Prescription Drug Fraud: Legal Consequences and Defense Strategies

Prescription Drug Fraud: Legal Consequences and Defense Strategies

As a resident of Tennessee, it’s important you understand the laws around prescription drugs to avoid legal trouble.  The state closely monitors the distribution of controlled substances like painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants. Forged or altered prescriptions, stealing or selling prescription drugs that don’t belong to you, and doctor shopping to get multiple prescriptions are all considered prescription drug fraud.

The legal consequences are severe, but the good news is there are defense strategies that can help. You’ll want an experienced Nashville drug defense lawyer to investigate the details of your case and work to get charges reduced or dropped.

Common Charges for Prescription Fraud Crimes

Prescription drug fraud crimes typically come with one of several of the following charges:


Forging a prescription or altering an existing one to obtain controlled substances illegally is a felony in Tennessee. The penalties for forgery include hefty fines and years of jail time, especially if the fraud was for commercial purposes.

Fraudulent Use or Possession

Obtaining or possessing prescription drugs through fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation is illegal. Even if you have a valid prescription, using or possessing the medication for reasons other than prescribed is considered fraudulent and can lead to legal trouble.

Identity Theft

Stealing someone’s prescription or using their information to fraudulently obtain medication is identity theft, which is a serious criminal offense. The perpetrator can face fines, jail time, and a criminal record.

Doctor Shopping

Visiting multiple doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions for the same or similar controlled medications is illegal. Law enforcement monitors this behavior, and offenders face legal consequences like restricted access to doctors and pharmacies in addition to standard penalties.

Potential Penalties for Conviction of Prescription Fraud

If caught and convicted of prescription fraud in Tennessee, you may face harsh legal penalties. As with any criminal charge, the specific punishment will depend on the details of your case, but could include:

obtaining prescription drugs illegally is a crime


For a first offense, fines of up to $50,000 are possible. For subsequent convictions, fines increase to a maximum of $100,000. These hefty fines are meant to punish you for your illegal actions and deter others from committing similar crimes.

Jail Time

Prescription fraud is a felony in Tennessee, so jail time is definitely on the table. For a first conviction, you could face 1 to 6 years in prison. For repeat offenders or those accused of fraudulently obtaining controlled substances like opioids, sentences of up to 12 years are possible. A judge has the discretion to sentence you to probation instead of jail time for a first offense, but there’s no guarantee.

Loss of Licenses

If you’re a healthcare professional, conviction of prescription fraud will likely mean losing your license to practice. Even if you’re not in the medical field, you could face suspension of your driver’s license and other professional licenses. These collateral consequences underscore how seriously Tennessee takes this crime.

Building an Effective Legal Defense Against Prescription Fraud

Building an effective defense against prescription fraud charges starts with understanding the details of your case. Work closely with your Nashville criminal defense attorney to determine the specifics of the charges against you, as well as any mitigating factors that could strengthen your defense.

Challenge the Evidence

Prescription drug fraud cases often rely heavily on records from pharmacies, insurance companies, and physicians. Question the validity and accuracy of these records, as errors do occur. If records were obtained illegally, challenge their admissibility in court. Your attorney may be able to get charges reduced or dropped if critical evidence is found to be unreliable or inadmissible.

Argue Lack of Criminal Intent

To get a conviction, prosecutors must prove you acted with criminal intent to defraud. Argue that any errors were unintentional or that you lacked the requisite intent. For example, if you legitimately did not understand insurance policies or made an innocent mistake in filling a prescription, you may have a viable defense. Your attorney can argue that you did not willfully or knowingly commit fraud.

Seek Alternative Resolution

For first-time or low-level offenders, prosecutors and judges may be willing to consider alternative resolutions to avoid a criminal trial and conviction. Possibilities include pretrial intervention programs, rehabilitation programs, community service, or dropping charges in exchange for restitution payments.

Are You Fighting a Prescription Drug Fraud Case? Contact Byron Pugh Today!

Defending yourself against prescription drug fraud charges is extremely difficult and complex. There are many nuances in Tennessee’s controlled substance laws that only an experienced Nashville drug defense lawyer will understand. Trying to represent yourself will likely end badly.

Reach out to attorney Bryon Pugh today at 615-857-3318 for a free case evaluation.