In Colorado, using fraud, deceit, or forgery to obtain prescription drugs is criminal prescription fraud. Prescription drug fraud is a level 4 drug felony, with penalties including 6 to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $100,000. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What is prescription fraud in Colorado?
- 2. Penalties for Prescription Fraud in Colorado
- 3. Defenses to Colorado Prescription Fraud Charges
- 4. Related Offenses
Any attempts to falsify or otherwise fraudulently fill a prescription is a criminal offense. Prescription fraud involves gaining access to prescription drugs through fraudulent means. It is prescription fraud in Colorado to obtain a controlled substance by:
- Forgery or alteration of a prescription;
- Concealment of a material fact;
- By using a fake name or fake address; or
- Make a false statement in any order, report or record in a prescription.1
Prescription drugs are controlled substances. A controlled substance is defined as a drug, substance, or immediate precursor included in schedules I through V under Colorado's drug laws.2 Prescription controlled substances include:
- Benzodiazepines (Xanax/Ativan/Klonopin)
- Anabolic steroids
Prescription fraud is a drug crime. Under Colorado law, individuals convicted of drug crimes face specific drug sentencing. Prescription fraud is a level 4 drug felony. The penalties for a conviction for prescription fraud include 6 to 12 months in jail and fines between $1,000 and $100,000. 3
A level 4 drug felony can result in increased penalties if committed under “aggravating factors.” This includes where the defendant was on parole at the time of the offense, on probation for another felony, or in confinement for a felony. Aggravated prescription fraud can result in 1 to 2 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Many people commit prescription drug fraud because of an addiction to opioids, or other highly-addictive drugs. If the defendant has a substance abuse problem, they may be able to seek treatment as an alternative to jail. Prescription drug fraud charges are eligible for Colorado's “wobbler” sentencing for low-level drug felonies. Upon successful completion of a drug treatment program and other court-ordered conditions, the court will vacate the felony drug conviction and enter a conviction for a level 1 drug misdemeanor.
The crime of prescription fraud requires that a person attempt to obtain or obtains controlled substances through fraud or deceit. When facing crimes of prescription fraud, a defendant may have a number of legal defenses, including:
- The prescription was actually valid
- The statements made to obtain the prescription were not false
- The label was not created to be false
- The defendant had the legal authority to obtain a controlled substance
Prescription fraud can lead to other related criminal charges. Prescription fraud often involves charges for drug possession or possession with the intent to sell. Prescription fraud may also involve criminal charges for forgery.
Unlawful possession of a controlled substance is a criminal offense in Colorado. Controlled substances include both recreational drugs and prescription medications. Drug possession can be charged as a level 4 drug felony, or a level 1 drug misdemeanor. Penalties for felony drug possession can include up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Selling, manufacturing, or dispensing a controlled substance is a criminal offense in Colorado. The penalties for unlawful sale of a controlled substance depends on the type of drug involved and the quantity of drugs. Charges range from a level 1 drug misdemeanor to a level 1 drug felony.
Forgery in Colorado involves altering or making fake documents with the intent to defraud. Prescription fraud may involve forging a prescription for medication. Forgery is a class 5 felony in Colorado, with penalties including 1 to 3 years in prison, and a fine of up to $100,000.
Call us for help...
If you were arrested for possession or sale of prescription drugs, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group. Our caring Colorado defense attorneys have many years of experience representing clients who have been charged with criminal drug offenses. We are among the best Colorado criminal defense attorneys to call. Contact us today for a free consultation by phone or in-person or in our Denver law office.
- C.R.S. 18-18-415
- C.R.S. 18-18-102(5)
- C.R.S. 18-1.3-401.5