New Jersey Prescription Drug Charges

New Jersey Prescription Drug Offense Lawyers

pharmacist writing a prescription for drugs obtained legally

Numerous prescription medications are in fact powerful and addictive painkillers, opiates and psychotropic medications for which you can be arrested and jailed if you misuse, abuse or illegally manufacture, buy or sell them. Selling even fewer than four doses of a prescription drug illegally in New Jersey can be punished by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Being convicted for illegal use or distribution of prescription drugs, obtaining prescriptions by fraud, or for forging prescriptions in New Jersey will be costly immediately and a problem later if you apply for a job, school loans or scholarships, or public assistance.

If you have been arrested, received a criminal complaint or been indicted for illegal use or distribution of prescription drugs, obtaining prescriptions by fraud, or for forged prescriptions, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can assist you. With the help of our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys, charges against you could be dropped or downgraded, or any penalty handed down could include no fine or jail time.

You need to act now if you have been charged or you know charges are pending. We can begin immediately to develop a defense in your case. If your arrest was handled incorrectly, we may be able to have charges dismissed without even going to court.

Our firm has nine offices across New Jersey, and our drug crime attorneys have connections in courtrooms throughout the state that make it easier for our firm to resolve charges related to misuse of prescription drugs in a favorable manner. Call or fill out our online form for a free initial consultation with one of our experienced New Jersey drug crime attorneys today.

Facing Charges of Illegal Prescription Drug Use in New Jersey

Prescription drugs or pharmaceuticals are considered Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) under New Jersey Law and may only be possessed or distributed as authorized by law. In general, prescription drugs must be dispensed by a licensed doctor or pharmacist and used only by the person to whom they were prescribed.

If a person possesses prescription medicines or drugs, including opiates, painkillers, tranquilizers, central nervous system depressants and central nervous system stimulants, in a manner that falls outside of New Jersey law, the individual may be charged or indicted for a criminal offense.

An arrest and conviction for illegal possession or distribution of prescription drugs may lead to significant penalties.

Common charges and their maximum penalties in New Jersey are:

  • Prescription Drug Possession / Distribution: Unless you are a licensed physician, dentist, veterinarian or pharmacist, it is illegal to have prescription drugs that have not been prescribed to you. If you give them to someone else, particularly for money, you can be jailed and fined according to the amount of drugs involved. Illegally possessing five or more doses is a fourth-degree offense, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Distributing 100 or more doses is a second-degree offense, punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $300,000.
  • Prescription Fraud: Obtaining prescription drugs by fraud is a charge typically applied to obtaining drugs with a prescription written for someone else or with a forged prescription. By law, the crime is the use of misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge to obtain prescription drugs. Prescription fraud is a third-degree offense punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
  • Prescription Forgery: The act of forging a prescription is a crime in itself, though the charge is usually combined with prescription fraud (obtaining drugs with a forged prescription). Like prescription fraud, prescription forgery is a third-degree offense punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. Therefore, the two offenses are usually merged into a single charge.
  • Prescription Theft: Stealing a prescription pad, form, blank, etc. is a crime in itself, though it is often charged along with prescription forgery or fraud (filling out the form in an attempt to obtain drugs). The theft and other charges are usually combined and filed as a third-degree offense punishable by 3 to 5 years in jail and fines exceeding $100,000.

It is a disorderly persons offense for a defendant to be under the influence of a prescription drug that was not lawfully prescribed to them. The prosecution does not have to identify the drug but must prove that the accused manifested symptoms caused by the illegal use of prescription drugs. A person convicted of a disorderly persons offense may be ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000.

Prescription drug crimes in New Jersey often involve such drugs as:

If you know a little about how New Jersey law punishes indictable offenses, you may notice that fines for prescription drug crimes are statutory fines, and are much heavier than usual for the degree of offense. This indicates the seriousness of prescription drug crimes to New Jersey legislators and prosecutors.

The penalties available to New Jersey courts for prescription drug offenses should indicate how seriously you should take an arrest or indictment as well. A conviction for prescription drug possession, distribution or fraud or forgery should be avoided at all costs.

There are several steps to the criminal process in New Jersey, and an arrest or indictment does not automatically end in a guilty verdict. With proper legal representation by the defense attorneys of the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, there are multiple opportunities to avoid severe penalties or even a finding of guilt.

Common Defenses to N.J. Prescription Drug Charges

Unlike courts of law, police assume guilt when they arrest a person. But, despite what police may tell you about evidence against you, the prosecution has to be able to prove its case in court before it can obtain a conviction.

There are many reasons prescription drug possession, distribution and forgery or fraud cases are dismissed or charges are downgraded before a defendant goes to court. Defendants who go to court are found not guilty every day.

If you have been arrested on charges related to possessing, selling or acquiring prescription drugs, the sooner you put an attorney from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall to work for you, the sooner we can challenge the evidence against you or even how you were arrested.

An attorney from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can begin to investigate the charges against you as soon as we are engaged as your defense attorneys.

