The recreational use of prescription drugs has become an increasingly pervasive public health issue over the past few decades. Xanax (alprazolam), which is less commonly known by the alternative brand name Niravam, is one of the most popular prescription drugs that is sold and used for recreational purposes in New Jersey. Xanax possession arrests are becoming increasingly commonplace, and young people like high schoolers and college students are among the most vulnerable groups.
New Jersey prescription drug laws create extremely tough penalties for adults and even teenagers who are found guilty of possession or distribution of Xanax. If you or your son or daughter was arrested for selling Xanax, possessing Xanax, or forging a prescription for Xanax in Atlantic City, it is vital that you seek highly skilled legal representation immediately. Make sure you receive the vigorous defense you are entitled to. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 for a free and confidential legal consultation.
Was Your Child Charged with Possessing or Distributing Xanax Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5?
A drug that is legal only with a prescription is called a “legend” drug. New Jersey’s criminal statute for the unauthorized use, possession, and distribution of legend drugs like Xanax can be found at N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-10.5.
If you have a valid prescription from an authorized physician, Xanax is legal to possess. However, in the absence of a valid prescription, Xanax possession becomes a very serious criminal offense. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) presently categorizes Xanax as a Schedule IV substance, a category which also includes Ambien and Valium.
Having Xanax in your possession, or under your control, is not the only act that can give rise to prescription drug charges in Atlantic City. Under state law, the unauthorized distribution of Xanax, sale of Xanax, or possession of Xanax with intent to distribute it to others can also result in substantial penalties. Additionally, it is a criminal act to forge a prescription in order to obtain Xanax, such as forging a physician’s signature.
People of all ages are regularly charged with Xanax possession in Atlantic City. However, recreational drug allegations are especially common among juveniles and teenagers. If your son or daughter was arrested for Xanax crimes, you need to contact a drug possession defense lawyer right away about your child’s case.
What Are the Penalties for Xanax Possession in NJ if You Have No Criminal Record?
Most states classify minor crimes as misdemeanors, and major crimes as felonies. New Jersey, however, uses different language. In New Jersey, misdemeanors are called “disorderly persons offenses,” while felonies are called “indictable crimes” or “indictable offenses.”
Felonies, or indictable crimes, are broken down into four groups: first degree crimes, second degree crimes, third degree crimes, and fourth degree crimes. The lower the number, the more serious the offense, and the greater the potential consequences.
Under various sections of N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-10.5, Xanax offenses can be prosecuted as crimes of the fourth, third, or second degree, depending on the circumstances of the alleged offense. The penalties for indictable crimes in New Jersey include, but are not limited to, the following prison sentences:
- Fourth Degree Crimes – Up to 18 months
- Third Degree Crimes – Up to 5 years
- Second Degree Crimes – Up to 10 years
The maximum fines for second and third degree Xanax offenses are much larger than the typical maximum fines imposed for crimes in this category. In most cases, the maximum fines for third and second degree crimes are, respectively, $15,000 and $150,000. However, the fines for third and second degree prescription drug crimes are $200,000 and $300,000 under N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-10.5. The fine for a fourth degree prescription drug offense is limited to $10,000.
Unlike indictable crimes, disorderly persons offenses are not broken down into separate degrees. There is a related group of lesser offenses known as petty disorderly persons offenses, but Xanax offenses do not fall into this category. The maximum penalties for a disorderly persons Xanax offense include:
- A fine of up to $1,000
- A jail sentence of up to 6 months
Atlantic City Defense Attorneys Handling Xanax Possession
Prosecutors are extremely aggressive about seeking tough penalties for defendants accused of possessing and selling prescription drugs without a valid prescription. A conviction could burden you with overwhelming fines, in addition to depriving you of your freedom for many months or years. Even teenagers can receive very harsh penalties, including being sent away to juvenile detention facilities.
In addition to the debilitating consequences that are ordered by the court, the defendant will also have to live with a criminal record. This can create serious obstacles when it comes to job applications, loan applications, entrance into certain programs or organizations, and other important aspects of your life.
If you, your son or daughter, or another loved one is facing Xanax charges in Atlantic City, it is critical that you contact an experienced prescription drug defense lawyer right away to start planning a defense strategy. For a free legal consultation, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.