call us
(832) 752-5972
24/7 FREE CONSULTATION
Request Consultation

What You Didn’t Know about Prescription Drugs Charges in Texas

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

What You Didn’t Know about Prescription Drugs Charges in Texas

  • Comments Off on What You Didn’t Know about Prescription Drugs Charges in Texas

Most people believe that because prescription medicines are legal, they can’t get into trouble if they obtain these drugs through illegal means. Unfortunately, getting convicted of a prescription drugs-related crime can mean a multiple year prison sentence.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the most commonly illegally obtained and/or used prescription medicines include Demerol, Xanax, morphine, Adderall, codeine, Valium, Vicodin. and Oxycontin.

If you or someone close to you is facing prescription drug charges, it’s critical to take these charges seriously. Contact a Houston drug crimes defense lawyer now.

Have you been charged with a prescription drug related crime?
Schedule a consultation with experienced drug attorney Greg Tsioros
»

Prescription Drug Fraud

What constitutes prescription drug fraud in the state of Texas?

Texas Health and Safety Code Ann. Section 481.129 states that an individual may be charged with prescription drugs fraud if he or she knowingly and intentionally 1) uses a suspended, fictitious, or revoked registration manufacturer, distributor, or prescription number to prescribe controlled substances, 2) issues prescriptions for drugs using a fictitious or forged signature, 3) uses another person’s prescriber number to issue a Schedule II drug prescription, 4) attempts to possess or possesses one or more controlled substances (an a larger amount of controlled substances by electronic or oral deception, misrepresentation, forgery, or fraud, 5) produces or falsifies applications, reports or documents to prescribe or obtain controlled drugs and substances, and/or 6) delivers a prescription form or prescription for a purpose other than for valid medical purposes.

An individual may also face a prescription drug fraud charge if he or she makes, distributes, or possesses anything designed to reproduce, print, or imprint trademarks, identifying marks, or names of a controlled substance (or containers/labels of controlled substances) with the intention to make counterfeit controlled substances.

Prescription Drug Fraud Penalties in Texas

If convicted of prescription drug fraud, the offender faces second-degree felony charges when the matter involves Schedule 1 or II drugs:

  • The punishments for a second-degree felony offense in Texas include a two to 20-year prison sentence and/or significant fines up to $10,000.

He or she may face third-degree felony charges in Texas if the controlled drug substance is considered a Schedule III/IV drug.

  • The punishments for a third-degree felony offense in Texas include a two to 10-year prison sentence and/or a maximum $10,000 fine.

He or she may face a Class A misdemeanor charge if the substance involved is considered a Class V drug.

  • Punishments for a Class A misdemeanor in Texas may include a one-year jail sentence and/or a maximum $4,000 fine.
Examples of prescription drug fraud in Texas

Prescription drug fraud may result if a user obtains or tries to obtain prescription medicines illegally in several ways, including:

  1. Script forgery. This may occur when an individual steals prescription slips from a doctor’s prescription notebook or pad. He or she may also face prescription forgery charges if a computer (or other type of equipment was used) to make or forge prescriptions. For instance, the offender uses this kind of prescription drug fraud to write himself or herself (or even a fictitious person) a prescription. Cleaning personnel, patients, or medical staff often commit this type of fraud crime.
  2. Prescription alteration. This type of drug fraud may occur when a person alters a physician’s legal prescription to up the quantity, refills, dose or strength, or add other drugs to the script. This type of fraud is often committed by patients who are addicted to narcotics or drugs.
  3. Provider shopping. Because physicians must lawfully and ethically limit the quantities and types of medicines they prescribe to their patients, the offending patient typically schedules a variety of doctor visits at several locations to get narcotics prescriptions. In this type of fraud, the offender may fail to disclose, misrepresent, or otherwise decide the physician about the fact that he or she already receives the medicine and/or has other available prescriptions.
  4. Provider impersonation. Medical staff impersonation is another way to commit prescription medicine fraud in the state of Texas. For example, the patient or another person contacts a drug store pretending to be employed by a doctor’s office. He or she requests that the pharmacy fill a prescription and then supplies his or her personal phone number as the call back number needed to confirm it.

DEA statistics show that many individuals become chemically dependent on controlled substances or prescription drugs after receiving the medication to treat post-injury, surgical pain, etc. When the original prescription or number of refills is exhausted, some patients seek illegal methods to get these drugs.

If you or someone you care about is facing a misdemeanor or felony fraud charge relating to prescription drugs, consult with a knowledgeable prescription drug fraud lawyer as soon as possible.

Types of controlled substances and/or prescription medicines obtained by fraud

As above, pain relievers, benzodiazepines, and stimulants are most often illegally obtained:

  • Pain relievers, including Percocet, Vicodin (hydrocodone), morphine, Oxycontin (oxycodone), and Soma are often illegally obtained by individuals addicted to pain medicines and opiate drugs. Many individuals find they must increase the original dosage to get the same level of relief.
  • Benzodiazepines are a drug class used to manage sleep disorders or anxiety. This class of drugs also includes muscle relaxers. Examples include Valium, Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin (clonazepam).
  • Stimulants are a drug class used to treat attention or hyperactivity disorders or attention deficit disorders (ADD, ADHD), such as Ritalin, Adderall, or other kinds of amphetamines.

