Although healthcare professionals routinely use prescription drugs to treat specific medical conditions legitimately, many of these drugs also are classified as controlled substances under the state’s Controlled Substances Act. Although these drugs are lawful when medical personnel and patients use them appropriately, individuals also can violate the law when improperly using or distributing these drugs.
One common crime that often involves prescription drugs is the diversion of a controlled substance. Under § 481.1285 of the Texas Controlled Substance Act, individuals commit diversion of a controlled substance when they:
- Converts a controlled substance to which they have access by virtue of their employment or profession to their use or benefit
- Diverts a controlled substance to which they have access by virtue of their employment or professional to the use or benefit of another person
Under this law, medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical professionals may face criminal liability for diverting controlled substances in this manner. This offense is a state jail felony if the controlled substance is converted for personal use, which can result in a jail sentence ranging from 180 days to two years and a fine of not more than $10,000. If the controlled substance is diverted to a third party, then the crime is a third-degree felony, which carries the potential for two to ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Another common crime that often involves prescription drugs is prescription drug fraud. § 481.129 governs the fraudulent distribution, possession, or use of a controlled substance in Texas. This offense can arise in a variety of scenarios. This section covers individuals who:
- Forge prescriptions by stealing prescription pads from doctors or using technology to forge fake prescriptions
- Alter legitimate prescriptions by increasing the number of refills or the strength of the prescription
- Visit different doctors and lie about being prescribed controlled substances by other doctors
- Use someone else’s prescription for some controlled substances
Prescription drug fraud charges can range broadly from Class B misdemeanors to second-degree felonies. The charges largely depend on the Schedule or classification of the controlled substance and the nature of the fraud involved.
Peek & Toland dedicates a large part of its practice to assisting individuals in resolving their criminal charges. We know that criminal proceedings can be intimidating and overwhelming for those who are facing potential penalties for criminal charges. We will work with you to achieve the most favorable outcome possible in your situation. Call our office today and set up a consultation with our skilled criminal defense attorneys today.