Penalties for Prescription Drug Possession and Distribution, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5 and Related Controlled Dangerous Substance Crimes

Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5, possession and distribution of prescription drugs without a prescription or authority from a legal provider is a serious crime. You can be convicted of an indictable offense, owe fines of up to $300,000, and be imprisoned for up to ten years. You may also be charged under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 and N.J.S.A. 2C: 35-5. All of these crimes can lead to prison sentences, loss of license, and heavy financial penalties.

You may also face the employment, immigration, and housing issues that accompany a criminal record. The level of charges you can be convicted of, and the amount of fines and jail time that accompany each conviction, depends on the type of drug, the amount of the drug, the location of where you possessed or distributed it, and whether you intended to distribute it.

As addictive drugs such as Oxycodone, Xanax, Valium, and Percocet become more accessible through non-legitimate avenues, more and more individuals, especially teenagers, are finding themselves facing criminal charges related to these drugs and the consequences that accompany them.

If you or a loved one face charges for possessing or distributing prescription pills without a prescription from a legitimate provider, it is important that you retain an attorney to fight the charges before it is too late. The attorneys at Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo have successfully defended hundreds of clients facing charges for the possession or distribution of prescription pills and other criminal charges in Union, Morris, Middlesex, Somerset, and Hunterdon Counties, and throughout New Jersey.

Under New Jersey’s Controlled Dangerous Substance Act (N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-10(a)-(c)) you can be found guilty in New Jersey if you “knowingly or purposely, obtain or possess, actually or constructively, a controlled dangerous substance” unless the substance was obtained pursuant to a valid prescription. If you had intent to distribute the drugs you obtained or possessed you can be found guilty in New Jersey under N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-5.

Who can give you a valid prescription under the Controlled Dangerous Substance Act? A licensed physician, dentist, veterinarian, or pharmacist.

What does it mean to constructively obtain or possess?

You can constructively possess drugs that are not actually on your body but are in your possession. For example, if drugs are found in your car you may be convicted of constructively possessing those drugs.

What are some of the different degrees of this crime and what punishments accompany them? In many instances it depends on the statute you are charged under. Charges that fall under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5 may have the following penalties and consequences:

  1. You can be convicted of a misdemeanor crime (disorderly persons offense): if you obtain or possess four or fewer dosage units of a drug not prescribed by a legal prescription or order.

    If you are convicted of this misdemeanor crime you can face up to 6 months in prison and fines up to $1,000.

  2. You can be convicted of a 4th degree crime: if you obtain or possess four or fewer dosage units of a drug not prescribed by a legal prescription or order if you do so with intent to distribute it.

    If you are convicted of this 4th degree crime you can face up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000.

  3. You can be convicted of a 3rd degree crime: if you obtain or possess 5-99 dosage units of a drug not prescribed by a legal prescription or order if you did so with intent to distribute it.

    If you are convicted of this 3rd degree crime you can face fines of up to $200,000 and 3-5 years in prison.

  4. You can be convicted of a 2nd degree crime: if you obtain or possess over 100 dosage units of a drug not prescribed by a legal prescription or order if you did so with intent to distribute it.

If you are convicted of this degree you can face fines of up to $300,000 and 5-10 years in prison.

These penalties could be in addition to those faced under other statutes and charges for the same allegations.

In some instance, you may qualify for diversionary programs such as Pre-trial intervention. Your lawyer can best advise you on this.

You do not want a conviction under the New Jersey Prescription Drug Act, or any of the other criminal charges that usually accompany these convictions, on your permanent record. You do not want to serve jail time or pay exorbitant fines. If these charges are pending against you it is important that you retain an attorney at Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo to fight the charges before it is too late.

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