Possession & Distribution of Prescription Drugs in Camden County, NJ
To combat the prevalence of prescription drug abuse and the illegal distribution of these drugs, New Jersey has enacted a host of laws which prohibit the unlawful possession and distribution of these drugs, as well as associated crimes such as prescription forgery or obtaining prescription drugs by fraud. When you are charged with a prescription drug crime, you face severe penalties, including hefty fines and time in prison. To protect yourself, it is highly advisable to have an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney on your side. William Fay is a skilled criminal defense lawyer with years of experience representing clients charged with drug crimes and other criminal offenses in Southern New Jersey. Mr. Fay has employed an arsenal of knowledge and resources to deliver the best possible outcomes to clients in Camden County. When you enlist Mr. Fay, you have an aggressive defender who will fight tirelessly on your behalf. For additional information and to discuss your case with Mr. Fay today, contact his offices at 609-832-3202 for a cost-free consultation. You can also read reviews from some of his former clients by accessing his profile on Avvo.com.
Prescription Drug Charges Lawyer in Cherry Hill NJ
It might be surprising to learn that many of the prescription drugs that lead to arrests in NJ are commonly used for legal purposes. Nevertheless, if you are found to be in possession of even a single prescription pill and you do not have proof of a valid prescription from a licensed physician or doctor, you could be charged with a crime. Generally speaking, the prescription drugs that can result in a criminal charge for illegal possession or illegal distribution are painkillers, opiates, stimulants, depressants, and tranquilizers. The specific types of prescription drugs that commonly result in arrests in New Jersey include Adderall, Ambien, Amphetamines, Codeine, Demerol, Dexedrine, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, Methadone, Morphine, Oxycodone/OxyContin, Percocet, Provigil, Ritalin, Roxycontin, Suboxone, Valium, Vicodin, and Xanax.
Illegal Possession of Prescription Drugs
Under New Jersey law, a person must have a valid prescription from a licensed physician, doctor, or pharmacist for just about any type of prescription drug, including painkillers, antidepressants, sleeping pills, cough syrup, allergy medication, or other types of medication. Although there are limited exceptions for doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and veterinarians, any other individual should expect to be charged with a prescription drug possession offense if they are found carrying even a single prescription pill without a prescription. There are almost no exceptions to this law, and even borrowing a medication from a family member or friend is also a crime and could result in you being sentenced to significant jail time.
Prescription Drug Distribution Charges
Prescription drug distribution is addressed by the same statute as possession of prescription legend drugs in the criminal code: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5. These charges differ from the main statutory violations for specific Schedule narcotics like heroin and cocaine. Although prescription legend drugs like Adderall, Oxycodone, Percocet, Ritalin, Vicodin, and Xanax are technically legal, they can only be dispensed by a licensed physician, veterinarian, dentist, or other practitioner who is authorized by law to prescribe medication. This means that even if you lawfully obtained the prescription drugs, you can still be charged with a drug distribution offense for later attempting to divert the medication to someone else. Similar to how the penalties for heroin and cocaine dealing are determined by the weight of the drug involved in the offense, penalties for unlawfully distributing prescription drugs are determined by the number of pills or dosage units involved. The higher the amount of pills, the worse the charges and penalties.
Prescription Fraud, Obtaining Prescription Drugs by Fraud
In New Jersey, if you forge a prescription or obtain prescription drugs by any form of fraud, misrepresentation, deception, or subterfuge, you can be charged with a third degree crime in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-13. These charges leave you exposed to a 3 to 5-year term of incarceration, as well as a 6-month period of driver’s license suspension, and a fine of up to $50,000.
Penalties for Prescription Drug Offenses
New Jersey law outlines offenses involving the possession, distribution, and possession with intent to distribute prescription drugs in section N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. Under this statute, offenses are classified according to the amount of units or pills involved, as well as the alleged intent (possession for personal use vs. possession with intent to distribute or distribution) of the defendant. While prescription drug possession can be classified as either a felony or a disorderly persons offense (e.g., a misdemeanor), prescription drug distribution is always classified as a felony if the distribution involved a sale for pecuniary gain. The distinction between a felony and a disorderly persons offense is important because felony-level offenses are handled in the county superior court and carry far more severe penalties than disorderly persons offenses that are handled in the local municipal court.
The grading of prescription drug possession and distribution charges is as follows:
- Possession of 4 or fewer units or pills is a disorderly persons offense. Penalties include a sentence to serve up to 6 months in the county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- Possession of 5 or more units or pills is a fourth degree crime. Penalties include a sentence to serve up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Distribution or possession with intent to distribute 4 or fewer units or pills is a fourth degree crime. Penalties include a sentence to serve up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Distribution or possession with intent to distribute at least 5 but less than 100 units or pills is a third degree crime. Penalties include a sentence to serve between 3 and 5 years in New Jersey State Prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
- Distribution or possession with intent to distribute 100 or more units or pills is a second degree crime. Penalties include a sentence to serve between 5 and 10 years in New Jersey State Prison and a fine of up to $300,000.
Can I Get PTI or Drug Court for a Prescription Drug Charge?
Although the best outcome to a prescription drug case in New Jersey is to get the charges dismissed altogether, the reality is that this is not always possible. Since you definitely do not want to be convicted at trial and face maximum penalties that could include jail or prison time, you may want to consider one of the state’s diversionary programs for non-violent drug offenses: Drug Court or Pretrial Intervention (PTI). Either option allows the defendant in a drug case to avoid trial, stay out of jail, and keep their record clear of a drug crime conviction. Drug Court is a special court that requires the defendant to remain on highly intensive supervision, take frequent drug tests, and successfully complete a drug treatment and recovery program. Pretrial Intervention, or PTI, is a program that also requires intense supervision, as well as drug testing and completion of a drug rehab program. Upon completion of either Drug Court or PTI, the prescription drug charges against the defendant will be dismissed. Notably, getting into PTI requires that you have no prior criminal record, as the program is a one time only option and open to first offenders alone.
About Prescription Drug Use and Abuse
It is widely accepted that the United States is a medicated society. We take medications to treat physical and mental conditions, heal ailments, fight infections, manage symptoms, and treat pain. One of the most devastating side effects of our reliance of prescription medications has been the exponential increase in prescription drug abuse among Americas of all ages. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, tens of millions of Americans use prescription medications for non-medical reasons every year. Over half of those abusing prescription drugs obtained them from a friend or relative, while over 17% were prescribed them.
Contact a Winslow NJ Prescription Drug Charges Attorney Today
If you or someone you love has been charged with a prescription drug crime in Camden County or elsewhere in South Jersey, time is limited to begin building your best defense strategy. Contact our firm at 609-832-3202 for additional information and a cost-free consultation.