NJ Prescription Drug Lawyer
Criminal Defense Attorney Represents Clients Facing Prescription Drug Charges in New Jersey
An NJ prescription drug lawyer can tell you that prescription drugs are often necessary to ensure that people recovering from surgeries or serious injuries are able to alleviate their pain and get back on their feet. However, prescription drugs can also be lethal – particularly when the narcotics are obtained illegally and their usage is not monitored by a trained doctor or physician. That is why prescription painkillers and other pharmaceutical drugs are classified as controlled dangerous substances (CDS) in the United States, including New Jersey. As a result, painkillers must be lawfully prescribed by a qualified medical professional and obtained from a licensed physician or pharmacist. When a person is unable to get the painkillers they desperately need and subsequently resorts to illegal means to obtain the medication, they are violating the law and putting themselves at risk of serious drug crime charges. In New Jersey, lawmakers have made a point of cracking down on the illegal sale or possession of prescription drugs because of the public outcry over prescription drug abuse and related overdose deaths. A conviction on prescription drug charges in NJ could result in severe penalties that put you behind bars for a very long time.
Have you been charged with a prescription drug offense in Hackensack, Paramus, Fort Lee, or anywhere else in New Jersey? Then you need to speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney immediately. Frank T. Luciano has nearly four decades of experience defending clients against drug charges throughout NJ – and he can capably represent you. Call or email Mr. Luciano today to schedule a free initial consultation about your New Jersey prescription drug crime case.
What Are the Most Serious Prescription Drug Offenses in New Jersey?
Within New Jersey, the sale, possession, and use of prescription drugs is regulated by both federal and state laws. At the state level, prescription medications are governed in the NJ criminal code by N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10. Under this criminal statute, it is against the law for anyone to illegally possess or distribute prescription drugs, including painkillers, sleeping pills, and antidepressants. In some circumstances, even medications such as cough syrup or allergy pills are subject to strict regulation. Anyone who possesses a regulated prescription medication without a valid prescription could face criminal charges.
These are some of the most serious prescription drug offenses in NJ:
- Prescription Drug Possession: A person can be charged with illegal possession of prescription drugs under a variety of circumstances. For instance, if you borrow medication from a friend or relative, and the drugs are later found on your person or on your property, you could be arrested on prescription drug possession charges.
- Prescription Drug Distribution: One of the most serious charges in N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 of the criminal code is illegal distribution of prescription drugs. Under NJ law, only licensed physicians, dentists, pharmacists, and veterinarians are allowed to prescribe, distribute, or dispense Rx drugs. This means that you can be charged with a crime even if you legally obtained medication and then gave it to a friend or relative.
- Illegal Use of Prescription Drugs: New Jersey also criminalizes the use of prescription drugs without a valid prescription, which means that you can be arrested even if you are not actually found in possession of prescription drugs. For example, you may have been pulled over by police while driving and then exhibited signs of being under the influence of prescription narcotics. If you are unable to provide proof that the drugs in your system were legally prescribed by a licensed physician, you could be charged with a disorderly persons offense and face jail time. (You could also face DUI charges for driving under the influence of drugs.)
- Keeping Pills Outside the Container: Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-24 of the criminal code, it is against the law for a person to remove more than a 10-day supply of prescription pills from their original container. This law exists in part because NJ authorities fear that the removal of prescription drugs from the pill bottle makes it easier to illegally distribute the pills.
- Prescription Fraud: A person who uses deceptive means to illegally acquire prescription drugs in NJ can be charged with prescription fraud. N.J.S.A. 2C:35-13 prohibits people from using misrepresentation to obtain prescription drugs or related materials like prescription drug pads. (Offenders can also be charged with a theft crime.)
- Prescription Forgery: One specific type of prescription fraud is prescription forgery. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1, a person who forges a doctor’s signature on a prescription pad can be charged with prescription forgery and face significant penalties.
Which Prescription Drugs Are Regulated in Fort Lee, NJ?
Many different types of prescription drugs are regulated in New Jersey, including opiates, painkillers, tranquilizers, antidepressants, and stimulants. Whether a person requires medication for post-surgical pain, intense pain following an injury, ADD or ADHD, insomnia, an anxiety disorder, alcohol withdrawal, or the flu, it is often necessary for the person to first obtain a prescription from a licensed doctor or physician.
The following is a short list of some of the specific prescription narcotics that are regulated in NJ:
The powerful nature of many of these prescription drugs can put the user at a heightened risk of addiction. This has become very common in recent years, with more than half of all people reporting that they take at least one prescription medication on a regular basis. Not surprisingly, the total number of drug overdoses and deaths is at an all-time high. Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has called prescription drug abuse “an epidemic,” and legal authorities in New Jersey and elsewhere in the U.S. have responded to the fast-growing addiction problem by enforcing strict drug laws and seeking maximum penalties at trial.
Can I Go to Jail for Prescription Drug Possession or Distribution in Mahwah, NJ?
Yes. You can absolutely go to jail if you are convicted of illegally possessing or distributing prescription drugs in New Jersey. In fact, if you are caught with just a single prescription pill but no prescription, you can be charged with a disorderly persons offense and face up to six (6) months in the county jail. Get caught with five (5) or more pills or dosage units, and you can be charged with a felony and face 18 months in the state prison.
The penalties for illegally distributing prescription drugs in NJ are even more severe. Those prescription drug distribution penalties are determined by the total number of pills or dosage units:
- 1-4 pills: 18 months in jail.
- 5-99 pills: 3-5 years in prison and $200,000 fine.
- 100 or more pills: 5-10 years in prison and $300,000 fine.
Additionally, it is possible for you to be charged with prescription drug distribution even if you did not actually sell or transfer the prescription drugs to another person. That’s because the mere intent to distribute drugs is enough to get a distribution charge. In many instances, NJ prosecutors will charge a person with intent to distribute prescription drugs if the person is caught with a large quantity of pharmaceutical narcotics.
Contact Paramus Prescription Drug Attorney Frank T. Luciano Now for a Free Consultation
You have options when charged with a prescription drug crime in New Jersey. There are many affirmative defenses that can be raised to contest a prescription drug charge. That’s why it is imperative that you have a highly skilled attorney on your side throughout the legal process. Frank T. Luciano is a seasoned criminal defense lawyer who has successfully represented numerous clients in drug cases throughout New Jersey, including Bergen County, Essex County, Passaic County, and Monmouth County. You can contact Mr. Luciano anytime by filling out the online contact form or by calling 973-471-0004.