Unlawfully Obtaining Prescription Medicine or Controlled Substances (N.R.S. 453.391)
What does “taking or unlawfully obtaining” prescription pills imply? As per NRS 453.3911, no person shall unlawfully take, obtain, or attempt to take or obtain a controlled substance or prescription for a controlled substance from a manufacturer, wholesaler, pharmacist, physician, physician assistant, dentist, advanced practice registered nurse, vet, or any other person authorized to administer, dispense or possess controlled substances.
Even if undergoing treatment and being lawfully supplied with a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance from one practitioner, it is illegal to knowingly obtain any controlled substance or prescription for a controlled substance from another practitioner without disclosing that you are already being prescribed a controlled substance by the first practitioner.
Sound confusing? Our Las Vegas drug defense attorneys explain:
What Is Doctor Shopping?
A more common phrase to help explain the above is doctor shopping – the misuse of the medical system to obtain drugs that are medically inappropriate. When an individual is doctor shopping, they’re not seeking prescriptions for appropriate reasons or are using more than one provider to obtain the controlled substances without the multiple providers knowing about each other and the other prescriptions.
This sometimes occurs when an individual becomes addicted to pain pills that he/she may have legally obtained (for a good reason) months or years ago but have since become addicted to them. Sometimes, the original doctor takes the patient off the controlled substance, but the patient still wishes to take the substance, so they begin shopping for a new doctor willing to give them the drug.
Controlled Substances and Doctor Shopping
With doctor shopping, even though the individual was provided with a real prescription from a legitimate doctor, the act itself is still illegal because the individual did not medically need the drug and was instead addicted or simply looking for a “high.”
Doctor shopping can involve a variety of controlled substances, including opiates (Morphine, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone), stimulants (Ritalin, Adderall), depressants (Ambien, Xanax, Valium) and others.
Doctors are also held accountable to a high level of integrity when it comes to dealing with controlled substances. As per NRS 453.3812, doctors can not irresponsibly prescribe drugs to their patients, or they risk being charged with a crime.
This is because, obviously, the government does not want doctors acting as drug dealers and passing out controlled substances to people who do not require them.
Obtaining Another Person’s Prescription in Nevada
Another issue on this topic is when an individual illegally uses another person’s legally prescribed medications for themselves. Possession of a controlled substance without a valid prescription or doctor’s order is illegal and carries harsh penalties, including imprisonment and fines. It should go without saying that selling prescription medicines illegally is also a dangerous crime to commit with severe consequences. Let’s explore some of the consequences of possessing (not selling) prescription medications without having a prescription for the drugs:
- First or Second Offense: This is a Class E Felony in Nevada and may carry a sentence of 1-4 years in a Nevada prison. If facing this charge, an experienced attorney may be able to help you avoid jail by enrolling you in a drug education program or a rehabilitation program, assuming you do not have a prior record of drug offenses.
- Third Offense: This is a Class D Felony in Nevada and may carry a sentence of 1-4 years in a Nevada prison as well as a fine of up to $20,000. If facing this charge, an attorney may be able to help resolve the legal charges against you with the minimum amount of negative impact on your life and freedom. It’s always best to have an experienced, trusted attorney at your side when charged with a felony of any sort. The Nevada criminal justice system can be complex, and every case is different, depending on the specific circumstances.
Unlawfully Selling Prescription Drugs
The penalties for the unlawful sale of prescription drugs become even more severe. These consequences include:
- First Offense: A Class D Felony in Nevada, carrying a possible sentence of 1-4 years in prison and fines up to $5,000.
- Second Offense: A Class C Felony in Nevada and up to 1-5 years in prison, as well as fines up to $10,000.
- Third Offense: A Class C Felony in Nevada and up to 3-15 years in state prison and fines up to $20,000.
Note: These punishments are worse if the controlled substances were being sold or attempted to be sold to a minor.
Attorneys for Prescription Fraud in Nevada
There are many forms of prescription fraud. An individual may alter the number of pills written on a legitimate prescription. Or, they may call in a prescription themselves to the pharmacy, pretending to be a doctor. They may also try to obtain medications for the same controlled substance from multiple doctors (doctor shopping, as discussed earlier).
Each of those offenses is classified as a Class C Felony in Nevada and, if convicted, you could face 1-5 years in prison plus fines. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney may help to see if you instead are eligible for drug treatment or if you qualify for a deferred sentence. Contact our Las Vegas drug defense lawyers today for a free consultation.