Forging or Altering a Prescription

What is California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription?

In California, it is against the law to fake or modify a prescription.  This prohibition is codified in the California law books as California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription.  This law encompasses many types of activities.  For example, it is against the law to sign another person’s signature onto a prescription – regardless of whether the person you are signing is an actual person or a made up person.  Also, for instance, it is against the law to get possession of medicine using a fake prescription. All in all, as you can tell, California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription goes beyond prohibiting just faking or modifying a prescription.  It includes untruthfully making, modifying, counterfeiting, or producing a prescription.  It also includes trying to pretend something is a legitimate prescription or even having drugs procured by a bad prescription.

What is the legal description for California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription?

Above, we discussed generally discussed California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription.  However, it is important to understand the meaning of California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription in legal terms.  It is important to understand the individual nuances of the law because they form the basis of many of the issues that will be discussed, debated, and negotiated (by your California Criminal Defense Attorney and the Prosecutor) throughout your criminal prosecution process.  Your attorney will be seeking evidence to highlight the fact that your particular situation doesn’t fit the definition of these terms.  Meanwhile, your prosecutor will be seeking evidence to highlight that your situation meets the definition of these terms. 

In order to be convicted of California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription, in a trial hearing, where a judge or jury makes the ultimate verdict of guilt or innocence, the prosecutor must prove that your case meets the definition of these terms by a particular level of certainty.  For a California Business and Professions Code crime, the level certainty required by law is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  Of course, your attorney will be seeking to nullify any of the prosecutor’s evidence and will introduce counter-evidence of their own. 

Of course, you could be convicted outside of a trial hearing.  This could happen if you formally confess or you accept a plea bargain. 

We encourage you to read below to fully understand the individual aspects of California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription.  We believe that the better educated you are about the charges you face, the better able you will be able handle the criminal prosecution process.  Besides, we work with you, as a team, to build the strongest levels of defense.  Hence, it is important to understand how California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription defines certain terms.  This way you can help us help you.  By knowing the terms, you might be able to tell us something that is relevant to your case that you normally would not think of.  In the end, it is our job to take what you tell us (and what we find) and convert it into something that is legally meaningful and useful.

Drugs

To be liable under California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription, the drugs involved could be those obtained from a prescription but it could also include drugs obtained without a prescription.  Additionally, it also includes drugs used for veterinary situations.

Prescription

According to California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription, a prescription is an instruction to provide drugs, either through a writing, by the phone, or through electronic communications (i.e., a prescription writing that is faxed).  In general, a valid prescription must include all of the following information: name of the person getting the drugs (patient), the name and amount of the drug being given (prescribed drug), instructions on how to use the drug, time of when the prescription was made, contact information of the medical professional prescribing (name, address of place, and phone information), and the signature of the medical professional.

Utter

The definition of  “utter” under California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription is larger than the definition used generally by society.  A prescription is wrongfully uttered, under California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription, when you either used (or tried to do so) a dis-ingenious prescription or you indicate that a particular prescription was authentic.  For example, you take a piece of paper to a pharmacist and tell them it is what your doctor gave you in order to procure drugs.

What are the potential punishments for California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription?

The potential punishments under California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription can be quite severe.  California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription is considered a wobbler.  This means that you could be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony.  The decision to charge you with a felony or a misdemeanor is decided by the prosecutor.  They make the decision based on two factors.  First, they look at the particular circumstances of your case.  If the facts are particularly troublesome, you are more likely to be charged with a felony.  Second, they will look at your criminal record.  If you have a history of fraudulent activity, then you will more likely be charged with a felony.  The same goes the other way.  If the facts of your case are not particularly heinous, then the prosecutor will likely file misdemeanor charges.  Similarly, if you have a clean criminal record, especially when it comes to drugs, then they will likely pursue a misdemeanor.

The decision to charge you with a felony or a misdemeanor is very important.  This sets the potential punishment set point.  Hence, any negotiating between your attorney and the prosecutor will begin at the starting point of the felony or misdemeanor baseline punishments.  Fortunately, your California Criminal Defense Attorney can persuade the prosecutor to reduce a felony charge to a misdemeanor charge.  And in many cases, your attorney can persuade them to drop charges entirely.  In many cases, your attorney could convince the prosecutor to never file charges in the first place.  For this reason, it is important to hire a skilled defense attorney early on.  Furthermore, if the baseline punishment is prison time, it is hard to negotiate to probation.  But if the baseline punishment is probation, it is easier to negotiate an alternative charge, where the punishment is a small fine and community service.

Important to note, if you are charged with a felony, then the prosecutor will most likely come from the district attorney’s office.  If you are charged with a misdemeanor, then you will most likely be assigned a prosecutor from the city attorney’s office.  This is important because these separate offices handle cases different.  Depending on the county, the local district attorney might be more willing to negotiate than the local city attorney.  Speak with your California Criminal Defense Attorney about what to expect from the particular prosecutor in your case.

The potential punishments for a misdemeanor California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription violation includes any or all of the following: a maximum of one year in county jail, misdemeanor probation, and a maximum sanction of one thousand dollars.

