Counterfeit Drug Offenses


On a global level, counterfeit drugs account for more than 10 percent of pharmaceutical sales. Unfortunately, counterfeit drug offenses including the selling, manufacturing, or distributing of counterfeit drugs can lead to various legal repercussions. Not only is any act affiliated with counterfeit drugs against federal and state laws, but it can also damage the health and well-being of unsuspecting buyers. Drugs that are tainted with other substances or fake ingredients may cause injury and even death in serious cases.

When you are dealing with a counterfeit drug offense, it is best to contact an experienced San Diego drug defense attorney as soon as possible. You will need help from a professional advocate with the right legal background. The criminal defense team at McElfresh Law can provide a solid understanding of the charges against you and work together to build a comprehensive defense.

Contact us today at (858) 756-7107.

Federal Counterfeit Drug Offenses

President Obama implemented the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act in July of 2012. Also known as the “Counterfeit Drug Bill,” this federal law increases penalties for the trafficking of counterfeit drugs. Under 18 U.S.C. § 2320, you can be charged for intentionally engaging in the following conduct:

  • Trafficking goods or services and knowingly using a counterfeit mark on or in connection with such goods/services
  • Trafficking in labels or packaging of any type, knowing that a counterfeit mark has been applied thereto, the use of which is likely to deceive
  • Trafficking in goods or services knowing that such good or service is a counterfeit military good that is likely to cause serious bodily injury or death
  • Tracking in a counterfeit drug

If you are convicted of an offense listed above, you can receive a prison term up to 10 years and be fined up to $2,000,000. Punishments may also be elevated if you contributed to the making or selling of a counterfeit drug that causes serious bodily injury or death to another individual.

In addition, according to 21 USC § 331, it is illegal to perform any “act which causes a drug to be a counterfeit drug, or the sale or dispensing, or the holding for sale or dispensing, of a counterfeit drug.” If convicted of such charges, you may be convicted of criminal fraud with a prison term of up to 5 years. For a counterfeit drug offense involving interstate commerce, you can face up to 3 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

Because there are many federal laws and regulations applicable to counterfeit drug offenses, you will need a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to assess your situation and potential charges.

California Counterfeit Drug Offenses

Under California Health and Safety Codes, you can be charged with a crime when you are suspected of willfully manufacturing, selling, or knowingly possessing for sale counterfeit drugs. This can pertain to:

  • Synthetic controlled substances that are made with similar chemicals as drugs like marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, or LSD. They can be misrepresented as containing pure ingredients and falsely marketed to buyers.
  • Imitation controlled substances that contain entirely different ingredients, such as when baking soda is sold to imitate cocaine.
  • Diluted controlled substances that contain mixed chemicals or drugs with unpredictable and often dangerous effects.

When convicted of a counterfeit drug offense in California, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances.

  • Misdemeanors carry a potential jail sentence of 6 months and a fine up to $1,000.
  • Penalties for felony drug offenses often vary in severity. Generally, you can be subject to 1 to 5 years in prison.

California counterfeit drug cases can become overwhelming and complicated. You may also have to deal with fraud or personal injury charges if counterfeit drugs lead to injury. You will most likely need help from a knowledgeable California criminal defense lawyer to reduce or reverse the charges against you.

How a San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

San Diego criminal defense lawyer Jessica McElfresh offers years of experience in fighting for the constitutional rights and freedoms of her clients. She can help to thoroughly investigate your case and the evidence against you and build a strong defense. In the past, McElfresh has tackled complex legal issues from warrantless searches to improper police proceedings.

Call McElfresh Law today at (858) 756-7107 to schedule your free and confidential case consultation with a skilled San Diego criminal defense lawyer.