Articles Posted in Prescription Drug

As the managing partner of a criminal defense law firm that handles quite a bit of prescription drug offenses, I have my suspicions concerning the death of Michael Jackson. Indeed, as his story unfolds, it appears that he may be no different than the electrician who overdosed on prescription opiates after suffering a catastrophic work injury or the firefighter who OD’d on oxycontin. The tragic stories go on and on, and the man in the mirror may have fallen like so many. The question which parents, employers, and others often express to me is – how can individuals obtain so much medication?  

There is no clear answer to this question.  We often find “doctor shopping” in order to obtain medication. There are also those instances where individuals with legitimate conditions seek excessive medication and then sell the excess. Another common scenario is a situation where a physician is simply writing scripts excessively or is otherwise acting unreasonably. This appears to be the explanation given by commentators in the Michael Jackson investigation and my experience as a NJ Prescription Drug Charge Defense Lawyer tells me that Mr. Jackson’s physician may be looking at some criminal problems down the road. I would also not be surprised if physicians find themselves responding to the same types of civil claims that confront the New Jersey Medical Malpractice Lawyers in our state.

Is this going to be another Anna Nicole saga?  I have my prediction but I will keep it to myself.  Irrespective, I would definitely consult an attorney if I was Michael’s physician.

Possession Without a Valid Prescription: it is a Fourth Degree Crime under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5(e)(2) to possess a pharmaceutical drug or medication without a valid prescription issued by a licensed physician.

Prescription Drug Fraud: in accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:35-13 provides that it is a Third Degree Crime to acquire or obtain possession of prescription medication or drugs through misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge.

Prescription Drug Forgery: an individual is guilty of a Third Degree Crime under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1 if he or she “makes, completes, executes, authenticates, issues or transfers any writing so that it purports to be the act of another who did not authorize that act or of a fictitious person, or to have been executed at a time or place or in a numbered sequence other than was in fact the case, or to be a copy of an original when no such original existed.”

As someone who attended college in the early to mid 1980s, I can remember the popularity of cocaine. The stigma attached to the drug certainly was not what it is today and, to say that it was in vogue in some circles, would probably be an understatement. I see a parallel between those times and what is going on today with possession and distribution of prescription drugs like oxycontin, roxycontin, xanax, vicodin, and other opiate pills.

All anyone has to do is open a newspaper or turn on the TV and there is no escaping a story about someone who has been negatively effected by prescription medications. The list goes on and on – most recently resulting in the overdose death of Cory Haim. Many individuals view the situation as an epidemic. I cannot say that I disagree based on what I am seeing in my NJ criminal defense practice. All walks are effected and we have even represented doctors, lawyers and pharmacists on prescription drug possession and/or fraud cases. There is no escaping, however, that the largest segment we are encountering are young adults who developed a fancy for opiate medication late in high school or college. The demise of these kids can be very tragic and we have even seen multiple deaths in our office. It seems that the drugs are readily accessible on campus or elsewhere and we know they can be as addictive as heroin. Notwithstanding the numerous stories of ruin and death from illegal prescription use, we are not seeing a reversal like we witnessed in the 80s when Len Bias overdosed on cocaine. While this trend benefits me and my firm financially, I sincerely wish this epidemic would end.

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