The potential punishments for a felony California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription violation include any and all of the following: a maximum of 3 years in a county jail, felony probation, and a maximum sanction of ten thousand dollars.

If the judge sentences you with probation, then most likely they will not give you a jail sentence.  This is the positive side of receiving probation.  However, probation can last anywhere between 3 to 5 years.  In this time, you will be mandated to meet certain requirements, such as undergoing therapy, drug testing, pay sanctions, and community service (such as cleaning up the side of highways).  Furthermore, the police are allowed to search and enter your place without a warrant during this time period.  Additionally, if you are convicted of any crimes, the probation could be rescinded and you could be given jail time.  The same goes if you violate any of the conditions of your probation.  If you are on felony probation, then you will also be required to attend periodic sessions with a probation officer.  These usually occur at a rate of once a month.

What are the legal defenses available to fight a charge of California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription?

As discussed above, the potential punishments for California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription can be quite severe.  Fortunately, there are a variety of legal defenses available to fight such a charge.  An experienced and diligent California Criminal Defense Attorney can review the specific circumstances of your case and discuss with you what legal defenses are specifically available in your case.  In addition, your attorney may include procedural defenses.  If the evidence against you is strong, an effective strategy may include relying more on procedural defenses.  If the evidence against you is weak, then your attorney may try to focus on substantive defenses.  Of course, a good strategy usually includes a combination of both types of defenses.  Talk with your attorney to find out what strategy would work best for your particular situation.

The following are some of the more common legal defenses to a charge of California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription:  You did not sign the prescription, The call that made the prescription did not originate from your phone, someone else took your phone to make the phone call at issue, or there was a mistake made by the hospital or pharmacist.

A common example of a procedural defense is that the problematic prescription was found through an illegal search.  In this case, your attorney would want to file a Motion to Suppress.  A motion for suppress would remove evidence from consideration.  For example, it could remove evidence of an improper prescription.  Without being able to include the prescription into trial, the prosecutor would have a hard time proving their case.  This makes sense because the very case against you is that you had an improper prescription!  Thus, the prosecutor would be more amenable to negotiate a reduced sentence or might be forced to dismiss the charge entirely.  Talk to your attorney to discuss what kind of procedural defenses might be available in your particular situation.

Similar Crimes to California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription.

The following crimes are often charged in lieu of, or in conjunction with, California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription.  They each have their own potential punishments that could be applied consecutively to the punishment you might receive for California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription.  These crimes arise out of a different section of the California law books, particularly the Health and Safety codes.  However, they are still charged and prosecuted by the California criminal courts system.

H & S 11368 is a crime that prohibits faking or modifying a prescription - specifically for a narcotic.  Hence, it is a more specific and narrow law.  This law is also a wobbler.  A misdemeanor conviction could lead to a maximum of 6 months in county jail and a maximum sanction of one thousand dollars.  A felony conviction could result in a maximum sentence of 3 years in a state prison and a maximum sanction of ten thousand dollars.

H & S 11173 is a crime that prohibits doctor shopping.  Essentially, this crime makes it illegal to obtain a prescription for drugs from multiple sources, when each source does not know that the other provided you a prescription as well. Another way to get convicted of this crime is by lying to a doctor in order to get a particular drug.  In short, this crime punishes prescription fraud.  The punishments for a conviction under this code are similar to H & S 11368.

H & S 11350 punishes possessing illegal drugs or prescription drugs obtained without a proper prescription.  For example, it is illegal to possess drugs not typically used medically, such as heroin, cocaine, etc.

What should you do if charged with California Business and Professions Code 4324 BP Forging or Altering a Prescription?

The best thing you can do is hire a skilled and experienced California Criminal Defense Attorney as quickly as possible.  We know this sounds cliché.  But there are many reasons why hiring an attorney early, or even preventively, is advantageous.  First, a talented attorney can work to prevent charges from being filed in the first place.  After a crime is reported, there is usually a period of time before prosecutors decide to file charges.  The police and prosecutors are conducting an investigation in this time.  Your attorney can show them evidence they might not otherwise see.  Or bring up aspects of the case they would not otherwise consider.  In many cases, a skilled California Criminal defense attorney can get a case dismissed before any charges are filed.   And in certain cases, you can avoid a formal arrest on your record as well.  Second, evidence can become stale or disappear the longer you wait.  Witnesses might move or forget information that is necessary to defend your case.  For example, alibis are usually easier to develop when memories are fresh.  Its hard to prove where a person was months after.  Third, the best defense is one that prepares for the long run.  Some attorneys deal with your case on a fleeting basis.  We approach each case as if it’s going to trial.  Even though most cases don’t go to trial, judges and prosecutors can instantly tell which attorneys are ready to do so if they need to.  Hence, prepared attorneys get better deals from prosecutors and more benefit of the doubt from judges.  This strategy results in better outcomes for our clients.

We know you have many questions.  And you must be worried about the effect criminal charges will have on you, your life, and your family.  After all, a criminal conviction can affect your employment and could take you away from your family.  We invite you to come talk to us for a free consultation.  We will happily go over your case and answer any questions about what sorts of defenses are available, what the potential punishments are, and what the big issues will be in your case. 

For a free consultation, call one of our Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney at 424-333-0943.

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