While prescription medications can be an effective way to treat and manage health conditions, they can be dangerous when used improperly. Each year, there are more than 1.2 million emergency room visits related to prescription drug overdoses. In many cases, people are able to obtain these drugs due to prescription fraud.
The abuse of prescription medication is a major problem, and prescription fraud is taken very seriously by law enforcement. Even if you’re a first-time offender, you could wind up with a felony on your record. That’s why you need the assistance of a Nashville prescription fraud defense lawyer.
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What is Prescription Fraud in Tennessee?
The term “prescription drug fraud” describes the unlawful acquisition of prescription medication for profit or personal use. Drug theft, burglary, and illegal drug importation are not classified as fraud under the law.
In Tennessee, it is illegal to possess or attempt to possess controlled substances via fraud, forgery, misrepresentation, or another form of deception. Examples of this could include forging a prescription or feigning symptoms to obtain a prescription for a controlled substance.
There are many different types of prescription fraud. One common example is “doctor shopping,” which involves visiting multiple doctors in order to obtain as many pills as possible. Another common offense is forging prescriptions. This could be done by stealing a prescription pad or DEA number or by altering a legitimate prescription in order to get more medication.
In some cases, prescription fraud occurs in the workplace. Employees may steal drugs from work for personal use or to sell. It’s not unusual for healthcare workers to be the defendants in prescription fraud cases. Many people that choose to commit prescription fraud choose to do so because they are addicted to a drug that they were legitimately prescribed.
Not all prescription medications are classified as controlled substances under Tennessee law. These drugs are strictly regulated by both the Tennessee State Board of Pharmacy and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
These substances are criminalized if they are not distributed by an authorized health care practitioner or not acquired via a valid prescription. In some cases, someone could be charged for possession even if their medication was legally obtained.
Giving prescription medication to a friend or a family member is classified as casual exchange, which is usually a misdemeanor. Failure to disclose a controlled substance prescription to a healthcare professional providing you with that medication is also a misdemeanor. Intent to sell or obtain drugs is a more serious offense and is labeled as a class D felony.
If you’re facing prescription drug charges, it’s important to work with a Nashville prescription fraud defense lawyer that can build a strong case on your behalf.
What Are the Penalties for Prescription Drug Fraud in Tennessee?
The penalties for prescription drug fraud may vary based on a number of factors, including the type of substance and the number of units involved in the offense. Fines may range from $1,000 to $100,000. Other penalties may include probation, jail or prison time, community service, and forfeiture of property.
Controlled substances are divided into five categories known as “drug schedules.” These categories are designed to reflect the potential for abuse and dependence. Schedule I substances have no acceptable medical use and have a high potential for abuse. Schedule II drugs are regularly prescribed, but still have a significant risk of dependence or abuse. Common examples include Adderall, Oxycontin, and Demerol.
Schedule III drugs have a moderate to low potential for abuse and dependence. Examples include Vicodin and Tylenol with codeine. Schedule IV drugs have a low risk for abuse or dependence and include Xanax, Ambien, and Valium. Schedule V drugs have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV substances and include Lyrica, Robitussin AC, and Motofen.
Drug fraud involving Schedule I or Schedule II substances is a second degree felony. Fraud involving substances on the Schedule III, or Schedule IV lists is a third degree felony. Offenses involving Schedule V substances are misdemeanors, which means the penalties are typically less severe.
Individuals that are charged with drug fraud may also be prosecuted for other drug offenses under Tennessee law, which could lead to more severe penalties. First-time offenders may be able to have their sentence suspended on the condition that they complete a rehabilitation program at an approved facility.
It’s important to consult with an attorney so that you can get a better understanding of the consequences you’re facing. With the aid of a skilled Nashville prescription fraud defense lawyer, you may be able to have your charges reduced or have your sentence suspended entirely.
What Are the Different Types of Federal Prescription Drug Fraud Charges?
In some cases, individuals that are arrested for prescription drug fraud in Tennessee may be charged in federal court. Federal law 21 U.S.C. 841 makes it a felony crime to manufacture, distribute, or possess controlled substances with the intention to distribute without a legitimate medical purpose.
Along the same lines, 21 U.S.C. 846 states that attempting or conspiring to commit these offenses is a crime.
Federal prosecution is more likely for cases that involve a higher number of units. The risk of federal prosecution also increases if you are transporting controlled substances across state lines. With that said, the decision to prosecute is typically at the discretion of prosecutors and federal law enforcement agencies.
Repeat offenses are more likely to lead to federal charges, as are crimes that take place of federal property. This is why you will need the expertise of a Nashville prescription fraud defense lawyer.
What Are the Different Types of Penalties for Federal Prescription Fraud?
Prescription drug overdoses have been on the rise, and because of this, the government has taken a harsh stance against prescription fraud. Penalties are likely to include fines and jail time and will vary based on the substances involved. Crimes involving Schedule I or Schedule II drugs are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while crimes involving Schedule III or Schedule IV substances face up to 10 years in prison.
Crimes involving Schedule V substances are misdemeanors, but are still punishable by up to one year of jail time. In some cases, there are statutory minimum sentences for criminal convictions, which makes it all the more important that you have appropriate legal representation. In addition to fines and jail time, you’ll face a number of other potential penalties if convicted, including:
- A criminal record
- Asset seizure or forfeiture
- Federal program exclusion
- License suspension or revocation
You should contact a Nashville prescription fraud defense lawyer immediately if you have reason to believe you will be charged with a federal offense in the future. If you’ve been contacted by federal agents, have received a subpoena, or have been arrested by a federal officer, you need legal representation sooner rather than later. The right attorney can help you build the strongest possible defense, which will lead to a better outcome for you.
How Can a Nashville Prescription Fraud Defense Lawyer Help Me?
In most cases, prescription fraud is a felony offense. Being a felon can make it difficult for you to find housing and employment. You may be barred from seeking employment in certain fields or from owning a firearm. In Tennessee, convicted felons lose the right to vote within the state and cannot have those rights restored until their sentence is complete and all costs and court fines are paid.
Thankfully, even though prescription drug fraud charges are serious, they don’t have to be life-ruining. Working with an experienced Nashville prescription fraud defense lawyer can help to minimize the impact that these charges have on your life. With the aid of a Nashville prescription fraud defense lawyer, you can be confident that your rights will be protected throughout this process.
Your lawyer can review your case and can talk you with your options. If you’re a first-time offender, your attorney could help you find court-approved drug rehabilitation programs, which can help to keep you out of jail. Furthermore, your lawyer can review the case to confirm that the prosecution has enough evidence to bring charges against you in the first place.
In most cases, prescription drug fraud is a felony offense, which is why you’ll want to take these charges as seriously as possible. Not only can a skilled Nashville prescription fraud defense lawyer help you avoid jail time, but they could help you to avoid a criminal record entirely. If you’re struggling with addiction to prescription medication, your attorney could even work with you to get the treatment that you need.
For a Free Case Evaluation, Contact Our Nashville Prescription Fraud Defense Lawyers Today
Prescription drug fraud can take many forms. It’s a serious offense, and in many cases, it is classified as a felony. If you’re facing criminal charges, it’s vitally important that you find the best available Nashville prescription fraud defense lawyer to represent you.
Nash Law can provide you with a free, detailed assessment of your case and talk you through potential outcomes. We’ll answer all your questions and provide you with the support that you need. We’ll work to limit jail time and damage to your record so that you can rebuild your life. Reach out to a Nashville prescription fraud defense lawyer at 615-627-4529 today to find out more.