Defense Attorneys for Prescription Drug Charges in Ocean County, NJ
New research indicates that benzodiazepines, a type of pharmaceutical prescribed to treat insomnia and anxiety, are being used at very high rates even though the disorders it is used to treat are fairly rare. The misuse rate of “benzos,” the most common of which is Xanax, is approximately 17% and researchers found that the use of these drugs was associated with emergency room visits, substance use, mental disorders, and even suicidal ideation. With this in mind, New Jersey lawmakers and members of law enforcement have developed an aggressive approach to individuals who illegally possess, use, and distribute Xanax.
Common types of benzodiazepines include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin. These powerful drugs are classified as Schedule IV controlled dangerous substances (CDS). As such, use, possession, and distribution of Xanax and other prescription medications in this class are highly regulated under New Jersey law. You may have heard news stories of doctors at “pill mills” prosecuted for writing invalid prescriptions, but you should know that it is also illegal for an individual to have CDS, like a benzodiazepine, without a valid prescription, keep pills anywhere outside of the labeled prescription bottle, or share a drug like Xanax with someone else. If you have been charged with a Xanax related offense, it is highly advisable to seek knowledgeable legal counsel. The Ocean County criminal defense attorneys at Proetta & Oliver are here to explain the nuances of your Xanax charges and the options you may have to reach the best outcome. Please call our local office in Point Pleasant today at (848) 238-2100 to speak with an attorney who can provide you with a free consultation.
Penalties for Xanax Possession & Distribution in NJ
If you are charged with possession of Xanax or another benzo, the penalties you face if convicted will vary depending on the number of pills in your possession. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5, it is a fourth degree indictable offense to possess 4 Xanax pills or fewer without a valid prescription if the intent is to distribute them for financial benefit. This offense carries the potential of up to 18 months in prison and fines of up to $10,000. If you have 4 or fewer Xanax pills in your possession for personal use, this is a disorderly persons offense carrying up to 6 months in the county jail and a $1,000 fine.
If you possess more than 4 pills, the potential penalties increase significantly. Possessing between 5 to 99 Xanax pills without a valid prescription can lead to third degree possession with intent to distribute charges , which can carry 3 to 5 years of imprisonment and up to $200,000 in fines.
You can be charged with second degree possession of Xanax with the intent to distribute if you have more than 99 pills in your possession without a valid prescription. Prosecutors will point to the high volume of pills in your possession as evidence that you did not possess the drugs simply for personal use. If convicted of a second degree Xanax offense, you may be sentenced to 5 to 10 years in state prison with a presumption of incarceration.
I was charged with Xanax distribution for sharing some pills with a friend. Can I be convicted?
You may never have contemplated that you could be charged with drug distribution after trying to help out friend who has been suffering with severe anxiety. Nonetheless, under New Jersey law, if you give away 5 or more benzodiazepine pills—even if you give them away for free—you are guilty of distributing a controlled substance. Giving someone between 5 to 99 pills is a third degree offense and giving them 100 pills or more is a second degree offense, whether you were paid for the pills or not. If you share 4 or less pills, you must have some pecuniary gain to be charged with fourth degree drug distribution.
Is it a crime to keep Xanax in a container other than its original bottle?
Keeping Xanax pills anywhere other than their prescription bottle is a disorderly person offense in New Jersey. Even if the pills belong to you and you have a valid prescription for the pills, you can still be charged with a crime if a police officer finds pills in a plastic bag in your purse or pocket or in some type of container other than the labeled prescription bottle. It is also against NJ law not to turn over Xanax pills to the police if you find them somewhere and they do not belong to you.
If you are charged with one of these Xanax related disorderly persons offenses, your case will be heard in the municipal court in the city or town where you were arrested. A municipal judge will hear and decide your case. If convicted, you could be sentenced to up to 6 months in prison and be ordered to pay up to $1,000 in fines.
Xanax Defense Lawyers in Lacey Twp.
New Jersey law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts all treat prescription drug offenses very seriously. Sometimes, you can get into trouble without even knowing that you are violating the law. Unfortunately, lack of knowledge about the law is not a valid defense. If you have been charged with Xanax possession, distribution, illegal use, or another drug offense in Ocean County, contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers at our firm at (848) 238-2100 today for a free consultation. We appear in local courts in Manchester, Brick, Jackson, Lavallette, Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant, Lacey Township, and Long Beach Island on a regular basis. Our attorneys are here to give the information you need to navigate the road ahead.
Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. All major credit cards are accepted.