Archives : 2011 : January
The misuse of taking or prescribing a controlled substance through misrepresentation, fraud, deceit, forgery or burglary is a crime of prescription drug fraud under California Health and Safety Code Sections 11172 through 11175, 11153 through 11157 or 11368. Often persons with drug addictions may be involved in prescription drug fraud by either purchasing or obtaining a controlled substance such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, Methadone, Percodan, Ritalin and Xanax in an illegal manner in order to make money or for their own use. For instance, stealing your doctor’s prescription pad and forging your doctor’s signature in order to authorize a prescription, adjusting your doctor’s prescription by changing the quantity or dosage of the prescription, using a computer to create a false prescription or doctor shopping by using multiple doctors and pharmacies to obtain prescriptions of the same drug without each doctor’s and/or pharmacy’s knowledge are all examples of crimes of prescription drug fraud. Doctors who commit prescription drug fraud by writing prescriptions for medical purposes that are not considered legitimate or treating an addict outside professional treatment may lose their licenses, have to pay large fines and face jail time if they are convicted of prescription drug fraud.
Penalties and Fines
Prescription drug fraud may be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense in California, and the penalties may include state prison or county jail time, probation, fines, community service, drug counseling or rehabilitation. Doctors that are convicted of prescription drug fraud under Health and Safety Code Sections 11153 and 11154 face losing their licenses, prison time in state prison up to three years or county jail up to one year and fines not exceeding $20,000. Persons convicted under Section 11173 of doctor shopping face jail time in the county jail up to one year or up to three years in a California state prison.
According to an amended accusation filed on December 21, 2010, by the Medical Board of California, Yuba City physician Jeffrey Lawrence Phillips of North Valley Neurological Associates, 1215 Plumas St., allegedly prescribed Abien, Restoril and Naxanx for himself by using another doctor’s name. Dr. Phillips had been convicted in a Sacramento County Superior Court and sentenced to five years probation, including jail time, for Medicare and Medi-cal fraud in August 2008. At that time, he agreed to pay approximately $83,000 in restitution. During 2006 and 2008 while working for nursing homes, Phillips submitted false claims for payment and signed patients’ progress reports for patients who had died or had been discharged according to the Board’s documents. A hearing is scheduled on March 1, 2011 regarding his medical license. Dr. Phillips also provides medical marijuana evaluations under the name North Valley Wellness Center which shares the same address as the North Valley Neurological Associates. Dr. Phillips refused to talk about the allegations when asked on January 6, 2011.
In September 2009, Dr. Phillips told a Board investigator that his neighbor, physician Richard Joseph Brouette, occasionally prescribed medications for him. Dr. Brouette told investigators that he only prescribed a refill for Ambien one time, and that Phillips only became a patient in July 2010. During the time period March 2005 and January of 2010, Phillips allegedly improperly obtained 1,340 tablets of Ambien. At an evaluation in October, Phillips made false statements to a psychiatrist stating that he never used another physician’s name to authorize prescription medicine refills without that physician’s knowledge.
Parents, teachers and law enforcement officers in Santa Monica, CA are concerned about the 35 drug arrests made so far during January 2011 at Santa Monica High. The number is 17 more than the all of 2010. The majority of the arrests have been for illegal prescription drug use. Officials reported that the arrests involved students of different ages, races and ethnic backgrounds, and officials have no explanation for the increase in illegal prescription drug use. The school is focusing on educating parents to keep their medications away from their children and how to recognize the signs of drug abuse. A parent whose 14 year old daughter was arrested for taking Ecstasy suggested that the school bring in drug sniffing dogs to find the students who are selling and using drugs, but school board member Oscar de la Torre is against this practice.
If you have been arrested of a prescription drug fraud offense, you should hire a California criminal defense attorney to defend you. The attorney may be able to get your charges reduced, especially if there was entrapment involved, get the case dismissed or have your sentence reduced to rehabilitation, probation or community service.
If you possess codeine without a valid prescription, or intend to sell or transport or move codeine, you are committing a codeine drug offense crime Under California Health and Safety Code Sections 11350, 11351 and 11352. It is also illegal to possess other controlled substances such as cocaine, opiates and opiate derivatives, heroin, peyote, gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (“GHB”) under California Health and Safety Code Section 11350. You face jail time and fines up to $20,000 if you are convicted of any codeine related drug offenses. If eligible, you may be able to participate in the California drug diversion program if you are charged with possession of codeine under Health and Safety Code Section 11350 or Health and Safety Code Section 11550, instead of serving time in a state prison. After successfully completing the program, you would qualify to have your drug charges dismissed.
It is also illegal and considered a misdemeanor crime if convicted for driving under the influence of codeine under Vehicle Code Section 23152a. Illegal immigrants, who are convicted of any California codeine offense, are subject to removal and deportation under U.S. Code 1227.
Penalties and Fines for Possession of Codeine Under Sections 11350 and 11550
If you are found guilty of violating California’s personal possession of codeine law under Code Section 11350, which includes possessing codeine without a valid prescription, possessing someone else’s codeine, or having codeine prescriptions which obtained from multiple California doctors without their knowledge above each prescription or possess more than the prescribed amount, you could receive 16 months to three years in the California state prison and a maximum fine of up to $20,000.
Under Section 11550 of the Health and Safety Code, if you are convicted of a misdemeanor for being under the influence of codeine or codeine mixed with another medication including Tylenol or cough syrup, you face possible jail time as well.
You may be eligible to participate in the California drug diversion program instead if you are convicted under Sections 11350 or 11550.
Penalties and Fines for Intending to Sell or Transport Codeine under Sections 11351 and 11352
If prosecutors prove you possessed or purchased codeine with the intent to sell it instead of your own personal use, this is considered a more serious crime under Section 11351, you face two to four years jail time in a California state prison and fines up to $20,000. Under Section 11352, transporting, selling or moving codeine is the most serious codeine crime. If convicted, you face three to five years jail time in a California state prison and fines up to $20,000. You are not eligible for the drug diversion program for convictions under Sections 11351 or 11352.
A Hanford police investigation, with the help of an undercover law enforcement agent disguised as a high school student, resulted in the arrests of 10 high school students ages 6 to 18 on Wednesday January 12, 2011. Charges against students range from for possession of a controlled substance for sale, conspiracy, accessory to a crime and, for some, membership in a street gang. Nine students were arrested on the Hanford West High School Campus, and one student was arrested at Hanford High campus. Police Chief Carlos Mestas of the Hanford Police Department said the use of the undercover police officer, who registered in November as a 16 year old high school student and starting attending classes at the high school, helped solve a big obstacle for police, which is getting juveniles to talk to adults about who is dealing drugs. The investigation resulted from complaints by parents and school officials in October 2010 of high school students selling drugs to other students. The undercover officer bought drugs 13 times from 10 people on and off campus, including drugs such as marijuana, Ecstasy, Vicodin, methamphetamine, codeine and other prescription drugs. According to Chief Mestas, prescription drug use by juveniles is a growing problem. He urged parents to check their prescription drug bottles for pilfering. He believes that their recent police bust is a good deterrent for students to stop selling and using drugs on campus.
If you have been charged with a California codeine drug related offense, you should contact a California criminal defense attorney immediately to defend you. The attorney may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed by raising defenses such as mistaken identity because the codeine belonged to another person, illegal search and seizure by police or other illegal police conduct at the time of the arrest. The attorney may be able to get your into a drug diversion program under Proposition 36 or other alternative California sentencing programs or you get you probation.
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