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Illegal Drug Document

Abuse of prescription drugs is a serious problem in the United States. The rates of people dying from prescription drug overdoses — particularly from narcotic pain medicines — has skyrocketed over the last 15 years, and lawmakers have taken steps to try to crack down on prescription drug abuse.

One of those steps was to enact a law making it a serious crime in Ohio to possess or traffic in fake or forged prescriptions. When you’re charged with of one of the offenses defined as illegal processing of drug documents, you’re facing a possible conviction for a felony drug crime, with consequences that will affect the rest of your life. You may serve prison time, lose your driver’s license, have to pay thousands of dollars in fines, and be permanently labeled a felony drug offender.

If you’ve been charged with illegal processing of drug documents, you’re going to need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you want to avoid some of the more serious consequences of a conviction. A good Columbus defense lawyer can look at the facts and evidence with a unique perspective and find a defense strategy that may get your case dismissed, or advocate on your behalf to try to get your penalties reduced.

What is Illegal Processing of Drug Documents?

Ohio Rev. Code 2925.23 defines several offenses related to the illegal possession or processing of prescription documents. Under this statute, it’s a crime to:

  • Knowingly make a false statement in any prescription or drug order
  • Intentionally make, utter, or sell a false or forged prescription, preprinted blank prescription, official written order, distribution license, or distributor certificate
  • Knowingly possess a false or forged prescription, preprinted blank prescription, official written order, terminal distribution license, or wholesale distributor certificate
  • Acquire by theft a prescription, blank prescription, official written order, blank official written order, license or blank license for a terminal drug distributor, registration or blank certificate for a wholesale drug distributor
  • Knowingly make or affix a false or forged lable to a package or receptacle containing drugs

If you are suspected of committing any one of those offenses, you may be charged in Ohio with illegal processing of drug documents.

Penalties for Illegal Drug Document Offenses

Illegal processing of drug documents is a felony crime, but the category of felony depends on which of the forms of the offense you are alleged to have committed, and may be affected by the type of drug involved.

Illegal processing of drug documents is a fifth-degree felony, with a possible sentence of 6 to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500, when you:

  • Make, sell, or possess a blank prescription, terminal distributor license, or wholesale distributor certificate
  • Acquire by theft a blank prescription, blank official written order, blank terminal distributor license, or blank wholesale distributor certificate
  • Knowingly make a false statement regarding a prescription or order for Schedule III, IV, or V drugs or marijuana
  • Make, sell, or possess a false or forged prescription or official written order for a Schedule III, IV, or V drug or marijuana

Illegal processing of drug documents is a fourth-degree felony, with a possible sentence of 6 to 18 months and a fine of up to $5,000, when you:

  • Knowingly make a false statement regarding a prescription or order for a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance other than marijuana
  • Make, sell, or possess a false or forged prescription or official written order for a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance other than marijuana

Other Consequences for an Illegal Drug Documents Conviction

Ohio law provides that a court may suspend or revoke your driver’s license when you’re convicted of any form of illegal processing of drug documents. You won’t be allowed to drive — including for your job if you hold a commercial driver’s license — for the duration of the suspension or revocation, and may face stiff penalties if you drive under suspension and are pulled over.

The statute also requires that a court report your conviction to any professional licensing board that issued you a license to practice your profession in Ohio. If you’re a doctor, nurse, dentist, pharmacist, or any other kind of health professional, a conviction related to an illegal prescription likely means at least a suspension, but could spell the end of your career.

Because illegal processing of drug documents is a felony, a conviction means a permanent record as a felony drug offender. Ways that may affect your life include:

  • You may be unable to get a job when potential employers learn about your conviction in a background check
  • You may be unable to rent an apartment when your conviction shows up on a background check
  • You may be unable to get admitted to a college or university, and may be unable to get federal financial aid to pay for school
  • If you’re already a college student, you may lose your federal financial aid
  • If you’re not an American citizen, a felony drug conviction may result in denial of a visa or work permit and deportation to your home country

Possible Defenses to an Illegal Drug Documents Charge

When you’re accused of illegal processing of drug documents, a prosecutor msut prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction. The elements of the offense will vary somewhat depending on which form of the offense is the basis for your charge. For example, if you’re charged with knowingly possessing a false or forged prescription or order, then the prosecutor has to prove each and every one of the following:

  • You were in possession of a prescription or order
  • The prescription or order was falsified or forged
  • You knew the prescription or order was falsified or forged

What if you didn’t know? What if you genuinely believed the prescription was legitimate and you had no idea that the doctor’s signature had been forged? Then you may have a defense to the charge. You also may have a defense if the document turns out to be legitimate and was not in fact falsified or forged.

An experienced Columbus defense lawyer can evaluate the facts and evidence in your case, hear your side of the story, and discuss your options for a defense strategy. In addition to attacking the facts the prosecutor claims support the charge, your Columbus defense lawyer also will look at the investigation process for ways that your rights may have been violated. When your rights have been violated, it may be possible to prevent evidence gathered using illegal means from being used against you in court, which in turn may open the door for your lawyer to get your case dismissed or your charge reduced. Some common ways that defendants’ rights are violated during investigations or arrests include:

  • The police found evidence against you during an illegal search, such as conducting a search of you or your property without a warrant and without probable cause
  • The police found evidence against you during an illegal stop
  • The police had no reasonable suspicion to arrest you
  • The police used illegal wiretapping or surveillance to obtain evidence against you
  • The police didn’t properly administer your Miranda rights

Get In Touch

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Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP
580 E Rich St Fl 2
Columbus, OH 43215-5335
advice@columbuscriminalattorney.com

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