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Prescription fraud: Faking a doctor's signature

Prescription fraud is a serious crime in the United States. If you think about it, physicians spend years in school to earn the right to prescribe medications to their patients. When someone signs a doctor's name fraudulently, it is not only an act that could hurt the individual or someone else but also a direct insult to the hard work a physician put into his or her career.

While you may not think you're hurting anyone by creating a prescription or signing one fraudulently, that couldn't be further from the truth. In reality, you're committing a federal crime and could end up hurting or killing yourself or someone else. If the prescription appears legitimate, the physician who allegedly wrote it could face allegations as well.

Why is falsifying a prescription a crime?

The primary reason is because you don't have a license, the education or accreditation to do so. A prescription isn't just a simple note telling the pharmacy which medication to fill. It's a piece of medical literature containing vital information such as the date of issue, drug name, the strength required, the quantity prescribed, the number refills you may receive and the overall directions for use. An authorized physician may sign this document, not anyone else.

How is a prescription drug crime penalized in Virginia?

Altering or forging a prescription is a Class 6 felony in Virginia. If the court is satisfied that the person altered or forged a prescription to obtain marijuana, narcotics, depressants, stimulants or hallucinogenics but has no history of violations, the person may be placed on probation instead of incarcerated. That's good news for you if you're facing this drug crime.

In addition to that, the court may evaluate you and determine if you need to enter a drug education program or drug treatment program. The court decides which you attend based on the needs it believes you have. For example, if you forged the prescription because of an addiction and withdrawal, it would be most helpful to send you for drug addiction treatment.

The benefit of following directions if you're given this alternative to incarceration is that the once felony may now become a Class 1 misdemeanor, a much less serious crime on the books. This is something to look into if you're accused of a drug crime, since a misdemeanor carries less weight than a felony on your criminal record and may have less of an impact on your life.

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