Obtaining Controlled Substances by Fraud
Fraud is not a criminal charge that is commonly associated with the underground nature of illegal drug trade, but people are more frequently arrested for fraud offenses under the Texas Controlled Substances Act when they illegally obtain prescription drugs. While many different pharmaceuticals are indeed legal with valid prescriptions, individuals can be charged with fraud crimes as the result of attempting to abuse or possibly altering prescriptions.
Different prescriptions drugs are classified under different drug schedules, and those classifications can have a major impact on the severity of alleged fraud charges. Some of the most common examples of prescription fraud involve "doctor shopping" (alleged offenders seeing multiple physicians in attempts to accumulate excess quantities of prescription drugs), impersonating medical staff, and altering or forging prescriptions.
Attorney for Obtaining Controlled Substances by Fraud in Houston, TX
Were you arrested in southeast Texas for an alleged prescription drug fraud offense? No matter how confident you are in your innocence, you should still refuse to make any kind of statement to authorities until you have first contacted Horak Law.
Houston criminal defense lawyer Matt Horak defends clients accused of all kinds of drug crimes in Conroe, Richmond-Rosenberg, Pearland, Houston, Missouri City, Spring, League City, Galveston, Sugar Land, Pasadena, The Woodlands, and several surrounding areas of Harris County. Call our firm at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 to have our attorney review your case and help you understand all of your legal options during a free, confidential consultation.
Overview of Obtaining Controlled Substances by Fraud in Harris County
- When can a person be arrested for a controlled substance fraud offense?
- How long can alleged offenders be sentenced to prison if convicted?
- Where can I find more information about obtaining controlled substances by fraud in Houston?
Texas Penal Code § 481.129(a) establishes that a person commits fraud if he or she knowingly:
- distributes as a registrant or dispenser a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or II, unless the person distributes the controlled substance as authorized under the federal Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. Section 801 et seq.);
- uses in the course of manufacturing, prescribing, or distributing a controlled substance a Federal Drug Enforcement Administration registration number that is fictitious, revoked, suspended, or issued to another person;
- issues a prescription bearing a forged or fictitious signature;
- uses a prescription issued to another person to prescribe a Schedule II controlled substance;
- possesses, obtains, or attempts to possess or obtain a controlled substance or an increased quantity of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge; through use of a fraudulent prescription form; or through use of a fraudulent oral or telephonically communicated prescription; or
- furnishes false or fraudulent material information in or omits material information from an application, report, record, or other document required to be kept or filed under this chapter.
Under Texas Penal Code § 481.129(a-1), a person commits fraud if he or she, with intent to obtain a controlled substance or combination of controlled substances that is not medically necessary for the person or an amount of a controlled substance or substances that is not medically necessary for the person, obtains or attempts to obtain from a practitioner a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, subterfuge, or concealment of a material fact (doctor shopping). For purposes of this subsection, a material fact includes whether the person has an existing prescription for a controlled substance issued for the same period of time by another practitioner.
Any one of the offenses listed above is a second-degree felony if the controlled substance that is the subject of the alleged offense is listed in Schedule I or II. If the controlled substance that is the subject of the alleged offense is listed in Schedule III or IV, fraud is a third-degree felony. Fraud is a Class A misdemeanor if any controlled substance that is the subject of the alleged offense is listed in Schedule V.
It is also a Class A misdemeanor under Texas Penal Code § 481.129(b) for an alleged offender to knowingly or intentionally make, distribute, or possess a punch, die, plate, stone, or other thing designed to print, imprint, or reproduce an actual or simulated trademark, trade name, or other identifying mark, imprint, or device of another on a controlled substance or the container or label of a container for a controlled substance, so as to make the controlled substance a counterfeit substance; or manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to deliver a counterfeit substance.
Texas Penal Code § 481.129(c)(1) makes it a criminal offense for a person to knowingly or intentionally deliver a prescription or a prescription form for other than a valid medical purpose in the course of professional practice. Fraud is a second-degree felony if the alleged offender delivers a prescription form or a prescription for a controlled substance listed in Schedule II, and a third-degree felony if the alleged offender delivers a prescription form or a prescription for a controlled substance listed in Schedule III, IV, or V.
Under Texas Penal Code § 481.129(c)(2), a person commits fraud if he or she possesses a prescription for a controlled substance or a prescription form unless the prescription or prescription form is possessed:
- during the manufacturing or distribution process;
- by a practitioner, practitioner's agent, or an institutional practitioner for a valid medical purpose during the course of professional practice;
- by a pharmacist or agent of a pharmacy during the professional practice of pharmacy;
- under a practitioner's order made by the practitioner for a valid medical purpose in the course of professional practice; or
- by an officer or investigator authorized to enforce this chapter within the scope of the officer's or investigator's official duties.
A violation of Texas Penal Code § 481.129(c)(2) is a state jail felony if the alleged offender possesses a prescription form or a prescription for a controlled substance listed in Schedule II or III. If the alleged offender possesses a prescription for a controlled substance listed in Schedule IV or V, fraud is a Class B misdemeanor.
The sentence that an alleged offender receives if convicted of prescription fraud will depend on the grade of his or her alleged offense. Controlled substance fraud crimes are usually punishable as follows:
- Class B misdemeanor — Up to 180 days in jail and/or fine of up to $2,000;
- Class A misdemeanor — Up to one year in jail and/or fine of up to $4,000;
- State Jail Felony — Up to two years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000;
- Third-Degree Felony — Up to 10 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000; and
- Second -Degree Felony — Up to 20 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000.
Texas Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) | Texas State Board of Pharmacy — The PMP collects and monitors prescription data for all Schedule II, III, IV and V controlled substances dispensed by a pharmacy in Texas or to a Texas resident from a pharmacy located in another state. Visit this website to learn more about pharmacy laws and rules, training and informational videos, and license renewals. You can also order official prescription forms and find information about fraudulent official prescription forms.
Important Notice on PMP / Prescription Pad Ordering | Texas Medical Board — The passage of Senate Bill 195 by the 84th Texas Legislature in 2015 eliminated the requirement for controlled substances registration (CSR) with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). The DPS CSR registration process was not by another process. On this section of the Texas Medical Board website, you can read about additional changes that became effective on September 1, 2016.
Horak Law | Houston Obtaining Controlled Substances by Fraud Defense Lawyer
If you were arrested or think that you could be under investigation for an alleged prescription fraud offense in southeast Texas, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Horak Law represents individuals in communities all over Waller County, Fort Bend County, Harris County, Liberty County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Montgomery County.
Matt Horak is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Houston who will work tirelessly to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. You can have our lawyer provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call our firm at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 or complete an online contact form to receive a free initial consultation.