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Doctor shopping may lead to criminal consequences

On Behalf of | Oct 30, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

If you have acute or chronic pain from a back injury, you may rely on prescription pain medication to get through your day. Unfortunately, if you take certain opioids or other substances, your body is likely to adapt over time. Eventually, you may need to take more medication to manage your pain effectively. 

In Virginia and around the country, doctors may only provide patients with limited quantities of prescription medication. If you visit more than one doctor to obtain pain pills, you may inadvertently violate the commonwealth’s prohibition against doctor shopping. 

Doctor shopping and prescription drug fraud

There is usually nothing inherently wrong with seeking a second medical opinion or visiting more than one doctor. If you use fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or subterfuge to obtain a prescription, though, you may satisfy the elements of Virginia’s doctor shopping law. 

A potential felony conviction

In the Old Dominion, doctor shopping may be a Class 6 felony. Upon conviction, you may face up to five years in jail, a $2,500 fine or both. There may be a variety of ways to defend yourself against doctor shopping charges, however. 

For example, you may be able to prove you did not engage in fraud, misrepresentation or any other type of prohibited conduct when seeking your prescription. 

Alternative sentencing options

Even if you do not have a valid defense, you may still be in luck. For first-time offenders, Virginia law provides a few alternative sentencing options. 

Drug courts and pretrial diversion programs may help you avoid a felony conviction for doctor shopping or other types of prescription drug fraud.