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Penalties for Forging a Prescription for Drugs

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. | Last updated on

Maybe it doesn't seem so bad, just a signature on a piece of paper. But it is bad. In fact, forging a prescription is a crime.

Some states have statutes specifically aimed at punishing the precise offense. And some just consider it plain old forgery. Either way, around the nation, it is illegal to falsify a prescription for drugs.

Falsifying a Prescription Is a Crime

A prescription is a certified note that indicates the decision to give drugs to an individual is supported by a doctor's license and predicated on education, examination, and continuing accreditation. It is not just any note.

That is why falsifying a prescription is a crime. Federal law requires the following in order for a prescription to be valid:

  • Date of Issue
  • Drug Name and Strength
  • Dosage of Each Pill
  • Quantity Prescribed
  • Directions for Use
  • Number of Refills, if any
  • Authorized Doctor's Signature

Taking Texas as an Example

Let's take a look at how the crime is treated in Texas, which has a statute aimed specifically at forged prescriptions. Altering or forging a prescription is a class B misdemeanor for a first-time offense.

The statute notes that it is a crime to either forge a signature or change the prescribed quantity of a "dangerous drug" in a prescription. Using a forged or fictitious prescription in any manner is a punishable offense in Texas, whether obtaining drugs by phone or in person. Issuing a false prescription is also a crime.

How It Is Done In Delaware

Delaware punishes prescription falsification under the general forgery statute. It is a class E felony.

The Delaware forgery statute, like the more targeted Texas law, also punishes actual prescription falsification and mere participation or use of an altered prescription. Any knowing alteration, possession, or use of an altered prescription is punished as a felony forgery.

Why Alteration Is a Crime

Controlled substances are just that, controlled. They are considered dangerous, and must be doled out in regulated doses. Prescription alteration is punished because it is an abstracted form of illegal drug dealing, an uncontrolled use of drugs. Don't do it, for your own safety ... and because it is a crime.

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