Possession of an Altered Prescription

The fastest growing types of drug crimes in Utah involve the illegal use of prescription medications. Law enforcement officers, pharmacists, and doctors often disagree about how crimes related to prescription drug abuse should be prosecuted.

Possession of an Altered or Forged Prescription found in 58-37-8-(2)(a)(iii) prohibits any person from knowingly and intentionally possessing an altered or forged prescription or written order for a controlled substance. The crime is prosecuted as a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense, a Class A misdemeanor for a second offense, and a third-degree felony for a third offense.

Crimes related to a forged or altered prescription can involve procuring or attempting to procure a drug illegally by: 

  • altering a prescription;
  • forging a doctor's name on a prescription;
  • changing the number of pills on an otherwise valid prescription;
  • filling another person's prescription by pretending to be that person;
  • calling a pharmacy pretending to be a doctor's office or otherwise impersonating a member of the medical community to obtain a prescription;
  • using other forms of fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or subterfuge;
  • by concealment of a material fact;
  • stealing blank prescription forms from a doctor’s office;
  • buying prescription drugs online;
  • by other forms of theft; or
  • by use of a false statement in any prescription, chart, order, or report.

The most commonly abused prescription pills include Oxycontin, Lortab, Vicodin, and Percocet. Related offenses include obtaining prescriptions from several different doctors (often called "doctor shopping").

Attorneys for Possession of a Forged Prescription

If you were charged with Possession of an Altered or Forged Prescription or Written Order under 58-37-8-(2)(a)(iii), a Class B misdemeanor, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP in Salt Lake City, Utah.

We represent clients on a variety of drug offenses including presenting an altered or forged prescription, obtaining a prescription under false pretenses, or doctor shopping. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case.

Call (801) 532-5297 today.



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Elements of Possession of an Altered or Forged Prescription

The crime of Possession of an Altered or Forged Prescription or Written Order requires proof beyond all reasonable doubt of the following elements:

  1. the defendant intentionally and knowingly possessed an altered or forged prescription or written order; and
  2. knowing the altered or forged prescription or written order is for a controlled substance.

Dispensing a forged or altered prescription is also illegal.


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Utah Possession of an Altered or Forged Prescription Penalties

Convictions for Possession of an Altered or Forged Prescription can carry severe consequences. Violations of Utah Code § 58-37-8-(2)(a)(iii) are punishable as class B misdemeanors for first convictions, class A misdemeanors for second convictions, and third-degree felony offenses for third or subsequent convictions.

Depending on the grade of the alleged offense, a person who is convicted could receive any of the following maximum sentences:

  • Class B Misdemeanor — Up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000;
  • Class A Misdemeanor — Up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500; or
  • Third-Degree Felony — Up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

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Possession of an Altered or Forged Prescription Resources in Utah

Tamper-Resistant Prescription Form Requirements | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — As this CDC literature notes, “there is little information on the effectiveness of state statutes and regulations designed to prevent prescription drug abuse and diversion.” Learn more about different state laws relating to the required use of tamper-resistant prescription forms pertaining to prescriptions for controlled substances (Utah has no such law). This paper covers tamper-resistant prescription forms and the Federal Social Security Act, circumstances requiring tamper-resistant prescription forms and exemptions, deadlines for practitioners to use tamper-resistant prescription forms, and security features in tamper-resistant prescription forms. 

A Pharmacist's Guide to Prescription Fraud | Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Diversion Control Division — View the full text of a DEA informational brochure discussing forged or altered prescriptions. You can also view other related publications and manuals on this website. The website also lists criminal cases against doctors and provides answers to questions about a number of prescription questions.


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Find a Forged Prescription Defense Lawyer in Salt Lake City, UT

Were you arrested for allegedly possessing a forged or altered prescription in Utah? You should exercise your right to remain silent until you have the opportunity to contact Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP. 

Our Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys represent individuals in communities all over the greater Salt Lake County area, including Herriman, Copperton Township, Millcreek, Riverton, Holladay, Taylorsville, Magna, Kearns, Midvale, and several other nearby areas. Call (801) 532-5297 or fill out an online contact form today to have our lawyers review your case and discuss all of your legal options during a free initial consultation.


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