Since about August of 2010 I’ve seen an uptick in the number of people charged with prescription fraud in Raleigh. The reason seems to stem from increased concern among law enforcement. In August, law enforcement was pressing the legislature to grant authority to allow police access to prescription databases so that they could determine whether people were abusing prescriptions.
Since that time, the number of arrests – and calls from people who have been charged with prescription fraud – has increased. At the same time, prosecutors have re-evaluated their approach to these crimes. In the past, many people accused of prescription fraud were eligible for felony drug diversion programs. These programs would allow them to enroll in drug treatment, perform community service, pay program costs, and stay out of trouble. At the conclusion of the year, these people who had been accepted into these programs would be eligible for a dismissal of the charges.
However, in recent months, prosecutors have created two programs – the one for non-medical providers which permits an outright dismissal of the felony prescription fraud charges upon successful completion of the diversion program. The second program is designed for medical providers. In cooperation with whatever licensing board – the Medical Board, the Nursing Board, etc. – the professional is required to complete that board’s substance abuse program. If the professional completes that program, the person may be able to keep his or her medical or nursing license. In addition, the person would be eligible for a misdemeanor conviction, which is vastly better than a felony conviction.
If a person accused of prescription fraud is not eligible for one of those two programs described above, there might be other possible resolutions. It’s important for someone accused of these crimes to keep two things in mind. First, do not talk about the facts of the case with anyone except the attorney. Do not talk to police without an attorney present.
Second, it’s important for the person to not commit additional acts of prescription fraud (or other kinds of criminal acts). If another pharmacy calls wanting you to pick up another prescription, do not go and do not attempt to get the prescription.