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Health & Safety Code 11154 HS - Prescribing A Controlled Substance Without Treatment


Los Angeles Criminal Defense LawyerIn California, it is against the law for physicians to prescribe controlled substances to individuals who are not under their care, as stated in California Health and Safety Code 11154 HS. Violating this law can result in criminal charges, which can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If convicted, the penalty can include imprisonment for up to three years.

The misuse of prescription drugs is a serious issue that can have devastating effects on individuals and families. Unlike illegal drugs that are obtained through illicit sources, prescription drugs can often be acquired by simply obtaining a prescription from a licensed doctor. This section of the law is frequently paired with Business & Professions Code 725(b), which deals with cases of excessive prescribing of drugs.


To secure a conviction of a doctor or other authorized practitioner under California Health & Safety Code Section 11154(a), a prosecutor must provide evidence that conclusively establishes all three elements of the offense beyond any reasonable doubt.

  • The accused is a licensed medical practitioner.
  • The accused prescribed or administered a controlled substance to an individual.
  • The accused did not have a legitimate medical reason for treating the recipient with the prescribed drug.

Please note that under HS 11154(a), practitioners are allowed to prescribe controlled substances to individuals for the purpose of addressing drug addiction, even if no additional treatment is provided.

In these cases, the focus is primarily on the act of prescribing. It is possible to commit the offense without a written prescription, such as when a doctor in a hospital prescribes or orders a narcotic for a patient.

Furthermore, a physician can also violate Health and Safety Code 11154(a) by issuing a prescription for a non-existent individual.

See also  18 U.S.C. Section 1341 - Federal Mail Fraud Law


Example 1:Dr. Garcia prescribes his neighbor with sleeping pills for insomnia, although Dr. Garcia has never conducted a medical evaluation.

Example 2: Dr. Lee offers online consultations for anxiety treatment and provides prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications to clients who contact him over the internet, without meeting them in person or assessing their condition.

Example 3: Sarah meets Dr. Patel at a social event and mentions she is feeling stressed at work. Dr. Patel writes her a prescription for a strong sedative without conducting a proper evaluation or discussing potential side effects.


Under California Health and Safety Code 11154(a), the offense of prescribing a controlled substance without proper medical treatment is considered a wobbler offense, meaning it can be punished as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged under misdemeanor crimes, the penalty may include:

  • Imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year; and/or
  • A fine of up to ﹩20,000.

If charged under felony crimes, the punishment may be Imprisonment in a county jail for a term of 16 months, two years, or three years.

The specific sentence will depend on various factors, such as the individual’s criminal history and the circumstances surrounding the offense. It’s always best to consult with a qualified legal professional for a more detailed understanding of the potential consequences and appropriate course of action.


When charged under Health and Safety Code 11154(a), an accused can raise legal defenses with the help of an attorney. In many cases, a good defense can lead to a reduced charge or even dismissal of the accusation. However, it is highly recommended to hire an attorney to raise a defense on the accused’s behalf. Here are three common defenses that can be raised:

  • Accident: When an accused asserts that they did not intend to commit a criminal act, and it was merely an accident, it can be considered a legal defense. For this defense to be successful, the accused has to demonstrate that they had no criminal intent, were not negligent, and were involved in lawful conduct when the accident occurred. For example, a physician may argue that they accidentally prescribed a controlled substance without treatment and did not intend to cause harm. However, it’s important to note that the physician may still be liable for medical malpractice for prescribing the wrong drug.
  • Examination and medical basis: A strong defense can be mounted by demonstrating that the prosecutor cannot prove the elements of the crime. Since there are three elements of the offense, a defense can challenge any of the elements. For instance, a defense can argue that the physician performed a thorough examination of the patient and had a valid medical basis for prescribing a controlled substance.
  • Entrapment: In some cases, physicians are accused and arrested when an undercover officer poses as a patient and secures a prescription without treatment. Entrapment is a legal defense that can be raised if the accused can show that they were only lured into committing the crime due to overbearing conduct on the part of police officers, such as pressure, harassment, fraud, flattery, or threats. Entrapment can be a valid defense if it can be proven that the accused committed the crime only due to the entrapment.


Drug offenses can have serious implications for immigration status, potentially making a person deportable, inadmissible, convicted of an aggravated felony, and ineligible for relief. To fully understand the specific immigration consequences of a charge under Health & Safety Code § 11154 HS and how it may impact an individual’s situation, it is advisable to seek guidance from an immigration attorney who can provide personalized advice based on the individual’s circumstances and applicable immigration laws. If you do not have or know of an immigration lawyer, the Tabibnia Law Firm can refer you to one.




If you are a medical practitioner facing an investigation or criminal charges related to prescribing a controlled substance without treatment, consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer now. Los Angeles drug crime attorney Cyrus Tabibnia specializes in assisting individuals in the medical profession who are dealing with the serious consequences of such accusations. Known for his tenacious advocacy, Mr. Tabibnia is dedicated to providing the best possible defense for his clients.

To learn more about the legal implications of prescribing a controlled substance without treatment and to schedule a free consultation, reach out to Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Cyrus Tabibnia at the Tabibnia Law Firm. Call: 866-713-2159


Tabibnia Law Firm is serving its clients throughout Southern California including Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Orange County, Beverly Hills, San Fernando Valley, Ventura county, Riverside County, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Pasadena, Burbank, Glendale, Long Beach, Palmdale, Santa Clarita, Monterey Park, La Puente, Van Nuys, Pomona, Manhattan Beach, West Covina, Whittier, Downey, Woodland Hills, Norwalk, Torrance, Redondo Beach, San Bernardino, Walnut Creek, Inglewood, Lancaster, Westlake Village and nearby areas.


  1. California Health and Safety Code 11154(a) HS
  2. Requirements Of Prescriptions
  3. California Health and Safety Code 11156 HS.
  4. California Health and Safety Code 11371 HS.
  5. California Health and Safety Code 11153 HS.
  6. California Health and Safety Code 11162.5 HS.
Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia, also known as Shahrooz Tabibnia, is a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, California. With a law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, he has been practicing law since 2005 and holds license #237348. With over 18 years of experience, Cyrus specializes in various misdemeanor and felony criminal Law including Domestic Violence, Theft Crime, Sex crime, DUI & DWI, Personal Injury, Employment Law, and Cannabis & Marijuana Drugs Law. Being bilingual in English, Persian, and Spanish enables him to effectively communicate with a diverse range of clients. From 2014 to 2018, he served as a board member of the Iranian American Bar Association. An expungement attorney in Los Angeles who can assist you in clearing your criminal record in the state of California.

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