Prescription Fraud / Doctor Shopping
When most people think about the controlled substance crimes established under the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, they think of criminal offenses involving some of the illicit street drugs. However, this chapter of the Florida Statutes, as well as the Florida Drug and Cosmetic Act, criminalize the unlawful possession, sale, or acquisition of prescription drugs.
Both patients and practitioners can face criminal charges for actions that violate Florida law. Even though prescription drugs are legal medications, this does not mean that these types of offenses are any less serious than those involving illegal drugs.
St. Petersburg Prescription Fraud Lawyer
If you believe you are the subject of a criminal investigation or you have already been arrested for some kind of crime involving prescription drugs, you need to immediately focus on developing a legal defense. Morris Law Firm, P.A. can help you avoid severe consequences and fight to have the charges against you significantly reduced or completely dismissed.
Our Pinellas County doctor shopping attorneys represent clients all over the greater St. Petersburg area, including Clearwater, Tampa, and other nearby communities. We will provide a thorough evaluation of your case during a free consultation as soon as you call (727) 388-4736 today.
Florida Doctor Shopping Overview
- How can a person be charged with prescription fraud?
- What is doctor shopping?
- Are there any defenses in these types of cases?
Law enforcement officials typically make arrests in prescription fraud cases following investigations after receiving some kind of tip or learning of some area of concern. However, there are other cases in which police may learn of this offense after making an arrest for a separate charge, such as driving under the influence (DUI) of prescription drugs.
Some of the prescription drugs that are most commonly involved in these offenses include, but are not limited to:
- Demerol (pethidine or meperidine);
- Oxycontin (oxycodone);
- Ritalin (methylphenidate);
- Valium (diazepam);
- Vicodin (hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen); and
- Xanax (alprazolam).
There are numerous crimes outlined under Florida Statute § 893.13 and Florida Statute § 499.03 relating to prescription fraud. Some of these offenses that patients or doctors, pharmacists, or other professionals can be charged with include, but are not limited to:
- Altering prescriptions;
- Calling in fake prescriptions;
- Dispensing or selling prescription drugs to people without prescriptions;
- Forging prescriptions;
- Prescribing drugs without patient visits or valid medical reasons;
- Prescription pad theft; or
- Taking prescription drugs from pharmacy or hospital without valid prescription.
One of the most common prescription drug crimes in the Sunshine State is the practice of doctor shopping. This involves an alleged offender visiting and receiving prescriptions from multiple physicians without notifying any of them of the other treatment.
Florida Statute § 893.13(7)(a)(8) specifically prohibits a person from withholding information from a practitioner from whom he or she seeks to obtain a prescription for a controlled substance that he or she has received a prescription for a controlled substance of like therapeutic use from another practitioner within the previous 30 days. This specific crime is classified as a third-degree felony.
While the phrase “withholding information” in this section is not clearly defined, prosecutors have been able to get courts to interpret this as meaning the statute is violated when a patient seeking a prescription fails to inform the doctor that he or she has already obtained a prescription for the same or similar controlled substance within the last 30 days—regardless of whether the doctor specifically asked the patient about prior prescriptions.
The grading of a prescription drug crime depends on specific nature of the alleged fraud. Generally, an alleged offender can face the following statutory maximum sentences if convicted:
- Second-Degree Misdemeanor — Up to 60 days in jail and/or fine of up to $500;
- First-Degree Misdemeanor — Up to one year in jail and/or fine of up to $1,000;
- Third-Degree Felony — Up to five years in prison and/or fine of up to $5,000;
- Second-Degree Felony — Up to 15 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000; or
- First-Degree Felony — Up to 30 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000.
Skilled and knowledgeable legal counsel can help identify the best possible defenses against the charges you face. Every case is different, but a few common defenses may include, but are not limited to:
- Additional doctors consulted for different, legitimate medical conditions;
- Different prescription for separate medical purposes;
- Lack of evidence;
- Prescriptions issued or filled in good faith; and/or
- Prior prescriptions were properly disclosed.
Find a Prescription Fraud – Doctor Shopping Lawyer in St. Petersburg
Are you being investigated for or have you already been charged with some type of crime relating to illegally prescribed medications? You will want to have thoroughly experienced legal representation.
Morris Law Firm, P.A. helps patients and practitioners accused of prescription drug crimes in communities throughout Sarasota County, Manatee County, Hillsborough County, Pasco County, and the Pinellas peninsula. Call (727) 388-4736 right now to have our Pinellas County prescription fraud attorneys review your case during a free consultation.