Prescription Fraud in Maine
Protecting the Citizens of Portland, Biddeford, Saco, Augusta and Bangor
Maine criminal code Title 17-A defines a prescription drug a any drug that:
A. Under federal law is required, prior to being dispensed or delivered, to be labeled with either of the following statements:
(1) "Caution: Federal law prohibits dispensing without prescription." or
(2) "Caution: Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian."
B. Is required by an applicable federal or state law or rule to be dispensed on prescription only or is restricted to use by practitioners only. [1989, c. 384, §1]
What constitutes prescription fraud?
Prescription fraud can be defined as any unlawful acquisition of prescription drugs for profit, personal use and/or recreation—which is usually due to an addiction. This could include any acts such as visiting several doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions, forging a prescription, and/or altering a prescription to increase the quantity. All of these acts are illegal and punishable under the law. Some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs—according to law enforcement agencies—include:
- Vicodin (hydrocodone)
- Valium (diazepam)
- Xanax (alprazolam)
- OxyContin (oxycodone)
- Percocet (oxycodone/paracetamol)
Although these substances are frequently, and legally, prescribed for various medical conditions, many of these drugs can create a high level of dependency if taken for a prolonged period of time—causing an addiction to develop in abusive users. Taking measures to illegally obtain prescriptions for these drugs, however, is a punishable offense and can have serious penalties if convicted of a prescription fraud charge.
What is Prescription Fraud?
There is no one action that constitutes prescription fraud. Instead, anything in which a person attempts or successfully obtains a prescription drug when it is not medically necessary can be charged as prescription fraud. Some of these crimes include the following:
Forging Prescriptions: This can be done in an almost infinite number of ways but generally involves a person changing their prescription or writing themselves false prescriptions in an attempt to get a large amount of a certain drug. Offenders will usually do this a number of times and at various pharmacies.
Stealing Prescription Pads: The act of simply stealing a prescription pad from a doctor or obtaining a pad illegally can be a crime. You can be charged with prescription fraud even if you did not use the pad to get any drugs.
Doctor Shopping: This is a term used to describe the practice of a person going from doctor to doctor either attempting to get one to write them a prescription for a drug that they want or getting multiple prescriptions for the same drug. For example, if a person wants ADHD medicine but does not really have ADHD, they may visit many doctors until one is finally willing to diagnose them.
Penalties of a Conviction
Prescription fraud has grown heavily throughout the United States in recent years, and people have become more and more susceptible to prescription drug addiction, in turn. Prescription fraud is a felony offense across the nation, and the penalties are waged accordingly. If convicted of this offense, one can expect to face up to five years in prison and hefty fines. Not only can an individual who acted unlawfully face harsh penalties, but any doctor who knowingly acted as an accomplice, or enabled this crime, can face the same consequences, as well—in addition to losing their license to practice medicine. A Maine prescription fraud attorney can assist you in fighting these charges and avoiding the negative consequences of a conviction.
If someone is faced with a first time offense, they might be able to reduce their charges to probation paired with the completion of a rehabilitation program. It is crucial for anyone faced with these charges to enlist qualified legal representation, however, if they hope to avoid the maximum penalty. Most states have a "zero tolerance" attitude toward any kind of drug crime, and they increase the severity of the punishment accordingly, as the frequency of this crime occurs.
Drug Crime Defense Attorneys in Maine
The experienced attorneys at The Law Office of William T. Bly are dedicated to helping clients fight the criminal charges they are faced with. We begin by listening to the details of your case and arrest and then examining the situation to look for any defense options. We request the prosecution to turn over all the evidence they have against you and then our legal team works to challenge the validity of every piece of evidence. In drug crime cases, we attempt to question the practices the police used in collecting the evidence against you. If we can prove your rights were violated at any time, the evidence cannot be used in court. If you have been charged with handling prescriptions fraudulently, contact our offices to see how we can help you.