Prescription drugs may seem much different from the street drugs you know as cocaine and heroin. Unfortunately, like their street counterparts, they can become very addictive. What may start as harmless pain relief from an injury could quickly evolve into a terrible addiction similar to that of harder drugs. Under New Jersey law, pharmaceuticals are considered Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) and can only be distributed by a person licensed to do so: a medical professional or a pharmacist, and the person in possession must have a prescription by a licensed doctor. There are many offenses that can arise out of prescriptions drugs: prescription fraud, prescription forgery, drug possession and drug distribution, and theft.
The New Jersey Criminal Code N.J.S.A. 2C:35-15 states: it shall be unlawful to any person to acquire or obtain possession of a controlled dangerous substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge. Violation of this criminal code is a Third Degree Crime. The elements for this violation are as follows: (1) the defendant acquired or obtained possession of the pharmaceuticals; and (2) the defendant used misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge to obtain the prescription drugs. The punishment for this is 3-5 years in prison and up to a $50,000 penalty.
This offense is similar to prescription fraud, and the elements mentioned above are virtually the same. The New Jersey Criminal Code N.J.S.A. 2C: 21-1 states that:
A person is guilty of forgery if, with purpose to defraud or injure anyone, or with knowledge that he is facilitating a fraud or injury to be perpetrated by anyone, the actor:
- Alters or changes any writing of another without his/her authorization; or
- Makes, completes, executes, authenticates, issues or transfers any writing so that it purports to be the act of another who did not authorize that act or of a fictitious person, or to have been executed at a time or place or in a numbered sequence other than was in fact the case, or to be a copy of an original when no such original existed.
This offense comes with a 3-5 year prison sentence and is classified as a third degree crime.
New Jersey Prescription Drug Possession and Prescription Drug Distribution Law
Under the New Jersey Criminal Code, N.J.S.A. 2C: 35-10.5:
A person who knowingly:
- Distributes a prescription drug lesser than 4 dosage units is considered a disorderly person offense punishable up to 6 months in jail and a fine up to $1,000;
- Distributes for money, possesses, or intends to distribute for money in lesser than four dosage units is a fourth degree offense punishable by 18 months in prison;
- Distributes or possesses, or intends to distribute in an amount of less than 100 but more than 5 dosages is a third degree offense punishable by 3-5 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000;
- Distributes or possesses or intends to distribute in an amount of 100 or more dosages is a second degree offense punishable by 5-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $300,000.
This type of theft is governed under the New Jersey Criminal Code N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3, for theft, and for prescription fraud and forgery as well. Theft constitutes fraudulently filling a prescription pad. These charges usually constitute third degree offenses with fines not to exceed $100,000 and up to 5 years in prison.
If you are facing a prescription drug charge, you need an experienced attorney to help you fight you them. I’m defense attorney Leon Matchin and I have the necessary experience to defend you against these charges and ensure your rights are protected. Call today for a free consultation at (732) 662-7658.