Opportunities to deal counterfeit prescription drugs have increased considerably over the last few decades largely due to internet use. Prescription medication is readily available online, which makes it convenient for a lot of people. Online drugs are sometimes cheaper than those from pharmacies, which is another reason most people turn to them. However, online sales have increased prescription drug sales prosecutions. Manufacturing, distributing, marketing, selling, and transporting fake prescription medication is a crime punishable by state and federal law.
Cases related to dealing in counterfeit prescription drugs can bring serious charges and penalties. Depending on the circumstances, you may face a long prison sentence and/or hefty fines. A lawyer who specializes in counterfeit prescription medication cases understands the complexities that arise in such instances. Learning about the elements that make up counterfeit prescription drug charges can help you grasp your case better.
Producing, marketing, and selling fake prescription medications involve fraud. When an individual promises to deliver a product or service under false pretenses in exchange for money, then that constitutes fraud. If you tell an online buyer that you will send them Oxycontin but then sent aspirin instead, that is fraud because the statement you made was untrue. Fraud is a federal crime that carries a harsh punishment.
Under the law, a statement must be intentionally and materially false for actions to amount to fraud. Intentional means giving a statement when you know it to be false. You are positive that the drugs on sale are not Oxycontin but still tell the buyer that they are. Materially refers to facts that play a significant role in the case. It means that the false statement given is what facilitated the transaction, so it is material.
Counterfeit Prescription Drug Charges
The federal government regulates all prescription drugs and one of that if the prohibition of counterfeit drug sales. However, for you to be charged with a federal crime, the sale must have occurred interstate. If the purchase, marketing, and selling all occur in one area, then the federal regulations don’t apply. Nonetheless, you will have to answer to the state laws. Sale of fake prescription drugs becomes a federal crime when an individual crosses state lines to conduct the transactions. By default, online sales involve interstate commerce; and therefore, are regulated by federal law.
Note that an individual sale is regarded as a separate violation, meaning you could be in a world of trouble depending on the number of transactions. A case of counterfeit prescription drug sale can get very complicated if the buyer suffers physical damages. For example, if a manufacturer offers fake migraine medication passing it off as the real thing and users end up with physical side effects such as poor vision, then such a case takes a very bad turn. If there is proof that a buyer’s health issues resulted from the use of the fake drugs you supplied, then that could mean a very long incarceration.
The degree of punishment varies with the circumstances of the case. If the charge is for fraud, then you may get a 5-year maximum prison sentence. If you were caught selling counterfeit prescription medication but it’s proven that there was no intent to defraud, then the sentence may be a maximum of one year and a $1,000 fine. If proven that there was intent to defraud, then the maximum sentence should not exceed three years, and the fine is $10,000 maximum. A judge can decide on a sentence, fine or both. Remember that each transaction is an individual crime, so the more they are, the higher the sentence.
An experienced lawyer can approach a counterfeit prescription drug case in different ways. One defense that a lawyer can use is the lack of knowledge. You may not have had a clue as to the quality of the drugs you were selling. In such an instance, a fraud charge would be easy to fight because there was no intent to mislead. Lack of intent will not get rid of the fake medication sale accusation but can lessen it. Fraud charges resulting from the sale of counterfeit prescription drugs can take different forms. For instance, it will depend on the method used to conduct the transaction. If there was phone contact, then that may lead to a wire fraud charge.
Getting convicted of multiple crimes relating to fake prescription medication can devastate your life. If it’s a company caught manufacturing fake drugs, then the fines could be monumental. The type of drug may also influence the severity of the charges. Prescription medications are classified in schedules, and that is used to measure the degree of the offense. Drug-related crimes have ethical and moral aspects to consider, which can swing the judgment either way. An attorney can provide a critical analysis of your case and work on achieving the best possible results for you.