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Prescription fraud charges can compound legal troubles

Not every drug crime directly involves the possession, sale, or delivery of controlled substances or other drugs. For example, as part of law enforcement's response to the ongoing prescription drug crisis, investigators and prosecutors are paying special attention to what they see as abuses of our pharmacy system.

In order to obtain controlled substances from a pharmacy, a Fort Myers resident needs a valid prescription signed by someone authorized to prescribe medicine. It may come as no surprise that, in some cases, people may be accused of filling out a blank prescription themselves or having a friend help them do so. Other people may be accused of using different schemes to try to obtain prescription medicine from a pharmacy, such as changing the number of pills or refills on the prescription or altering other information.

The misuse of prescriptions can lead to criminal punishment under Florida law. For example, someone who knowingly uses a false or even altered prescription to get a drug that is not available over the counter can be charged with a misdemeanor offense. The offense, however, can be a felony if the prescription was used to obtain a federally controlled substance, including certain painkillers that have become popular street drugs.

Drug crimes are serious charges, and a person, particularly a professional, can face consequences, both under criminal law and in the form of professional sanctions against their license. Defending against these charges may be an important step for someone who needs to protect their professional reputation.

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