Prescription drug forgery is a serious offense in Illinois which can result in up to five years in prison. If you are convicted, even as a first-time offender, prescription drug forgery is considered a felony offense in the United States. Medical professionals who engage in this crime can face losing their licenses, major fines and jail time. Patients with a painkiller prescription may also exploit their medication for their own benefit and suffer similar legal consequences.
In Illinois, according to the Illinois Controlled Substances Act [720 ILCS 570/406(b)(3)], a prescription drug crime is defined as acquiring or obtaining possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge. Drug forgery, the act of falsifying medical prescriptions, can have very serious consequences if you are convicted, such as:
- 1st time offender: Up to $100,000 fine and/or 1 to 3 years in penitentiary
- 2nd time offender: Up to $200,000 fine and/or 2 to 5 years in penitentiary
Why People Commit Prescription Drug Forgery
Medical professionals may engage in prescription drug forgery due to the feeling of a moral responsibility to help patients. For example, the family member of a pharmacy technician has run out of a prescription and is suffering. The technician may forge a doctor’s note and provide an “under the counter” or illegal prescription. In another instance, a patient may bribe their doctor into prescription forgery.
Medical professionals are not the only ones to turn to illegal activities involving prescription drugs. Those who have been introduced to an addictive medication to treat a physical ailment, chronic pain or disability are also at risk. A patient who suffers a long-term addiction problem may become desperate when prescriptions run out and take drastic measures. The addictive qualities of painkiller medications such as Xanax, Percocet, Vicodin, Norco, Lortab and OxyContin containing Hydrocodone can lead to tolerance or withdrawal in users.
To fight these symptoms, often a patient needs to increase the dosage to achieve the original pain relief they once felt when they first started taking their prescription. To completely stop taking a painkiller, a patient has to gradually reduce their dose over time, but this can be difficult. That is why, unfortunately, many people turn to prescription drug abuse.
How People Commit Prescription Drug Forgery
Regardless of circumstance, medical professionals and patients alike can fall into a pattern of illegal abuse of prescription drugs. Altering an existing prescription or forging a new one is a federal crime, but people still take advantage of and obtain painkiller prescriptions by:
- Stealing a physician's prescription pad and writing prescriptions for fake patients
- Changing a physician's prescription by increasing quantity of drug (altering a prescription)
- Creating fake prescriptions using computer software
- Calling in prescriptions and using personal phone number for callback confirmation
- Calling in prescriptions and impersonating medical personnel
Other Prescription Drug Crimes
Painkiller patients often seek to fulfill their own tolerance or withdrawal needs, but there are also those who exploit their medications for profit. In an August 2012 study by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority on Drug Task Force Operations in Illinois, one focus group of police chiefs and policy board members suggested that individuals often sell drugs as a way of making money. One officer stated, "You’re seeing people selling pills just to make some extra money because they don't have jobs."
Fraud and forgery often go hand in hand when a prosecutor is looking to convict you of a prescription drug crime. Prescription fraud occurs when people obtain prescription drugs that have not been prescribed to them legally. Prescription forgery transpires when an individual who is not legally authorized to prescribe drugs obtains them through the use of replicated or altered prescriptions. So, a controlled substance (or illegal prescription) can be obtained by both fraud as well as forgery. However, since both charges are so similar, to achieve a conviction, often the two charges are reduced to one count.
For answers to your prescription drug fraud and forgery questions, consult Glasgow & Olsson immediately. Call (847) 577-8700 to schedule a free initial case consultation.