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Marsha411JD
Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 17265
Experience:  Licensed attorney with 28 yrs. exp. in criminal law
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Am I in trouble if the DA called my doctor?

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Hi there, I was diagnosed with a chronic pain condition a few years ago. At the time I started seeng a specialist who also performed surgary due to the condition. I've since moved and am now seeing a new doctor for the same condition. There was a time I was still getting Vicodin from the old dr. and then getting it from the new one during months I couldn't fly down to see him and it  never occured to me that could be considered "Dr. Shopping" but as soon as it did, I stopped doing it immediately and have only been seeing my newest Dr. for over 7 monthes now.


 


In fact my goal this year has been to cut back on the amount of Vicodin I was using, and I started seeing a psychiatrist to help me. Well the guy turned out to be sort of a nutjob, charged me $600 and gave me this stuff called Suboxone which was supposed to help get you off pain meds completely "without any withdrawl symptoms". Ironically I don't feel like I've ever been really addicted to anything until I tried to get off of the Suboxone.  It turned out to be the worst decision I ever made and after going through horrible withdrawls under the care of another psychiatrist I've been off it completely now for over a month.


 


When I went to see my Dr. today however he told me the DA's office had called and said not to give me any more Vicodin. He did anyway since he's so familiar with my case and just told me to bring in copies of everything from my old Dr. including surgary records so we can prove my condition easily. I asked if I was in trouble and he said that no if anything he was, but it scared me. Why would the DA contact him but not me directly? Am I in any sort of trouble and do you think maybe the Suboxone's the reason they called? Not sure what to do, any adivce would be very appreciated.

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 1 year ago.

Hello,

Thank you for the information and your question. It is difficult for me to tell how long you had an overlap, if any, in Vicodan prescriptions. If you did, then yes, you could have some exposure for charges of doctor shopping. You can see a very good discussion of the law related to this charge in California by going to: http://www.shouselaw.com/doctor-shopping.html

That said, something doesn't sound quite right with the scenario your doctor laid out for you. It would be very unusual for the DA's office to contact the Doctor about your prescription, unless they were either investigating the case or investigating him for being a pill mill. It would be more common for the DEA to contact him if it was just about you. But in any event, you have to take him at his word. I am not sure the suboxone had anything to do with you being on the radar. It may be that because of pharmacy and doctor reporting requirements, that you popped up in the system somehow.

In any event, I would strongly urge you not to make any statement to law enforcement if you are approached for a statement or arrested. Just tell them that you have nothing to say and want to speak to an attorney. Then you will want to find a local criminal defense attorney as soon as possible who you can talk to about the facts of your case and come up with a defense plan.

If you have the records to show that you were in two different places and just trying to have continuity of care, rather than doubling up on the Vicodan, then you should be alright. But again, speak to an attorney about this if you are approach by law enforcement.

Please let me know if you need any clarification. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Thanks so much for your responce Marsha. Honestly it actaully would make sense for him to be under investigation, he's a very kind man but I remember thinking at times almost too kind. He just sort of took me at my word when I first started coming in and in the whole 2 years I've been seeing him he's never touched me or required any sort of paperwork to validate my condition until now. Fortunately I was telling the truth about it but I remember thinking that it would've been very easy to get away with if I wasn't, he basically just asked me what I wanted and I've heard from other patients he's sort of known for over perscribing.


 


It was just sort of alarming that they called him with my name, I couldn't help but wonder what triggered that and he wouldn't tell me. Would it be ill advised to email the DA's office and just ask why they called about me? Of course I'd admit to nothing but the main thing bothering me is that I'm so in the dark about it all, the thought of being arrested is terrifying to me. I don't have alot of money and have no idea how I'd afford an attorney. As long as I make sure I only see him for the next few months should that fix the problem or should I stop seeing him all together? I'd rather go through the pain than risk going to jail.

Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 1 year ago.
Hello again and thank you for your reply. Well it does sort of sound like he might be suspected of being a pill mill. They could have gotten your name from a pharmacy if they have a warrant in their investigation against him. In other words, they investigate where his patient's get their prescriptions refilled and then get those records and may be fishing with him. However, if they are investigating you, it would have to have probably come from a pharmacy, or someone else that suspected you of doctor shopping.

Although I can understand your fear, I would strongly urge you not to contact the DA's office. That is just inviting more attention to yourself and inviting them (indirectly) to send detectives to talk to you. Even if you plan on not making a statement, they can put a lot of pressure on you. So, really better to let sleeping dogs lie right now.

As far as continuing to go to him. That is up to you. If you have medical records that confirm your condition, then you can continue with him if you choose. But I guess he is not going to prescribe Vicodan to you anymore. If you don't feel like he is a good doctor though, you might try finding another one. However, you want to be very up front with them about your previous Vicodan use, so there is no chance of being accused of doctor shopping with them.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Sorry, almost done asking questions! He actually did continue to give me the Vicodin since he's known me so well and just told me to bring in all my records from my previous dr. next time so he'd have them, which is no problem. That was one of the things that scared me, I wondered if that'd make it worse and/or draw more attention to him or me?


 


In your experience, what are the odds of a DA going after someone like me? I mean I've been on the Vicodin for a long time but it's not a very strong dose and it's not like I'm using Oxy or anything so I guess I thought i was sort of flying under the radar. Guess I just felt like a small fish in a big pond compared to people who really are going to like 10 doctors at a time so they can sell it on the street. If they do prosecute me am I looking at jail time or more a fine? Thanks again so much for your help.

Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 1 year ago.
Well, I guess if he is willing to do something they advised him not to do, that is his problem not yours. If he is the only doctor you are going to and getting Vicodan from, then there is nothing illegal going on right now. The DEA and local governments are sort of hit and miss with doctor shopping cases. If they see a rise in numbers of this crime, they are more likely to take action against more people they see as violating the law. Sort of the idea of making examples of cases. But, if they find that you had a very short period of overlap and the amount was not such that they think you were selling your excess, then there is really no reason to believe you will be pursued.

If you go to the link I provided earlier today in my initial answer, I believe it discusses the potential penalties. Generally, this can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony and does carry the potential of jail. However, that would be very unusual in a case like this.
Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 17265
Experience: Licensed attorney with 28 yrs. exp. in criminal law
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