The crime of prescription fraud, also called doctor shopping, is defined by Secs 11173 and 11153 of the Health and Safety Code of California as the use of multiple providers and pharmacies to get multiple prescriptions for controlled substances, without the providers and the pharmacies about the other prescriptions. Another name for this crime is RX fraud.

Under this law, a person is prohibited from obtaining a prescription by fraud or through the concealment of a material fact. It also defines as illegal any act to obtain or attempt to obtain a prescription or controlled substances through fraud or concealment. Similarly, Sec 11173 includes any act or acts that attempts to obtain or obtains prescriptions for controlled substances through fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, subterfuge and concealment of a material fact.

The controlled substances covered under this law are as follows:

• Opiates, such as hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone and the like;
• Depressants, such as Xanax, Valium, Ambien and the like;
• Stimulants, such as Adderall, Ritalin and the like;

The law also covers physicians that are irresponsible in the dispensation of their prescriptions and those practitioners that divert controlled substances for illegitimate use. Sec 11153 of the California Health and Safety Code provides that a doctor cannot issue a prescription outside the usual course of the doctor’s practice for a medical purpose that is not legitimate, such as to an addict outside professional treatment.

Both these crimes are considered as “wobblers” or in legal parlance can be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the factual circumstances of the case and the criminal history of the accused. For violation of doctor shopping laws or Sec 11173 HSC, the imposable penalties are up to three (3) years in state prison or one (1) year in county jail. For violations of Sec 11153 HSC, the liability includes imprisonment of not more than one (1) year in a state or county prison facility and/or payment of a fine not exceeding $20,000.

The crime of prescription fraud is a serious matter in California. Should you be or know anyone facing any of these charges, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.