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Counterfeiting a Prescription Blank – Health & Safety Code 11162.5

Posted by Sam Israels | Jun 21, 2020

Prescription drug addiction is a major issue in California and a lot of drug addicts will do almost anything to get their prescription pills. It's not uncommon for some to make a counterfeit prescription pad in an attempt to trick a pharmacist to fill a prescription for their controlled substance.

Under California Health & Safety Code 11162.5, counterfeiting a prescription blank is a serious crime and could even result in felony charges.

HS 1162.5 is the statue used by prosecutors for those who counterfeit a prescription blank and it's typically a misdemeanor offense. It should be noted that it is also to crime to knowingly have possession of a counterfeit prescription blank.

A common example of a Health & Safety Code 11162.5 crime includes a situation where a person has an addiction to Oxycontin and is desperately trying to obtain more to support their habit.  So, they come up with a plan to use their own home personal computer in order to make duplicate copies of their own physician's prescription pad.

Next, they take a copy and write themselves a fake prescriptions and then attempts to have it filled at a pharmacy. In this example, this person could be charged with Health & Safety Code 11162.5 for producing a counterfeit prescription blank. A closely related California drug crime is Health & Safety Code 11368, forging a prescription for a narcotic drug.

An example of an HS 11368 crime could include a scenario where a person makes a doctor's visit for a physical. While they are being examined and the doctor becomes distracted, they look over and see there is a prescription pad sitting on the counter and decide to take of few pages off the pad. Later, they write a prescription to themselves, sign it, and then make an attempt fill it at a pharmacy.

California Health & Safety Code Section 11162.5 is a “wobbler” crime, which means the prosecutor has the discretion to file the case as either a misdemeanor or felony offense.

To give more useful information about counterfeiting a prescription blank charges, our Los Angeles criminal attorneys are providing an outline below.

HS 11162.5 Counterfeiting a Prescription Blank Definition

California Health and safety Code 11162.5 HS defines the crime of counterfeiting a prescription blank:

Any person who counterfeits a prescription blank purporting it to be an official prescription blank, or knowingly possesses over three counterfeited prescription blanks, shall be punished by county jail time.

You should take note from this definition that it's not only a crime to counterfeit a prescription blank, but it's also a crime to knowingly possess three or more.

The phrase “counterfeit” means to make an exact imitation of the prescription blank with intent to defraud or deceive.

Also, the phrase “prescription blanks” have different names, including a “pad” or “form,” but in the context of HS 1162.5, it means what a physician uses to authorize prescriptions for controlled substances.

To be convicted of counterfeiting a prescription blank in violation of California Health & Safety Code 11162.5, the prosecutor has to prove all the elements of the crime:

  • Defendant counterfeited a prescription blank purporting to be an official prescription blank that was prepared and issued by a licensed physician, or
  • Defendant knowingly possessed counterfeit prescription blanks.

You should also take note that there are different penalties that depend on the amount of counterfeit prescription blanks knowingly possessed.

Counterfeiting a Prescription Blank Penalties

Counterfeiting a prescription blank in violation of California Health and Safety Code 11162.5 is a “wobbler” crime, meaning the case can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony.

If you are convicted of an HS 11162.5 misdemeanor, the penalties include up to one year in the county jail and a fine.

If you are convicted of a felony case for producing or possessing four or more counterfeit prescription blanks, the penalties include up to three years in a California state prison and a fine

Possession or production of less than three counterfeit prescription blanks is a misdemeanor crime.

Related California Crimes

Health & Safety Code 11368 – Forging or altering a prescription
Health & Safety Code 11153 – Prescribing controlled substance without medical purpose
Health & Safety Code 11156 – Prescribing controlled substance to an addict
Health & Safety Code 11173 – Doctor shopping and prescription fraud
Penal Code 470 – Forgery

Health and Safety Code 11162.5 Defenses

If you were charged with counterfeiting a prescription blank as described under Health and Safety Code 11162.5, our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys can use a range of defense strategies in an effort to achieve a favorable outcome. We need to examine all the details in order to decide the most effective approach. Some common defenses include:

Lack of knowledge

Remember that the prosecutor has to prove you knowingly possessed a counterfeited prescription blank. This means they must prove you had had possession of one or that it was in your control. Perhaps we could argue you lacked knowledge and simply were not ware you were in possession of a counterfeited prescription pad.

Maybe it belonged to a friend and you didn't know it was a counterfeit.

Entrapment by Police

In these type of cases, many people are arrested during a police undercover sting operation. Law enforcement will pose as someone seeking to purchase counterfeit prescription pads. Depending on the circumstances, we could argue the police officer persuaded you into committing a crime you would have not otherwise committed. This is commonly known as “police entrapment”.

It might be possible to prove the undercover law enforcement officer acted improperly because they used coercion, harassment, pressure, or threats to persuade you to commit the crime.

If accused of California Health and Safety Code 11162.5, counterfeiting a prescription blank to obtain prescription drugs, call our Los Angeles criminal lawyers to take a look at the details and legal options moving forward.

Our defense lawyers have a record of success defending clients against all type of drug crimes. We will work aggressively to reduce the charges or get the case dropped. It's important to retain our firm early in the process as it can increase the chances of best possible outcome.

Through our prefiling intervention, it might be possible to prevent the formal filing or criminal changes be negotiating with the prosecutor.

Cron, Israels & Stark is criminal defense law firm of highly skilled lawyers located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. We also have an office located at 401 Wilshire Blvd #1200, Santa Monica, CA 90401.

About the Author

Sam Israels

Sam J. Israels is a Law Firm partner with the Law Offices of Cron, Israels, & Stark. Mr. Israels received his J.D. degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law. Mr. Israels also previously worked at the Los Angeles Office of the City Attorney. He is admitted to practice law in the State o...

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