Fake & Fraudulent Drug Prescriptions in New York: The Crimes of Forgery and Criminal Possession of a Forged instrument

Maybe you stole a couple of sheets from a physician’s prescription pad and made out a completely fake prescription for drugs and medicine such as Vicodin, Oxycodone or OxyContin. Maybe you altered your doctor’s legitimate prescription by increasing the dosage or amount of Xanax, Adderall or Ritalin. Regardless of how the fraudulent prescription is drafted, as long as it is in fact altered you may face the “D” felonies of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree or Forgery in the Second Degree.

If you actually drafted, created or altered the prescription fraudulently, a likely charge you will face is Forgery in the Second Degree pursuant to New York Penal Law 170.10(5). Often times, however, the police and prosecutors do not catch the person in the act of the alteration. Instead, either a search of a vehicle, a person’s clothing or even the retrieval of the forged prescription from a pharmacist will result in a charge of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree pursuant to New York Penal Law 170.25. Regardless of which offense is charged, a conviction for these felonies is punishable by up to seven years in state prison.

The actual law is not as simple as presented above. For example, the prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the intent, for example, to deceive, injure or defraud another. Moreover, as it relates to a physician or doctor’s prescription in New York, there is specific language that governs both Forgery and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument. New York Penal Law sections 170.10(5) and indirectly 170.20 establishes that a person would be guilty of these crimes if the written instrument purports to be:

“A prescription of a duly licensed physician or other person authorized to issue the same for any drug or any instrument or device used in the taking or administering of drugs for which a prescription is required by law.”

It is worth noting in this entry that if you are successful in obtaining the prescription medicine and you no longer have the fraudulent prescription as it is in the possession of the pharmacist, you are not “safe” from prosecution. Assuming it can be established that you possessed that prescription earlier and provided it to the pharmacist, you can still be charged with one of these crimes. Moreover, although a different crime, if you are found in possession of a medicine that is also a controlled substance, you can face narcotics related charges. While simple possession may only be a misdemeanor (Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree) you may be charged with other offenses including Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree, a “B” felony, in the event the prosecution can establish you had the intent to sell the drugs.

This brief blog entry should make it overwhelmingly clear that accusations involving prescription drug abuse, prescription fraud and possession of controlled substance are all serious offenses in New York. While you may have a strong defense to these crimes that need to be vetted with your counsel, the road ahead will certainly be trying.

For further information on the crimes of New York Forgery, New York Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument and New York Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, please follow the highlighted links.

Founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors, the New York criminal defense attorneys at Crotty Saland PC represent the accused throughout the New York City region.

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