Some Minnesotans believe that possessing prescription drugs for which they do not have valid prescriptions is legal, but they may be charged with criminal offenses if they obtain or attempt to obtain drugs by fraudulent means, including forging prescriptions. In the state, people may be charged with illegally possessing prescription drugs even if they are not successful in securing them if they present forged prescriptions. A drug attorney in St. Paul helps to defend against allegations of prescription drug crimes, including prescription forgeries.
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Prescription drugs are among the most commonly abused substances in the United States. Some people become addicted to prescription pain relievers after they have suffered from accidents. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, women are likelier to become addicted to prescription pain relievers than are men. Between 1999 and 2010, 48,000 women died of overdoses of prescription pain relief medications. In 2015, 122,000 minors between the ages of 12 and 17 were addicted to prescription drugs, and 276,000 were estimated to be using prescription pain relievers for nonmedical purposes.
One way that people attempt to obtain prescriptions includes forging prescriptions. Under the law, a person who uses fraud or deceit in order to obtain or attempt to procure a prescription medication may be convicted of a fifth degree controlled drug offense. The potential penalty for this type of conviction may include up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000 or both imprisonment and a fine. A drug attorney in St. Paul may work to help clients who forged prescriptions to obtain alternative pleas so that they may avoid imprisonment.
Examples of Prescription Fraud
Even when people are able to show that they have been validly prescribed a drug, they may still be charged with a crime if they have obtained more of the drug than they should by doing any of the following:
- Stealing a doctor’s prescription pad and then writing prescriptions using it in order to obtain prescription drugs
- Forging a prescription and presenting it to a pharmacy whether or not doing so is successful
- Altering a valid prescription to attempt to get more medication than what was prescribed
- Misrepresenting a person’s identity in order to get another person’s prescription of drugs
Because of the epidemic of prescription drug abuse across both Minnesota and the U.S., the illegal possession of prescription drugs and related crimes, including prescription fraud and forgery, are treated harshly under the law. A drug attorney in St. Paul may assert several defenses in an effort to protect clients who have been charged with these offenses.
Substances that Are Commonly Obtained
There are a number of different prescription drugs that are commonly sought using fraudulent means in Minnesota. These drugs are highly addictive and may be prescribed to help with pain, anxiety disorders, sleeping disorders and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. People may engage in prescription forgery in order to obtain the medications that are used to treat these disorders. Some of the medications that are most commonly sought include benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Klonopin. Opioid pain relievers are another category of medications that people may forge prescriptions in order to get them. These may include hydrocodone, oxycodone, Morphine, Percocet and Soma. Some people also use fraudulent means to try to obtain Ritalin or Adderall, stimulants that are commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Why People Forge Prescriptions
Many people forge prescriptions because they have become addicted to medications that were initially legally prescribed to them. Prescription painkillers are especially subject to abuse. In order to get the same effects, people must take increasing amounts of the drugs. Some people also become addicted after they have used them recreationally and when they have never had valid prescriptions. This may lead them to try to obtain prescription drugs without valid prescriptions so that they can avoid the pain of withdrawal that might otherwise be involved with quitting their use.
Sentencing Alternatives and Defenses
When a drug attorney in St. Paul represents clients who are charged with prescription drug possession or forgery, the attorney may review the evidence in order to determine the available defenses. The attorney may also work to secure an alternative sentence for his or her clients, especially if they are first-time offenders.
Because the problem of prescription drug abuse is well-documented in Minnesota, the state allows some people to enter into treatment programs through diversion or stay of adjudication programs. If the people successfully complete all of the terms of their stays of adjudication or diversions, they may avoid prison time as well as having the convictions appear on their records. This may help them to also avoid the collateral consequences that might happen in the event that they were convicted of the drug crime, including problems with finding jobs, obtaining housing and getting loans.