NJ Law on Carrying a Prescription Drug in Another Container

glass bottle with red and blue pills

New Jersey imposes strict regulation on the possession of certain prescription drugs categorized as controlled dangerous substances. To validly carry a prescription drug, you must first receive a written prescription from your doctor. You must then take that prescription to a pharmacy or drug store and receive your prescription from a licensed pharmacist. If police find you in possession of certain drugs without evidence of a valid prescription from a doctor, dentist, or another medical professional licensed to write one, you can be arrested on serious drug charges. This can make traveling with your prescription drugs in a container different from the original, labeled container you received from your pharmacist quite risky.

If this happened to you, the specific charge you face and the associated criminal consequences depend on whether you actually have a prescription for the drug, how many pills were in the container, and whether or not you can provide proof to an officer upon request. In either scenario, you should seek immediate assistance from skilled criminal defense lawyer. Our team of dedicated criminal defense attorneys at William Proetta Criminal Law represent clients arrested for prescription drugs in Seaside Heights, Manchester, Toms River, and towns in and around Ocean County, NJ. Call (848) 238-2100 or contact us online for a free consultation about your case.

Do Prescription Drugs Count as Controlled Dangerous Substances in NJ?

Controlled dangerous substances, including prescription drugs, are those that fall within New Jersey’s five Drug Schedules. When it comes to prescription drugs, it is virtually impossible to receive a prescription for a Schedule I drug. Schedule II prescription drugs include methadone, oxycodone (OxyContin), morphine, hydrocodone (Vicodin), Codeine, amphetamines, and methylphenidate (Ritalin), among other drugs.

Schedule III prescription drugs include Tylenol with codeine, certain steroids, testosterone, and other drugs. Schedule IV prescription drugs include Xanax, Valium, Ambien, and others. Finally, Schedule V prescription drugs include certain minimal dosages of codeine, morphine, and more. Carrying these medications without a valid prescription can result in serious criminal charges for possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) in New Jersey.

How You Can Get Arrested for a Prescription Drug in NJ

Many people might find themselves without a bottle evidencing a valid prescription in their name, whether bringing drugs to a party, traveling with pills in a vehicle, or carrying prescription drugs on the street. For example, if you plan to share Vicodin, valium, Xanax, or similar drugs with your friends, you sell them for extra cash, or you bought them without having a prescription, you may carry the drugs around in a plastic baggie. Police look for this kind of evidence, and if they find you in possession of pills without a pill bottle from a pharmacy bearing your name, you may be arrested for a violation of NJSA 2C:35-10.5.

Similarly, if you have a pill container that separates various drugs out by day of the week or you keep your prescriptions in another similar container, you can still run into trouble if police find you in possession of pills and you can’t produce a prescription. Or perhaps you received drugs for back pain or some other ailment from a friend who was validly prescribed those drugs and either the name on the bottle does not match your state ID, or you have them in a container separate from the original, labeled prescription bottle. You should know that police can arrest you for a drug offense.

What if I Don’t Have a Prescription for the Drugs?

If you possess a controlled dangerous substance without a valid prescription, you can potentially be charged with an indictable offense under NJSA 2C:35-10.5. These charges are issued in varying degrees of severity, depending on the type and quantity of the drug that police find in your possession. Regardless of the degree of the charges, a prescription drug offense may result in months to years of incarceration and thousands to tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

What if I Have a Valid Prescription but the Pills Are in a Different Container?

Believe it or not, you can still be charged with a drug offense if you are found possession of a prescription medication in a separate container from the original, labeled pharmacy bottle. Under New Jersey law, it is a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-24 to have ANY type of controlled dangerous substance in a bottle, bag, or another container other than the original. There is one caveat, though. You can have up to a 10-day supply if you can provide the name and address of the pharmacist who provided you with the drugs, or the doctor or licensed practitioner who prescribed them to you. If not and you are charged with 2C:35-24, this is classified as a disorderly persons offense, which is punishable by up to 6 months in jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, and a charge on your criminal record.

Need Help with a Prescription Drug Case in Manchester NJ

If you have been charged with a crime for having prescription drugs of any kind in Ocean County, New Jersey, you should consult a local criminal defense attorney at our firm right away to learn about the potential ways you can minimize or avoid the consequences. Contact our Point Pleasant office anytime at (848) 238-2100 to speak with a lawyer free of charge.

William Proetta

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.