New Jersey Prescription Drug Charges Defense Attorneys
Doctors prescribe medication to cure illnesses and relieve pain. However, there is also a downside to the ever-growing list of FDA approved drugs on the market. Prescription drug abuse is becoming more and more common in New Jersey. As a result, NJ prosecutors will not hesitate to seek the maximum punishments for those found guilty of illegally distributing prescription drugs.
At Lombardi and Lombardi, our criminal defense team includes former prosecutors who understand how the state handles drug charges, including prescription drug charges. As a result, we understand how the other side thinks in prescription drug cases. We serve clients throughout New Jersey, including Point Pleasant, Brick, Freehold, Essex, Monmouth and Ocean County and beyond. Call us today or contact us online for a free consultation about your case.
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Common Prescription Drugs Regulated in NJ
According to the National Drug Threat Assessment Summary, prepared by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2013, pharmaceutical drug abuse is the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem in the United States. Further, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that 4.5 million people were nonmedical users of pain relievers in 2011.
The specific types of prescription drugs that are commonly abused in New Jersey include:
- Adderall – An amphetamine used to treat ADHD
- Ambien – The brand name for Zolpidem, which is used to treat insomnia
- Amphetamines – Stimulant drugs used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy
- Codeine – Used as a painkiller and a cough reliever.
- Diazepam – Sold as Valium and used to treat anxiety disorders, panic attacks, muscle spasms, insomnia, and alcohol withdrawal
- Fentanyl – Typically used to treat pain after surgery.
- GHB – A “club drug”
- Hydrocodone – Sold as Vicodin and used as both a painkiller and a cough syrup
- Ketamine – A “club drug”
- Methadone – Commonly used to treat moderate to severe pain, as well as drug addiction and withdrawal symptoms
- Morphine – Used to treat intense pain
- Oxycodone – Sold as Percocet and used to treat moderate to severe pain
- Percocet – The brand name for Oxycodone, which is used to treat moderate to severe pain
- Provigil – A prescription stay-awake drug used to treat narcolepsy.
- Ritalin – A stimulant drug that is prescribed to treat ADD and narcolepsy
- Rohypnol – A “club drug”
- Valium – The brand name for Diazepam, which is used to treat anxiety disorders, panic attacks, muscle spasms, insomnia, and alcohol withdrawal.
- Vicodin – The brand name for Hydrocodone, which is used to treat moderately severe pain
- Xanax – The brand name for Alprazolam, which is used to treat anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and depression.
NJ State and Federal Laws Impose Possible Jail Time for Prescription Drug Possession and Distribution
Prescription drugs are heavily regulated by state and federal authorities. In New Jersey, possession of prescription legend drugs is addressed by N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5. “Prescription legend drugs” means any drug that can be dispensed only by prescription or by order of a licensed physician, veterinarian, or dentist.
The quantity of illegal prescription drugs determines the severity of the penalty:
- Disorderly person’s offense – A person cannot knowingly possess a prescription drug in an amount of four or fewer dosage units. This crime is punishable by up to six months in the county jail.
- Fourth degree felony – A person may not distribute for financial gain, or possess with intent to distribute for financial gain, a prescription drug in an amount of four or fewer dosage units. The quantity of prescription drugs here is the same, but the intent to distribute elevates the crime to a fourth-degree felony-level offense and subjects the offender to a possible punishment of 18 months in NJ State Prison.
- Third degree felony – A person cannot distribute or intent to distribute between five and 99 dosage units of a prescription drug. Subject to five years in state prison and a $200,000 fine.
- Second degree felony – A person may not distribute or intent to distribute 100 or more dosage units of a prescription drug. Subject to 10 years in state prison and a $300,000 fine.
In New Jersey, it is an affirmative defense to argue that the prescription drug possession constituted a de minimis offense, meaning that it was a harmless infraction that doesn’t warrant severe punishment. This offense is available to persons who lawfully received prescription drugs and then decided to give some of those prescription drugs to a friend for personal use. An experienced criminal lawyer can persuasively argue this defense in court in an effort to get the drug charges against you dismissed.
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Additional Charge in New Jersey: Prescription Forgery
A related charge is a prescription forgery, which is covered under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1. As set forth by the statute, a person commits prescription forgery when he or she obtains pharmaceutical drugs by filling out stolen prescription drug pads or forging a prescription slip. Prescription forgery is classified as a third-degree felony, which is punishable by a sentence of between three and five years in NJ State Prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
Speak with an Experienced Drug Crime Defense Lawyer with an Office in Brick Township, NJ; Contact Lombardi & Lombardi for a Free Consultation
The experienced criminal and drug defense attorneys at Lombardi & Lombardi P.A. can protect your constitutional rights. Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to seek alternatives to prison for prescription drug offenses, including treatment and drug counseling programs.
To protect your freedom and your future, turn to the experienced NJ drug crime defense lawyers at Lombardi and Lombardi. To schedule your free consultation today, call us or simply use our online contact form.