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Health & Safety Code 11162.5 HS – Counterfeiting a Prescription Blank

By Spodek Law Group | February 17, 2023

Counterfeit a Prescription Blank: Health & Safety Code 11162.5

Are you aware that it’s a criminal offense to counterfeit prescription blanks for controlled substances in California? The California Health and Safety Code 11162.5 HS prohibits making or possessing fake prescription pads, which are used to authorize prescriptions for controlled substances.

But what is a “wobbler” offense? A prosecutor can file it as either a misdemeanor or a felony, with a maximum of three years in jail for the latter. Despite prescription blanks being known as “pads,” modern doctors tend to use computerized versions called electronic prescriptions.

The code doesn’t just make it illegal to counterfeit, but also to have possession of them. Desperate addicts are known to counterfeit prescription pads to trick pharmacists into providing them with the drugs they seek.

Imagine a man addicted to Oxycontin who is trying to fuel his habit. After stealing a prescription pad from his doctor’s office, he makes duplicates and writes a fake prescription. He then forges the doctor’s signature and takes it to a pharmacy. If caught, he could be charged with counterfeiting a prescription pad in violation of Health & Safety Code 11162.5 HS.

The legal definition of counterfeiting a prescription blank is provided under California Health & Safety Code Section 11162.5. Counterfeiting means an exact imitation of an official prescription blank, with the specific intent to defraud or deceive. It’s a crime to counterfeit a prescription pad and simply knowing possession of one.

In order to be convicted under HS 11162.5, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant counterfeited an official prescription blank or knowingly had possession of a counterfeit one. The penalties depend on the number of counterfeit prescription pads the defendant possessed.

Punishments for Counterfeiting a Prescription Blank

Counterfeiting a prescription pad and knowingly possessing one are wobbler crimes under Health and Safety Code 11162.5 HS. The prosecutor has discretion to file the case as either a misdemeanor or felony. If convicted of a misdemeanor, the maximum penalties are one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, if convicted of a felony for producing or possessing four or more counterfeit prescription pads, the penalties can be 16 months to three years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

If the defendant possessed or produced three or less counterfeit prescription pads, they will face the misdemeanor penalties described above.

HS 11162.5 counterfeiting a prescription pad is closely related to California Health & Safety Code 11368 HS, which involves forging a prescription for a narcotic drug. Other related crimes include doctor shopping and prescription fraud (HS 11173), prescribing controlled substances without medical purposes (HS 11153), prescribing drugs without treatment (HS 11154(a)), and prescribing controlled substances to addicts (HS 11156).

Defenses for Counterfeit Prescription Blank Cases

If you’re under investigation or have been charged with counterfeiting a prescription blank, it’s crucial to have a criminal defense lawyer review the details to determine the best possible strategy. Common defenses include lack of knowledge or intent and police entrapment. Lack of knowledge involves proving that the defendant did not know they were in possession of a counterfeit prescription pad. Lack of intent involves arguing that the defendant never attempted to deceive or trick anyone. Police entrapment is proving that undercover police acted improperly to convince the defendant to commit a crime.

There are several defense strategies that can be employed for the best possible outcome if charged with HS 11162.5. One possible strategy is negotiating with the prosecutor for reduced charges or even getting the case dismissed. Another strategy is pre-filing intervention, where mitigating factors can be presented to persuade the prosecutor not to file formal charges before court.

It’s crucial to work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands the nuances of California’s counterfeit prescription blank laws and defenses. The right defense strategy can make all the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.


Counterfeiting a prescription pad for controlled substances is a serious criminal offense under California law. The penalties for a conviction depend on the number of counterfeit prescription pads possessed or produced, and the case can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony. It’s crucial to understand the legal definition of counterfeiting, the elements of the crime, and the available defenses.

Working with a skilled criminal defense lawyer can make all the difference in a counterfeit prescription blank case. They can review the details, determine the best defense strategy, and fight to protect your rights and freedom. If you’re facing charges for counterfeiting a prescription blank, don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney for help.

Additional Tips

It’s worth noting that being charged with counterfeiting a prescription blank can have serious consequences beyond legal penalties. It can harm your personal and professional reputation, affect your employment prospects, and limit your future opportunities.

If you’re facing an investigation or have been charged with this offense, it’s essential to work with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. They can guide you through the legal process, protect your rights, and help you achieve the best possible outcome.

Finally, it’s important to remember that counterfeiting a prescription pad for controlled substances can cause harm to individuals and society at large. It’s essential to seek help if you’re struggling with addiction or other related issues. There are resources available that can provide support and help you overcome these challenges.


Counterfeiting a prescription pad is a serious crime in California that carries significant legal and personal consequences. Understanding the legal definition, elements of the crime, and available defenses is crucial to fighting charges and protecting your rights.

If you’re facing charges, working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you achieve the best possible outcome. Additionally, seeking help for addiction or other related issues is critical to preventing harm to yourself and society at large.

By taking the right steps, you can move forward and put this difficult chapter behind you.

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