Where Do Counterfeit Drugs Fit Into The Law?

Often, people who face possession with intent to manufacture or deliver charges believe that they cannot get in trouble because instead of “real” drug, they sold a counterfeit drug. This is a situation that is increasingly common in today’s world. As drugs become more and more popular, people are looking for ways to make the most money from the sale. To do this, they either manufacture counterfeit drugs or sell them, thinking that they will not only make more money but also that they cannot get in legal trouble for their actions.

However, it is important to know that state and federal laws come down hard on the manufacturing and sale of counterfeit drugs. In some states, the penalties are just as severe as those for “real” drugs. Here are some consequences that you may face:

You Could Be Charged With Fraud

If you take money from someone else under false pretenses, intentionally, that is called fraud under 18 USC § 1001. In order to constitute fraud, the statement needs to be intentionally and materially false. Let’s expand:

If you “intentionally” make a false statement, this means that you say something knowing it is not true. This means that you say, for example, that you are selling melatonin to someone, but you tell them that it is OxyContin. This is an intentionally false statement that misleads the recipient.

If you “materially” make a false statement, this means that someone intentionally misrepresents the bag of melatonin as OxyContin to someone who paid for it. In this same situation, say that person is at a concert, they would not have purchased melatonin.

Note that most people who get ripped off for a drug aren’t likely to report it: this would reveal that they were trying to purchase the drug. However, selling to an undercover police officer or the wrong person could lead to an arrest for fraud.

Manufacturing or Delivering Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals

Something like Suboxone is a prescription drug, even though we mostly talk about it in an illegal sense. This means that the federal government regulates it. Federal law absolutely prohibits the sale of counterfeit drugs under 21 USC § 331. The law states that counterfeit drug sales need to be interstate, which means that if everything took place within one state, then you might not be going against the federal law. However, this is a rarity because many drugs are manufactured in one state (or country) and then moved into another. Even if that is not your situation, most states have their own laws against the sale of counterfeit pharmaceuticals.

Online sales are booming in the drug industry, which means that there also been a boom in the prosecution of counterfeit drugs. With each transaction treated as a separate violation (and punishment), this can lead to sentencing that adds up to decades of jail time and tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

Defenses For Counterfeit Drug Charges

If you have been charged with manufacturing the sale of counterfeit drugs, there are some defenses that a skilled lawyer can argue. The first is a lack of intent when selling the drugs. If the person selling the drugs did not explicitly say that they were selling OxyContin, they may not have committed a crime. How can this occur? If someone sees you with a bag of vitamins, for example, and asks if you are selling Oxy and you say no, but you offer him the vitamins for sale (without saying what they are), you would not have committed fraud. You had no intent to sell that person something, and they just bought a bag of pills without knowing what they were.

This defense is difficult because most people who will report the sale of counterfeit drugs are undercover cops who know the right questions to ask to set you up for fraud. However, another defense is that you did not think you were selling counterfeit substances. If you received tablets from a third party or manufacturer and sold them as what you believed that they were, you would not be committing fraud – though you could still face drug charges.

Penalties for Selling Counterfeit Drugs

If a person is convicted of criminal fraud, they may face a sentence of up to five years in prison. For the sale of a counterfeit drug that involves interstate commerce with no intent to mislead, there is a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in prison. If there is intent to mislead, the fine can be up to $10,000 and/or three years in jail.

Remember that each sale is treated as a separate violation, which means that these can add up to extreme punishments.

Consult A Lawyer If You Have Been Charged With The Sale of Counterfeit Drugs

Selling fake drugs is a severe offense, and you need the best possible representation. If you have been charged with selling counterfeit drugs or any other drug-related fraud crime, contact us today – the sooner we can begin, the better.