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Accused of doctor-shopping? You can fight back

Once upon a time not so very long ago, patients could visit various doctors and obtain multiple narcotics prescriptions with little fear of the legal consequences. The practice became known as "doctor-shopping," and it greatly contributed to the flood of opioid drugs into Texas towns and communities.

In short, it was a great scourge on families who then had to cope with the damages wrought by a loved one's drug addiction. In 2012, the state legislature took action to combat the problem. Now, the Texas Department of Public Safety maintains a database of all prescriptions filled here in the state for drugs that are monitored.

What happens if you face allegations of doctor-shopping?

Police use the database to verify that a prescription is valid if they stop somebody who has medication in their possession. You could be accused of "doctor shopping" in many circumstances that have nothing to do with illegally obtaining narcotic prescriptions.

For instance, suppose you give a friend a ride or let them borrow your car. They inadvertently leave a bottle of pills in your car — pills for which you already have your own prescription. You subsequently get stopped by the police for cruising through a light you swear was yellow. During the traffic stop, the officer spies a medication bottle rolling around on the floor. Suddenly, that maybe-not-yellow light is the least of your worries.

You also might run into problems if you got your wisdom teeth extracted and got a prescription for hydrocodone. Then, just as you were healing from the surgery, you slid into third base playing softball and tore the ACL in your knee. At the ER, you were given another prescription for pain meds. But your name showed up as receiving the same medication during the same time period from different doctors. Now, you have a serious problem on your hands.

Don't dither — take action

If you are innocent, never believe that it will all work out in court. That rarely happens. Prosecutors take on cases that they believe are winnable. Many don't really care about a defendant's actual guilt or innocence, as they are in it for the numbers. If they feel that they can garner a conviction, they choose to prosecute. It's quite easy to get caught up in an overzealous prosecution and wind up behind bars.

Remain proactive and begin your defense at the time of your arrest. Remain silent and answer no questions. Then, ask to speak to a criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights and guide your defense.

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