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Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Fraud

The United States has seen a rapid increase in prescription drug abuse throughout the last two decades. The use of painkillers, sedatives, stimulants and other prescribed medications as recreational drugs has increased dramatically. In Florida, it is illegal for someone to be in actual or constructive possession of prescription drugs unless they have legal permission, such as a prescription from a doctor.

Florida Statute § 893.13(7)(a) makes it illegal to obtain a controlled substance by fraud, subterfuge, deception, forgery or misrepresentation. This offense often is called “prescription fraud” or “doctor shopping” in Florida. Prescription drug fraud charges are serious and can carry steep penalties.

Prescription Drug Fraud Defense Attorney

If you are charged with any felony drug offense, such as obtaining a prescription drug by fraud or doctor shopping, contact an experienced Tallahassee drug defense lawyer at Pumphrey Law. Our attorneys represent clients in prescription drug cases throughout Leon County and the surrounding areas.

The attorneys at Pumphrey Law also have experience representing college students charged with prescription drug crimes at local colleges and universities, including Florida State University and Florida A&M University. Call (850) 681-7777 for a free consultation to discuss your best defense.


Information About Prescription Drug Fraud Charges in Florida


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Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Fraud Under Florida Law

Obtaining a controlled substance by fraud is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Law enforcement officers look for the following types of schemes to obtain drugs by fraud:

  • Altering or counterfeiting a prescription
  • Stealing prescription pads
  • Calling in fake prescriptions to a pharmacy
  • Using multiple doctors to obtain additional prescriptions within a short period of time, also known as “doctor shopping”

The elements of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors must prove the defendant acquired, obtained or attempted to acquire or obtain possession of a certain controlled substance.

It also must be proved the defendant acquired, obtained, or attempted to obtain the substance by fraud, subterfuge, deception, forgery or misrepresentation. In addition, it must be proved the defendant had knowledge of the illicit nature of the controlled substance.

Obtaining a prescription by fraud is classified as a Level 3 offense under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code, which ranks offenses by severity for sentencing purposes on the score sheet.


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Penalties for Prescription Drug Fraud

In Florida, obtaining a prescription by fraud, such as tampering with an existing prescription, is a third-degree felony, which also is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

This means even if the person did not acquire the narcotics, but attempted to do so, he or she still could be charged. However, if the person does, in fact, get the prescription filled, he or she also could be charged with illegal possession of prescription drugs.

Possession of a prescription pad that has not been legally signed by the practitioner or doctor is considered a first-degree misdemeanor for the first offense, according to Florida Stat. 893.13 (7)(a).

Conviction of a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida could mean up to one year in prison, a $1,000 fine or both. Subsequent offenses are third-degree felony prescription fraud, which can carry up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000


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Finding a Prescription Drug Fraud Lawyer in Tallahassee

If you were arrested for obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, also known as “doctor shopping” or “prescription fraud,” contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tallahassee at Pumphrey Law. Our attorneys represent clients on serious drug crimes throughout Leon County and the surrounding areas in North Florida. Call (850) 681-7777 for a free consultation to discuss the charges and your best defense.


This article was last updated August 5, 2016.