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Secrets of the Texas Criminal Justice System and Your Rights
Several drug crimes in Texas relate to the creation of fake prescriptions, to the unauthorized use of prescriptions, or to the unauthorized possession of prescription forms. These charges are extremely serious and warrant the attention of a Lubbock drug lawyer as soon as possible.
Prescription Drug Requirements
Prescriptions for controlled substances must be written by licensed health care providers on an official, numbered prescription form. Only licensed health care providers and health care institutions (such as clinics and hospitals) are allowed to possess official prescription forms.
A written prescription must include:
- The date on which it is written;
- The name of the drug prescribed;
- The quantity prescribed;
- The diagnosis or intended use of the controlled substance (unless the person writing the prescription thinks it would not be in the patient’s best interests to include that information);
- Instructions for its use;
- The name, address, DEA registration number, and state license number of the health care provider who prescribed the drug;
- The signature of the person writing the prescription; and
- The name, address, and date of birth or age of the person to whom the drug was prescribed.
Prescriptions can be provided to a pharmacy orally. When that happens, the pharmacy must complete a prescription form.
Filing Drug Prescriptions In Texas
A copy of every prescription filled by a pharmacy for a Schedule II controlled substance must be filed with the Texas Department of Public Safety. That law has created concern among physicians that legitimate prescriptions will trigger inappropriate criminal investigations. A related concern is that physicians are reluctant to prescribe medications needed to manage pain effectively for fear that they will be accused of overprescribing narcotics.
Drug agents with the Texas Department of Public Safety Narcotics Service deny that they target physicians, but the concerns persist. Provided that a prescribing physician is licensed, accusations of overprescribing are usually addressed in professional disciplinary proceedings rather than criminal prosecutions. Every year, however, complaints investigated by the Department of Public Safety result in the filing of criminal charges against physicians.
Using or Creating Fraudulent or Unauthorized Prescriptions
Each of the following acts, if done knowingly, is a crime in Texas:
- Forging a prescription (including signing a fictitious signature to a prescription.)
- Altering a prescription by changing the quantity of the prescribed drug.
- Using a forged, fictitious, or altered prescription.
- Using a prescription that has been issued to another person.
- Making a fraudulent oral communication (usually by pretending to be a doctor) purporting to prescribe a drug for a patient.
- Engaging in any other form of fraud, misrepresentation, forgery, deception, or subterfuge to obtain a prescription or a drug that requires a prescription.
- Distributing a controlled substance that requires a prescription if no official prescription has been provided.
- Issuing a prescription using another person’s DEA registration number or a fictitious number.
Penalties For Creating Fraudulent or Unauthorized Prescriptions
The penalties for the crimes described above depend upon the Controlled Substance Schedule in which the drug is listed.
- If the prescription involves a drug listed in Schedule I or II, the crime is a second-degree felony punishable by a prison sentence of not less than 2 years or more than 20 years.
- If the prescription involves a drug listed in Schedule III or IV, the crime is a third-degree felony punishable by a prison sentence of not less than 2 years or more than 10 years.
- If the prescription involves a drug listed in Schedule V, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a jail sentence of not more than 1 year and/or a fine.
Unauthorized Delivery or Possession of a Prescription
Each of the following acts, if done knowingly or intentionally, is a crime:
- Delivering a prescription or prescription form without a valid medical purpose in the course of a professional practice;
- Possessing a prescription that was not given to the person who possesses it by a person who is authorized to prescribe the drug;
- Possessing an official prescription form unless the person is authorized to possess it.
Possession of a Prescription Penalties
The penalties for the crimes described above depend upon the nature of the crime.
- If the crime involves delivery of a blank prescription form or delivery of a prescription for a controlled substance listed in Schedule II, the crime is a second-degree felony punishable by a prison sentence of not less than two years or more than 20 years.
- If the crime involves delivery of a prescription for a controlled substance listed in Schedule III, IV, or V, the crime is a third-degree felony punishable by a prison sentence of not less than 2 years or more than 10 years.
- If the crime involves possession of a blank prescription form or possession of a prescription for a controlled substance listed in Schedule II or III, the crime is a state jail felony punishable by a state jail sentence of not less than 180 days or more than two years.
- If the crime involves possession of a prescription for a controlled substance listed in Schedule IV or V, the crime is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a jail sentence of not more than 180 days and/or a fine.