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Forging Drug Prescriptions

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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

John Sutton

What are the offences?

Section 15 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act makes it illegal to:

  • forge or fraudulently alter a prescription; and
  • use a forged or fraudulent prescription.

It is also an offence under section 16 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act to:

  • Make any false representations to obtain a prescription; and
  • Be in possession of a prescription which is forged, altered or was based on false representations.

The maximum penalty for these offences is 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of 20 penalty units. Possible penalties include:

Sentencing statistics show that the most common penalty is a section 9 good behaviour bond (which can contain conditions such as reporting and drug testing). Prison sentences are handed down in approximately 13% of cases in the Local Court.

What is a forged prescription?

A document which is made to look like a legitimate prescription or a prescription completed by someone other than the medical practitioner, nurse, midwife or vet authorised to give the prescriptions.

Examples of forged prescriptions include:

  • Making a fake prescription from scratch;
  • Stealing a prescription pad and completing the details yourself; or
  • Asking someone else to complete a prescription of another medical practitioner, nurse, midwife or vet.

What is a fraudulently altered prescription?

Any prescription which is changed by someone other than the medical practitioner, nurse, midwife or vet that issued the prescription.

Examples include:

  • Using a pen to change the number of repeats of a prescription to get more of the drug;
  • Using a printer to add additional drugs to the prescription; or
  • sing a sticker to change the expiry date of the prescription.

What is a fraudulently obtained prescription?

A prescription which is only obtained because of false, incorrect or misleading information.

Examples include:

  • Making up fake symptoms and exagerating illness to your doctor in order to obtain a prescription for a drug which you don't need;
  • Sending your sister or someone else to the doctor to obtain a prescription in your name for her medical condition; or
  • Presenting your doctor with fake, false or someone elses test results in order to obtain a prescription.

What are the elements the prosecution must prove?

To convict you of forging a drug prescriptions (s 15) the prosecution must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that you forged or altered a drug prescription.

To convict you of using a forged or fraudulent prescription (s 15), the prosecution must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that:

  • You used a prescription; and
  • The prescription was forged or fraudulently altered; and
  • You knew that the prescription was forged or fraudulently altered.

To convict you of making false representations to obtain a prescription (s 16) the prosecution must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that you:

  • Made representations to a medical practitioner, nurse, midwife or vet to obtain a prescription;
  • Those representations were false; and
  • You knew that those representations were false.

To convict you of being in possession of a forged prescription (s 16) the prosecution must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that you:

  • Were in possession of a forged, fraudulently altered or falsely obtained prescription; and
  • You knew the prescription was forged, altered or falsely obtained.

Other offences

It is also an offence to:

  • S 17 – obtain or attempt to obtain drugs from a medical practitioner, nurse, midwife, dentist, pharmacist or vet by any false representation; and
  • S 18 – obtain or attempt to obtain drugs or a prescription without informing the medical practitioner, nurse, midwife, dentist, pharmacist or vet of the drugs obtained within the past 2 months in order to deceive the person.

The maximum penalty for these offences is 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of 20 penalty units.

THE DANGERS OF COMPLETING A WRITTEN NOTICE OF PLEADING:

The form seems straight forward and can seem to be an attractive alternative to attending court in person. However using them can be a very bad idea.

It is important to be wary of Police that convey to you that they you can simply complete the written notice instead of attending court. While technically true, it is not advisable. Not only does it reflect poorly on you but you can be convicted and sentenced in your absence with little chance to advocate your case. Read More >


where to next?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

Why Choose Armstrong Legal?

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