Charged With Prescription Drug Possession or Distribution
Possession of a prescription legend drug is a commonly encountered charge in Monmouth County. Whether you allegedly possessed oxycontin, diazepam, xanax or some other pills, a conviction under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5 can have significant consequences. It is a crime of the fourth degree, in most cases, if you are convicted of possessing any form of prescription medication and this is considered a felony. And the situation can even escalate to a third or second degree crime where the charge involves distribution of a prescription legend drug. Like most any drug offense, the severity of the penalties for this form of CDS possession hinges on the amount or quantity of the drug involved. Irrespective, your best way to avoid these repercussions is to obtain sound legal advice and representation. In this regard, the lawyers at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall possess over 100 years of collective experience including time as prosecutors in Monmouth County. We handle both distribution of prescriptions and personal possession of legend drugs throughout this area including Eatontown, Howell, Ocean, Belmar, Hazlet and Manalapan. An attorney is available to discuss the facts of your case and guide you through this confusing time. Give us a call anytime 24/7.
Possession of a Prescription Legend Drug
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(e)(2), it is illegal for someone to “knowingly possesses, actually or constructively” a prescription legend drug unless it was properly prescribed by a doctor, physician or other authorized medical practitioner. For purposes of this law, “constructive possession” exists where the accused is aware of the presence of the legend drug and intends to exercise physical control over it. A prescription legend drug is defined under 2C:35-10.5(e) as “any drug which under federal or State law that requires dispensing by prescription or order of a licensed physician, veterinarian, or dentist…” The following is a discussion of important information you need to know in terms of possession and possession with intent to distribution (a.k.a. selling, distributing, etc.), this form of CDS .
Fourth Degree Drug Possession
It is a fourth degree crime to possess pills or other legend drugs in a quantity of five (5) or more dosage units. The fine for fourth degree prescription legend drug possession is up to $10,000. The jail time upon conviction for 4th degree possession is up to eighteen (18) months in prison. While a conviction also results in a felony criminal record, there is the possibility of filing an application for Pretrial Intervention and, if granted, a record may be avoided.
Disorderly Persons Drug Possession
Possessing four (4) or less dosage units is a disorderly persons offense. A fine of up to $1,000 applies to this variety of legend drug possession. Additionally, although a conviction is essentially a misdemeanor, the court may impose a jail term of up to six (6) month in the county jail.
Distribution of a Prescription Legend Drug
N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5 also applies to the manufacturing or distributing Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, and other medications, including opiate pain killers. In this regard, it is illegal to sell, distribute or possess a prescription legend drug with the intent to distribute it unless you are licensed to dispense the drug (e.g. physician, hospital, pharmacist). The consequences resulting from illegally selling or distributing prescription medicines depend on the quantity involved although the violation is always an indictable offense (i.e. felony). The following is a breakdown of the different grades of prescription drug distribution and other important information concerning this variety of 2C:35-10.5 offense.
Second Degree Crime
It is a second degree crime under 2C:35-10.5 for someone to distribute or possess with intent to distribute one hundred (100) dosage units or more of a prescription legend drug. The maximum fine for a crime of the second degree is enhanced for second degree distribution of a prescription legend drug to $300,000. An individual may also be sentenced to a prison term of up to ten (10) years.
Third Degree Crime
Selling or distributing at least five (5) pills, vials, or dosage units but less than one hundred (100) is a third degree crime. Distribution of a prescription legend drug in the third degree also carries an enhanced fine of $200,000. The period of imprisonment for this crime of the second degree is 3-5 years.
Fourth Degree Crime
If you are convicted of distribution of four (4) or fewer doses/pills of CDS that constitute a prescription legend drug, 2C:35-10.5 makes it a fourth degree crime. The punishment for fourth degree distribution includes up to 18 months in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Material Elements of a Prescription Distribution Offense
There are three elements to distribution of prescription CDS. Each element must be established beyond reasonable doubt. First, the prosecutor must establish that the accused had the purpose to derive a pecuniary/monetary gain. Second, the state must prove the dosage amount for the grade of offense charged (i.e. less than 5 for 4th degree, 5-99 for a 3rd degree and 100 or more for a 2nd degree). Third, the prosecution must prove that you distributed or possessed the drug with intent to distribute it.
Defenses To A Prescription Drug Charge
There are several defenses that exist to a CDS offense filed in accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5. The following is a summary of each of these potential defenses.
- Valid Prescription Defense. It is an affirmative defense under 2C:35-10.5 if the prescription drugs were obtained legally from a licensed medical professional.
- Acting Within The Scope of Employment or Profession. If the accused is a licensed pharmacist, doctor, researcher, distributor, or any practitioner licensed by law to prescribe medication, he or she may possess an affirmative defense.
- De Minimis Defense. The defense applies if three (3) elements exist. First, the defendant must show that they unlawfully received no more than six dosage units within a 24 hour period. Second, the prescription legend drug or stramonium must have been lawfully prescribed to the person from whom it was received and, third, the defendant must have possessed the substance solely for personal use.
Freehold NJ Prescription Legend Drug Possession & Distribution Lawyers
Possession of a prescription legend is a serious offense with fines and jail being are even worse if you have been accused of distributing these drugs. In addition, all CDS charges carry a mandatory driver’s license suspension that can reach 24 months. These are all great reasons for you to call our Freehold Prescription Drug Lawyers for an immediate consultation at 732-462-1197. Here at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, we have over a hundred years of collective experience defending cases in Monmouth County including prescription arrests in Asbury Park, Long Branch, Marlboro, Middletown, Red Bank, and Keansburg. Our attorneys are former prosecutors within this county and can be reached for a free consultation now.