Prescription Drug Possession & Distribution
According to N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-10.5, it is illegal for a person to knowingly possess or distribute prescription drugs without a legitimate prescription from a licensed practitioner. You can be accused of violating this law in connection with prescription medications including but not limited to:
- OxyContin or oxycodone
Important Legal Definitions
As outlined in N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-2, the legal definitions of key terms in this statute are as follows.
- A prescription legend drug is any drug that, under federal or state laws, requires a prescription or physician’s, veterinarian’s, or dentist’s note for dispensation, requires an “Rx only” statement on the prescription, and is not a controlled dangerous substance or stramonium preparation.
- Stramonium preparation is a substance prepared from any part of the stramonium plant (i..e Datura Stramonium Linne, commonly known as jimsonweed) in any form (i.e. powder, cigarette, pipe mixture, etc.).
- A practitioner is a person licensed, registered, or permitted to distribute, dispense, or administer a controlled substance analog or controlled dangerous substance in performance of their job duties or approved research (i.e. a physician, dentist, veterinarian, laboratory, pharmacy, hospital, etc.).
What Is Constructive Possession?
If you allegedly possess an illegal item constructively, this means that the prescription drug may not have been found on your person but could reasonably be assumed is in your possession (i.e. in your car, bag, etc.). In cases of constructive possession, the prosecution will need to prove that you knew the prescription drug was there and had the ability to use or distribute it.
Consequences of Prescription Drug Possession & Distribution Charges
Those accused of illegally possessing or distributing prescription drugs can face different charges and penalties depending on the specific actions they allegedly committed and the number of drugs involved. Alleged offenders can be charged with a:
- Disorderly persons offense (i.e. a misdemeanor), if they distribute four (or less) dosage units of a prescription legend drug without a valid prescription or practitioner’s orders, or use a prescription legend drug recreationally (or for purposes outside of treating an illness or injury) or if they knowingly possess (constructively or actually) four (or less) dosage units of a prescription drug. This is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- Fourth-degree indictable offense (i.e. a felony), if they distribute (for profit), possess, or have under their control (with the intent to distribute for financial gain) four (or less) dosage units of a prescription legend drug without a valid prescription, or if they forge a prescription (or defraud another) to obtain or attempt to obtain prescription legend drugs, or if they knowingly possess (constructively or actually) five (or more) dosage unit s of a prescription drug without a prescription. This crime is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Third-degree indictable offense, if they distribute, possess, or have under their control (with the intent to distribute) no more than five but less than one hundred dosage units of a prescription legend drug without a valid prescription. This crime is punishable by up to three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000.
- Second-degree indictable offense, if they distribute, possess, or have under their control (with the intent to distribute) one hundred (or more) dosage units of a prescription legend drug without a valid prescription. This crime is punishable by five to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $300,000.
Get Help from Our Firm Today
If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges for prescription drug possession or distribution, you should immediately contact our criminal defense attorneys. Our legal team is highly qualified and equipped to help clients understand their legal options as well as potential case outcomes. We defend those facing prescription drug charges, including but not limited to:
- Juvenile offenders
- Pharmacy techs
- Healthcare workers
At Brickfield & Donahue, our attorneys have decades of combined legal experience and a proven track record. We understand that this is more than a case, and you are more than a number; we care about our clients, their rights, and their future.
Have you been charged with a drug and/or juvenile offense? Reach out online or call our office at (201) 574-7919 for a free defense consultation. Our attorneys can work to help you strategize a solid defense, mitigate the charges, and fight to protect your freedoms.