These types of medicines are frequently reported as stolen or otherwise obtained through fraudulent means.

Contact experienced drug attorney Greg Tsioros today »

Texas Statutes and Prescription Drug Charges

The following prescription drug offenses are described in the Texas Health and Safety Code Sections 481.112 – 481.114. Offenses and punishments are based on the drug (Schedule number) and the amount of controlled substance that was involved in an offense.

The list of drugs (Schedules 1, 1-A, 2-5) is found in Section 481.032 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.

If convicted of:

  1. Manufacture/delivery of drugs (controlled substances) in Texas: The offender faces at least 180 days and up to two years in jail and/or significant fines as a minimum punishment and from 15 years to 99 years in prison plus a maximum $250,000 fine.
  2. Possession of drugs (controlled substances) in Texas: The offender faces at least 180 days and/or up to $2,000 in fines and maximum punishments of 10 years to 99 years (life in prison) plus a maximum $250,000 fines.
  3. Delivery of marijuana in Texas: The offender faces a minimum 180 days in jail and/or a $2,000 fine and maximum punishments of 10 – 99 years behind bars and a maximum $100,000 fine.
  4. Possession of marijuana in Texas: The offender faces at least 180 days in jail and/or a $2,000 fine and maximum punishments of five to 99 years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.

Texas Health and Safety Code Section 481.115 references Penalty Group 1 (cocaine, ketamine, heroin, gamma hydroxbutyric acid (GHB), methamphetamine, flunitrazepam, morphine, oxycodone) offenses:

  • Less than one gram is considered a state jail felony
  • Greater than one gram (but less than four grams) is considered a third-degree felony
  • Greater than four grams (but less than 200 grams) is considered a second-degree felony
  • Greater than 200 grams (but less than 400 grams) is considered a first-degree felony
  • Greater than 400 grams translates to life imprisonment (or a prison term of 10 – 99 years plus a significant fine.

Texas Health and Safety Code Section 481.1151 references Penalty Group 1A (LSD) offenses:

  • Less than 20 abuse units is considered a state jail felony
  • Greater than 20 abuse units (but less than 80) is considered a third-degree felony
  • Greater than 80 abuse units (but less than 4,000) is considered a second-degree felony
  • Greater than 4,000 abuse units (but less than 8,000) is considered a first-degree felony
  • Greater than 8,000 abuse units translates to 15 – 99 years in prison and a significant fine (or life imprisonment)

Texas Health and Safety Code Section 481.116 references Penalty Group 2 (Marinol, Ecstasy, Phencyclidine, Mescaline) offenses:

  • Less than one gram (but less than four grams) is a third-degree felony
  • Greater than four grams (but less than 400 grams) is considered a second-degree felony
  • Greater than 400 grams translates to life in prison (or a prison term of 5 – 99 years plus a significant fine)

Texas Health and Safety Code Section 481.117 references Penalty Group 3 (Hydrocodone, >300 mg., Valium, Ritalin, Xanex) offenses:

  • Less than 28 grams is considered a Class A misdemeanor
  • Greater than 28 grams (but less than 200 grams) is considered a third-degree felony
  • Greater than 200 grams (but less than 400 grams) is considered a second-degree felony
  • Greater than 400 grams means a 5 – 99 year prison term (life imprisonment) plus a significant fine

Texas Health and Safety Code Section 481.118 references Penalty Group 4 (Pyrovalerone, Dionine, Buprenorphine, Motofen) offenses:

  • Less than 28 grams is considered a Class B misdemeanor
  • Greater than 28 grams (but less than 200 grams) is considered a third-degree felony
  • Greater than 200 grams (but less than 400 grams) is considered a second-degree felony
  • Greater than 400 grams means 5 – 99 years (life imprisonment) and a significant fine
Aggravating factors

Aggravating factors may increase the punishments for an offense. In general, the rule-of-thumb is that a single aggravating factor enhances the offender’s punishment one level.

Examples of aggravating factors include 1) possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance or drug with intent to distribute or 2) possession of a controlled substance or drug in a drug-free zone.

When Prescription Drugs Become a Problem

Medical researchers know that some patients become addicted to their prescription medicines after a serious injury, illness, or hospital stay. After the doctor discontinues the patient’s painkillers, some patients turn to prescription fraud to get the drugs they now believe are necessary.

It’s important to understand that many people facing prescription fraud charges or the illegal possession of controlled substances aren’t career criminals. Instead, these are people who need the advocacy of an experienced Texas prescription drug defense lawyer.

Addiction to prescription drugs affects people of all ages and in all walks of life, including college and university students across the state of Texas. Some students turn to selling painkillers or stimulant drugs to others to make money.

Don’t face prescription drug charges alone.

If you or someone close to you is facing prescription drug charges in Texas, contact The Law Office of Greg Tsioros in Houston at 832-752-5972 to schedule an initial case review.

Comments are closed.