drug, such as codeine.
For example, the same man above makes an appointment at his doctor's office for an alleged routine physical, which is just a cover story.
During the physical exam, he is able to distract the doctor and steals a couple of pages off the nearby prescription pad.
When gets home, the writes himself a prescription, forges the doctor's signature, and takes it to his local pharmacy.
What are the Related California Crimes?
Health & Safety Code 11173 HS – doctor shopping and prescription fraud,
Health & Safety Code 11368 HS – forging prescription for a narcotic drug,
Health & Safety Code 11153 HS – prescribe controlled substance without medical purpose,
Health & Safety Code 11154(a) HS – prescribing drug without treatment,
Health & Safety Code 11156 HS – prescribe a controlled substance to an addict,
Business and Professions Code 4324 BPC - forging or altering a prescription.
Defenses for Counterfeit Prescription Blank Cases
If you are under investigation, or already arrested and charged with violation of California Health and Safety Code 11162.5 counterfeiting a prescription blank, our criminal defense lawyers need to review the details to determine the best possible strategy. Some common defenses include:
Lack of knowledge
If you go back to the elements of the crime above, recall that the prosecutor has to prove you knowingly possessed a counterfeited prescription blank.
Put simply, it must be proven you had a counterfeited prescription pad within your control.
Perhaps we could show you simply did not know you were in possession of a counterfeit prescription pad. Maybe it was located under the seat of a car you were driving and you had no knowledge it was there.
Lack of intent
Recall again the elements of the crime above that say you have to exactly duplicate a prescription pad with the specific intent to deceive or defraud. We could possible make a successful argument to never attempted to deceive or trick anyone.
Police will often conduct an undercover “sting” operation where they will pretend they want to purchase a counterfeit prescription pads.
We might argue police lured you into committing the crime you would have not otherwise committed.
This is commonly called “entrapment,” which is essentially proving undercover police acted improperly by using harassment, fraud, or threats to convince you to commit a crime.
We also might be able to negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges or even get the case dismissed.
Further, through a process known as prefiling intervention, it might be possible to present mitigating factors and persuade the prosecutor from filing formal charges before court.
Eisner Gorin LLP is based in Los Angeles County with two separate locations including Century City and Van Nuys.
Contact our office for an initial consultation at (877) 781-1570.