Modern medicine gives doctors a variety of ways to treat chronic pain. A controversial one, prescribing opioid pain medication, is common in south Florida. Because pain medication is potentially addictive and has some considerable side effects, Florida law places tight prescription controls on doctors, pharmacists and patients.

Doctor shopping happens when a person visits more than one doctor to obtain or attempt to obtain multiple prescriptions for a controlled substance. This type of behavior is a serious criminal offense in Florida.

Obtaining multiple prescriptions

You have a right to seek a second medical opinion or to visit more than one doctor. If you withhold material information when trying to obtain a controlled substance, though, you may violate the law.

Simply not informing subsequent doctors about the other prescriptions you have may be enough to expose you to criminal liability. Furthermore, if you use fraud, forgery, subterfuge or misrepresentation to obtain a prescription for a controlled substance, you may face legal consequences.

Understanding criminal liability

In the Sunshine State, doctor shopping is chargeable as a third-degree felony. If a judge or jury convicts you of the offense, you may face up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine or both. Doctor shopping may also trigger other criminal charges, such as drug trafficking or even Medicare fraud.

Defending yourself

If you are facing criminal charges for doctor shopping, you may have to defend yourself on a couple different battlefields. First, if you have an addiction, you may need rehabilitation or other services to combat drug dependency and restore your good health.

Equally important, you must explore all possible legal defenses. Fortunately, with a prosecution for doctor shopping, you probably have a few options for avoiding criminal liability.

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