Drug addiction is a serious and growing problem in the United States of America. Thousands of people have fallen prey to its grip every year. To feed the habit, these addicts resort to illegal means to obtain these controlled substance through theft, fraud and deceit. This includes using criminal means to acquire legally prescribed drugs through otherwise legitimate channels. Obtaining prescription drugs that are not actually prescribed to the offender by a licensed medical professional is a crime that can result in fines, probation and even imprisonment.
Michigan law prohibits ALL of the following illegal activities:
- POSSESSION OF PRESCRIPTION DRUG FORMS: A person shall not knowingly or intentionally possess a prescription form unless the prescription form was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of the practitioner’s professional practice. MCL 333.7403(1). A violation of this statute can result in a misdemeanor conviction punishable by a fine up to $1,000.00 or up to one year in jail, or both. MCL 333.7403(2)(e).
- OBTAINING DRUG PRESCRIPTION THROUGH FRAUD: A person shall not fraudulently obtain or attempt to obtain a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance from a health care provider. MCL 333.7403a(1). A violation of this statute can result in a felony conviction punishable by a fine up to $5,000.00 or up to 4 years in state prison, or both. MCL 333.7403a(4)(a).
- CREATING, MANUFACTURING, DELIVERING OR POSSESSING WITH INTENT TO DELIVER PRESCRIPTION FORMS: A person shall not manufacture, create, deliver, or possess with intent to manufacture, create, or deliver a prescription form or a counterfeit prescription form. MCL 333.7401(1). A violation of this statute can result in a felony conviction punishable by a fine up to $5,000.00 or up to 7 years in state prison, or both. MCL 333.7401(2)(f).
- ACQUIRE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE BY FRAUD: A person shall not knowingly or intentionally acquire or obtain possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge. MCL 333.7407(1)(c). A violation of this statute can result in a felony conviction punishable by a fine up to $30,000.00 or a fine up to 4 years, or both. MCL 333.7407(3).
- POSSESSION OF COUNTERFEIT DRUG FORMS: A person shall not knowingly or intentionally possess counterfeit prescription forms, except as an agent of government while engaged in the enforcement of this law. MCL 333.7407(1)(f). A violation of this statute can result in a felony conviction punishable by a fine up to $30,000.00 or a fine up to 4 years, or both. MCL 333.7407(3).
Even if authorized under federal or state law, licensed practitioners and drug manufacturers are prohibited from distributing prescription drugs unless permitted to by their professional licenses:
- If the person is a licensee, he or she shall not manufacture a controlled substance not authorized by his or her license or distribute, prescribe, or dispense a controlled substance not authorized by his or her license to another licensee or other authorized person, except as authorized by rules promulgated by the administrator. MCL 333.7405(1)(b).
- If the person is a practitioner, he or she shall not dispense a controlled substance under a prescription written and signed; written or created in an electronic format, signed, and transmitted by facsimile; or transmitted electronically or by other means of communication by a physician prescriber, dentist prescriber, or veterinarian prescriber licensed to practice in another state, unless the prescription is issued by a physician prescriber, dentist prescriber, or veterinarian prescriber who is authorized under the laws of that state to practice dentistry, medicine, osteopathic medicine and surgery, or veterinary medicine and to prescribe controlled substances. MCL 333.7405(1)(e).
A license or practitioner who distributes controlled substances without a valid prescription “may be punished by a civil fine of not more than $25,000.00 in a proceeding in the circuit court. However, if the violation is prosecuted by a criminal indictment alleging that the violation was committed knowingly or intentionally, and the trier of the fact specifically finds that the violation was committed knowingly or intentionally, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years, or a fine of not more than $25,000.00, or both.” MCL 333.7406.
In addition to fines and imprisonment, the operator’s license for any offender of prescription fraud offenses will be suspended for six months (but suspended for one year if the individual has any prior controlled substance convictions within seven years of the violation). MCL 333.7408a(1).
If you or a loved one is charged with acquiring prescription drugs by fraud, then you need a skilled criminal defense lawyer in your corner to aggressively defend your rights. You may have defenses available to you that can defeat these serious charges:
- LACK OF KNOWLEDGE OR INTENT: The prosecutor has the burden of proof to show that you knew you illegally possessed a prescription or counterfeit prescription form, or that you intended to use fraud to obtain a prescription. You cannot commit a crime by accident. The prosecutor’s failure to prove this element can lead to an acquittal or dismissal of the charges.
- FOURTH AMENDMENT VIOLATIONS: If the police entered the premises and seized evidence without a warrant and no valid exception under the Fourth Amendment search and seizure requirements, then the court may suppress all of the controlled substances and prescription forms wrongfully taken and the prosecutor will not be able to admit such evidence in court.
- LEGAL PRESCRIPTION TO CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES: If the defendant can prove that he or she actually had a valid and legal prescription to the controlled substances in his or her possession, then the defendant may have a total defense to the charges.
Even if the evidence against you is fairly strong, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to negotiate a resolution that avoids a conviction or license sanctions down the road (e.g. deferral under “7411” or Holmes Youthful Trainee Act). In addition, an attorney may be able to negotiate a sentence that includes a drug treatment program in lieu of immediate jail or prison.
A conviction related to fraud or controlled substances can change your life forever. Future residential, educational and employment opportunities can be defeated by a prescription fraud offense long after your sentence has ended. There is too much at stake to leave your criminal defense to chance. If you need legal representation, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for assistance today.