Essex County Xanax Defense Lawyers
New Jersey penalizes prescription drug crimes with prison sentences and expensive fines. So, when law enforcement finds prescriptions drugs like Xanax in your possession, you could be arrested and face the state penitentiary for having Xanax without a prescription. Read on to learn more about unlawful Xanax possession, distribution, and DUI offenses involving Xanax in New Jersey. If you have been charged with illegal possession, distribution, or intent to distribute Xanax, as well as obtaining Xanax by fraud, forging a prescription for Xanax, or driving while under the influence of Xanax in Essex County, New Jersey, contact the zealous criminal defense lawyers at our office for dedicated and skilled defense. We understand the potential impact of a Xanax conviction on your reputation and your future, and we will fight to protect you from the consequences of such an outcome in Nutley, Montclair, Verona, South Orange, Livingston, Short Hills, and throughout Essex County. We invite you to contact us for a free consultation today at 201-654-3464 or complete our form.
What is Xanax?
Xanax, or alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine that raises GABA in the brain. GABA, short for Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, inhibits nerve cells from transmitting chemical signals to other nerve cells. Xanax enhances specific nerve cell transmissions in the brain, which helps treat anxiety, depression, and panic disorders. Like another benzodiazepine, Valium, Xanax calms a person by raising GABA. Potential side effects of the drug include slowed or stopped breathing, drowsiness, memory loss, weight gain or loss, vision problems, and muscle twitching. Xanax can also be addictive if overused and may cause brain modifications and liver damage.
Xanax CDS Schedule Categorization in NJ
In New Jersey, certain drugs or their analogs are controlled dangerous substances (CDS) regulated by the state to protect the public. New Jersey schedules a CDS according to its likelihood for abuse as weighed against its medicinal properties. New Jerseyans may not sell or distribute a CDS without proper licensing, among other restrictions. Each CDS belongs to one of five schedules. The higher the abuse potential, the higher the schedule. For example, a Schedule I CDS like heroin, has the highest likelihood of abuse and addiction with little to no medicinal value. A Schedule II CDS is one with accepted medical benefits and use but is also rife for abuse and addiction. The same is true for a Schedule III CDS, except that the potential for abuse is not as high as a Schedule II drug. Ketamine is an example of a Schedule III drug that’s right. Schedule IV drugs have even less abuse likelihood than Schedule III drugs and include depressants, such as Xanax, Valium, and Ambien. Schedule V drugs are over-the-counter drugs with low abuse potential.
Is a Prescription Required to Get Xanax in New Jersey?
A physician typically prescribes the medication in pill form as a muscle relaxer for a patient suffering from various psycho-emotional mood disorders. The drug is legal only with a valid prescription from a licensed doctor.
What Are My Options if I am Stopped and I Don’t Have a Xanax Prescription in NJ?
Due to its moderate addictive properties, you may only possess Xanax with a valid medical prescription. Otherwise, you may be guilty of a crime for having Xanax without a prescription. Depending on the amount, you could face charges for possession of CDS or illegal possession of drugs with the intent to distribute.
The number of Xanax pills in your possession determines the crime degree of the offense. For illegal possession of four or fewer Xanax pills (possessing Xanax without a prescription), you may face a fourth degree criminal charge or a disorderly persons offense. The important distinction is whether the police believe you intended the pills for yourself, or to distribute or sell for monetary gain. The lesser degree applies to four or fewer pills that are solely intended for the person charged with the Xanax offense. This is a disorderly persons charge, which carries up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. A fourth degree conviction sentence includes up to 18 months in state prison and a $10,000.00 fine.
What Are the Range and Degrees of Penalties for Illegal Distribution or Intent to Distribute Xanax?
You face a third degree indictable criminal charge for more than four but fewer than 100 pills. Typically, this is presumed to be with intent to distribute in many cases. A third degree crime sentence includes a prison term of between three and five years. You also face fines of up to $200,000.00. The state can charge you for second degree possession with intent to distribute when you have over 100 Xanax pills. A conviction can lead to five to ten years in prison for a second degree criminal conviction with a fine of up to $300,000.00. The number of pills and other evidence suggests an intent to distribute, which is a second degree crime for illegal distribution, dispensation, or selling of Xanax. More than 100 pills is more likely evidence of an intention to sell the drug than keep it for personal use.
