Distribution or Possession of Prescription Drugs

      Distribution and Possession of Prescription drugs is quickly becoming the most numerous drug offenses in NJ.  Powerful prescription medications such as Xanax, Oxycontin (Oxy, Oxycottin), Percocet, Adderall, Anabolic Steroids, Diazepam, Morphine, Methadone, Concerta, and Valium just to name a few, are among the most common drugs taken or sold without prescription.  

Getting caught distributing or in possession of these powerful substances can cost you years of your life in prison, massive fines, and a criminal record.  With over 40 years defending prescription drug offenses in NJ as Judge, Prosecutor, and private defense counsel, the attorneys of Avery & Avery should be your front line of defense if you have been charged with any drug offense in NJ.  For a free consultation, we invite you to contact one of our attorney's at 201-943-2445.


The following is a copy of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5, the NJ statute which governs criminal penalties regarding prescription drugs.  In general these laws are slightly less harsh than most fully illegal drugs, controlled dangerous substances (CDS).:

N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5, Full Title

a. A person who knowingly:

(1) distributes a prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation in an amount of four or fewer dosage units unless lawfully prescribed or administered by a licensed physician, veterinarian , dentist or other practitioner authorized by law to prescribe medication is a disorderly person;

(2) distributes for pecuniary gain or possesses or has under his control with intent to distribute for pecuniary gain a prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation in an amount of four or fewer dosage units unless lawfully prescribed or administered by a licensed physician, veterinarian, dentist or other practitioner authorized by law to prescribe medication is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree;

(3) distributes or possesses or has under his control with intent to distribute a prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation in an amount of at least five but fewer than 100 dosage units unless lawfully prescribed or administered by a licensed physician, veterinarian, dentist or other practitioner authorized by law to prescribe medication is guilty of a crime of the third degree. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection b. of N.J. S.2C:43-3, a fine of up to $200,000 may be imposed; or

(4) distributes or possesses or has under his control with intent to distribute a prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation in an amount of 100 or more dosage units unless lawfully prescribed or administered by a licensed physician, veterinarian, dentist or other practitioner authorized by law to prescribe medication is guilty of a crime of the second degree. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:43-3, a fine of up to $300,000 may be imposed.

Notwithstanding the above, a violation of paragraph (1) or (3) of this subsection shall be deemed a de minimis infraction subject to dismissal pursuant to N.J.S. 2C:2-11 if the person demonstrates that the conduct involved no more than six dosage units distributed within a 24-hour period, that the prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation was lawfully prescribed for or administered to that person by a licensed physician, veterinarian, dentist or other practitioner authorized by law to prescribe medication, and that the person intended for the amount he distributed to be solely for the recipient's personal use.

b. A person who uses any prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation for a purpose other than treatment of sickness or injury as lawfully prescribed or administered by a licensed physician, veterinarian, dentist or other practitioner authorized by law to prescribe medication is a disorderly person.

c. A defendant may be convicted for a violation of subsection b. if the State proves that the defendant manifested symptoms or reactions caused by the use of prescription legend drugs or stramonium preparation. The State need not prove which prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation the defendant used.

d. A person who obtains or attempts to obtain possession of a prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation by forgery or deception is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. Nothing in this section shall be deemed to preclude or limit a prosecution for theft as defined in chapter 20 of Title C of the New Jersey Statutes.

e. A person who knowingly possesses, actually or constructively:

(1) a prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation in an amount of four or fewer dosage units unless lawfully prescribed or administered by a licensed physician, veterinarian, dentist or other practitioner authorized by law to prescribe medication is a disorderly person; or

(2) a prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation in an amount of five or more dosage units unless lawfully prescribed or administered by a licensed physician, veterinarian, dentist or other practitioner authorized by law to prescribe medication is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

Notwithstanding the above, a violation of this subsection shall be deemed a de minimis infraction subject to dismissal pursuant to N.J.S. 2C:2-11 if the person demonstrates that he unlawfully received no more than six dosage units within a 24-hour period, that prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation was lawfully prescribed for or administered to the person from whom he had received it, and that the person possessed the prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation for solely for his personal use.

f. Where the degree of the offense for violation of this section depends on the number of dosage units of the prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation, the number of dosage units involved shall be determined by the trier of fact. Where the indictment or accusation so provides, the number of dosage units involved in individual acts of distribution or possession with intent to distribute may be aggregated in determining the grade of the offense, whether distribution is to the same person or several persons, provided that each individual act of distribution or possession with intent to distribute was committed within the applicable statute of limitations.

g. Subsections a. and e. of this section shall not apply to: a licensed pharmacy, licensed pharmacist, researcher, wholesaler, distributor, manufacturer, warehouseman or his representative acting within the line and scope of his employment; a physician, veterinarian, dentist or other practitioner authorized by law to prescribe medication; a nurse acting under the direction of a physician; or a common carrier or messenger when transporting such prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation in the same unbroken package in which the prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation was delivered to him for transportation.

Does this law apply to the prescriptions I had?

This law applies to all prescription drugs, including, Xanax, Oxycontin (Oxy, Oxycottin), Percocet, Adderall, Anabolic Steroids, Diazepam, Morphine, Methadone, Concerta, and Valium etc.  For a full list of applicable prescription drugs see hereWith over 35 years experience defending prescription drug crimes, the lawyers of Avery & Avery are your best chance at beating the case.  If you have been caught possessing or distributing any of these prescription drugs it is important to protect your future.  .  We invite you to call one of our NJ Lawyers for a free consultation, please call 201-943-2445.


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