What is the Penalty for Sharing Prescription Drugs?

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Is it Illegal to Give Prescription Pills to Someone Else in NJ?

The abuse of prescription drugs has become an epidemic all across the country and New Jersey law takes prescription drug offenses very seriously. To that end, it is illegal to share prescription medications that are prescribed to you with another person in New Jersey. It is also illegal to possess or use pills that were prescribed to someone else.

What is the Crime for Sharing Prescriptions in New Jersey?

When you think of drug distribution charges, you probably think of the classic image of a drug dealer selling heroin or pushing cocaine in a back alley. However, the increase in prescription pill abuse over the last few decades has changed the profile of your average drug distributor. Now, numerous individuals each year are convicted in New Jersey of distributing prescription pills like Vicodin, OxyContin, Adderall, and Percocet, that were prescribed to them to other individuals.

Contrary to common belief, you do not need to sell the drugs to be convicted of distribution. You can be charged with distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) even if you are just giving pills to a friend, regardless of whether they were in pain or had a medical need for the pills.

What are the Penalties for Giving my Pills to Another Person?

The penalties for giving prescription pills to someone else in New Jersey increase according to the number of pills distributed. If you only distribute four or fewer pills, the degree of the charges and penalties you face also depend on whether you distributed the pills for pecuniary gain.

It is a fourth degree indictable offense to distribute 4 or less pills to another individual for pecuniary gain. If convicted of this offense, you may face up to 18 months in prison. This means that the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not intend to simply pass along 2 or 3 pills to your friend to help with their pain, but rather that you intended to profit from your actions. If you simply gave the pills to a friend and did not receive any monetary benefit in return, this is a disorderly persons offense, which is punishable by up to 6 months in the county jail.

If you distribute between 5 and 99 prescription pills, there is no requirement that the prosecutor prove that you distributed the pills for pecuniary gain and, if convicted of this third degree offense, you may be sentenced to up to 5 years of imprisonment and up to $200,000 in fines. It is a second degree offense to distribute 100 pills or more of a prescription drug. This offense carries the potential of up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $300,000.

Where Will My Case Be Heard?

Distribution of prescription pill charges are typically indictable offenses. This applies to fourth, third, and second degree crimes for distributing medications. If you are charged with an indictable offense for sharing your pills with another person, your case will be heard at the superior court in the county where you were charged for this offense. In superior court, you have a right to be indicted by a grand jury and a right to a trial by jury. On the other hand, if you are charged with a disorderly persons offense for giving a few pills to a friend of family member, your case will be heard in the municipal court where the charges were filed.

Let’s look at an example to clarify. If you are facing disorderly persons prescription drug charges in New Brunswick, your case will be heard in New Brunswick Municipal Court. Conversely, a felony charge for prescription drug distribution will be handled in the Middlesex County Superior Court, which is also located in New Brunswick.

Arrested for Distributing Prescription Medication in NJ?

As you can see, if you are charged with distributing a prescription medication, you can face significant jail time and heavy fines. What you need now as a knowledgeable and dedicated criminal defense attorney who can successfully combat these allegations in court. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. The lawyers at William Proetta Criminal Law have a depth of knowledge and experience defending clients against distribution of prescription drug charges in Middlesex County, including Edison, Woodbridge, Piscataway, East Brunswick, Monroe, South Brunswick, and Carteret. Call our local Middlesex County office today at (732) 659-9600 for a free consultation and review of your case.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.