Are PTI or Conditional Discharge Options for Xanax Crimes?
Conditional discharge is a diversionary program offered in the municipal court to allow first-time offenders of minor drug charges a fresh start. Municipal courts handle disorderly persons offenses, municipal ordinance violations, and traffic violations, so your Xanax charge must be lesser than a fourth-degree indictable crime. To qualify, you must not have prior drug convictions, nor prior diversionary program participation. You must also pay a few hundred dollars in fees.
The program allows you to avoid incarceration in exchange for a probationary program of about six months to a year. Once in the program, you must stay out of legal trouble and pass drug tests. After completion of the program, your record is free of the drug charge, though the arrest stays on your record. You must wait six months to expunge your arrest record.
Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) is a diversionary program offered in the superior court to first-time non-violent offenders of indictable crimes who are likely to complete the program and gain a fresh start. Like conditional discharge, you must be a first-time offender of a third- or fourth-degree criminal charge and have no prior diversionary program participation. The application costs $75.00, and you must qualify for a prosecutor and judge to accept you into the program. You must remain arrest-free, follow your probation officer’s requirements, pass drug tests, and do whatever your program entails, such as counseling, restitution, or community service. The program lasts one to three years, after which the state drops your charges. The program is for non-violent offenses, typically lower than second-degree criminal charges. Thus, a second-degree charge disqualifies you, but there may be exceptions. A drug defense attorney may be able to get you into the program with a second-degree criminal charge.
Charged with Driving Under the Influence of Xanax in Glen Ridge
It is illegal in New Jersey to drive a motor vehicle under the influence of an intoxicating substance, including Schedule IV drugs like Xanax. The state punishes impaired drivers severely. Being under the influence of a CDS violates N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(b). So, when a police officer stops you for a traffic violation or suspicious driving, they may arrest you for a DUI and either illegally possessing CDS without a prescription or driving under the influence of CDS while driving. Unless you can show you had a valid prescription, you face drugged driving and possession charges (or distribution with many pills in your possession).
When you do not have a valid prescription, you face six months in jail and a $1,000.00 fine for driving under the influence of Xanax, a disorderly persons offense. You may also face other license and driving restrictions, fines, fees, and costs for educational and counseling programs, depending on the quantity and your driving under the influence of a prescription drug history. Along with driving under the influence of Xanax without a prescription, you can face a disorderly persons offense for failing to turn over illegal Xanax to an officer or for carrying it in a container that is not its original container from the medical provider or pharmacy. A disorderly persons offense conviction can lead to a six-month jail sentence and $1,000.00 in fines.
A drug defense lawyer is critical to your defense in many ways. For instance, an experienced attorney can help you get into a diversionary program when you face your first drug offense. The application is crucial to getting into the program in a superior court. The court wants to know that you can rehabilitate and will not re-offend. Helping you prepare your application and get ready for your probation department interview to get into the program is one way a lawyer is instrumental. A skilled criminal lawyer can also help you reduce your charges to qualify for a diversionary program or a lesser sentence. Attorneys plea bargain with prosecutors all the time and understand what will persuade them to reduce the charges or penalties in exchange for avoiding a trial with a guilty plea.
An attorney is most important when you face a trial in either municipal court in towns such as South Orange, West Caldwell, Belleville, Maplewood, Roseland, Cedar Grove, and others, or in superior court in Essex County. You are best advised and represented by a defense lawyer who knows inside-out how to investigate the charges and circumstances, interview witnesses and obtain necessary documentary evidence to defend you against the state’s charges. You could end up with a not-guilty verdict in the superior court or a judge’s ruling in municipal court. Ultimately, it is paramount not to try to handle your case on your own. You want a trusted attorney to advise and defend you throughout the process. Our Essex county criminal defense lawyers regularly handle prescription drug charges for Xanax, as well as DUI cases involving this benzodiazepine, and fraud and forgery cases related to alprazolam. If you have been charged with any type of Xanax office, contact us now at 201-654-3464. We assist clients around the clock and consultations are free of costs.