A simple case of giving someone some of your medicine may be handled with what is known as a de minimis offense defense. (De minimis means “about minimal things.”)

If a defendant can show that he or she distributed no more than six dosage units within a 24-hour period of a drug they had been lawfully prescribed to a single person solely for that person’s use, charges should be dismissed. This is applicable only to third-degree drug distribution offenses.

Otherwise, to prove a drug distribution charge, the prosecution must demonstrate that:

  • The items in question were prescription drugs
  • The items were actually distributed or held by the defendant with the intent to distribute
  • The prescription drugs were distributed or held by the defendant for pecuniary gain (to make money)
  • The prescription drugs were distributed in an amount identified by the pending charge or statute:
    • 100 or more dosage units to qualify as a second-degree offense
    • Between 5 and 99 dosage units to qualify as a third-degree offense
    • 4 or fewer dosage units to qualify as a fourth-degree offense

Additional questions we would raise and task the prosecution with answering before you could be convicted include, but are not limited to:

  • Are the alleged prescription drugs being used as evidence against you the product of an illegal search and seizure?
  • Did police have probable cause to stop and search you or your motor vehicle?
  • Were you detained or arrested due to racial, ethnic, socio-economic or other bias (profiling)?
  • Did a police officer find prescription drugs on you as he or she patted you down for a weapon?
  • Were you identified to police in a flawed or misleading manner, such as from an improper lineup?
  • Upon your arrest, were you promptly and properly advised of your Miranda rights against self-incrimination?
  • Can police demonstrate that the alleged drugs were actually in your “possession” — legally under you control?
  • Can police verify that the substances allegedly seized from you are controlled dangerous substances as defined by New Jersey law?
  • Are there “chain of custody” issues with police or the court’s handling of prescription drugs allegedly seized from you?
  • If test results are being used against you, is there evidence of malfunctioning lab equipment or improper procedures used to obtain those results?
  • Are distribution charges inappropriately based only on the presence of a large amount of cash, a household scale, plastic baggies, or other legal items at the scene of your arrest?

To create a solid defense for you against prescription drug charges, your defense attorney from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall will explore every aspect of the allegations against you. The burden of proof lies with the prosecution, and we do not believe in the proverbial open-and-shut-case.

The law in New Jersey governing possession of prescription drugs, distribution of prescription drugs, and prescription fraud and forgery is somewhat complex, and numerous defenses are potentially available when an individual is arrested, charged and indicted. Contact us today to schedule a free legal consultation. We’ll answer your questions and address issues you may not have thought of. We will look after your best interests.

New Jersey Offers Options in Drug Possession Cases

As we investigate your case, the evidence we uncover or problems we identify in the state’s case may allow us to negotiate a dismissal or downgrade of the charges against you. It is not unusual for prosecutors to agree to a plea bargain or to drop charges once we raise questions about the validity of their case.

When necessary, we go to trial in prescription drug cases prepared to demonstrate to the judge and jury that a not-guilty verdict serves justice best. If we cannot obtain exoneration, we may be able to get conditional discharge or probation if you have a clean record.

If it is appropriate, you should know that New Jersey law supports rehabilitation in drug cases. If you have a substance abuse problem and are ready to deal with it, the N.J. courts system offers two diversion programs for nonviolent first-time offenders:

  • Drug Court provides specialized probation with intensive supervision. Participants must agree to frequent drug testing and court appearances, and complete a residential treatment program followed by ongoing participation in a 12-step recovery program. Drug Court also makes counseling and assistance with job training, education and health care available to it participants.
  • Pretrial Intervention (PTI) requires an average of 1 to 3 years of court supervision. Participants may be directed to undergo psychological and/or drug and alcohol evaluations, complete a rehabilitation program and submit to random urine tests. After successfully completing all conditions of PTI, the defendant’s original charges are dismissed.

Additionally, New Jersey recently established a Veterans’ Diversion Program for active and retired members of the military who have been accused of nonviolent crimes and may have mental health issues. If such a service member or retiree has been diagnosed with mental illness, or exhibited symptoms of mental illness in front of law enforcement, family members or friends, he or she may be eligible. The program allows them to avoid trial and, upon successful completion of the program, have charges expunged from their records.

We can assist and advise you about the availability of PTI, Drug Court or the Veterans’ Diversion Program in your case, and/or discuss addiction treatment and recovery programs available independent of the New Jersey court system and how they might help you.

Our team will work diligently to seek the most favorable outcome available for you if you face prescription drug possession, distribution, fraud or forgery drug charges. When an experienced and dedicated criminal defense attorney like one of our N.J. drug crime attorneys is on the case, there are opportunities to avoid harsh punishment. Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall today to discuss how we can help you.

Meet with Our N.J. Defense Lawyers About Prescription Drug Charges

Don’t run the risk of the costly punishment allowed under New Jersey law for unlawful possession or distribution of prescription drugs. If you or a loved one has been arrested, exercise your right to remain silent and call our experienced New Jersey drug crime lawyers as soon as possible. We have nine offices across New Jersey and an initial legal consultation with the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall is always free.