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What Are the Penalties for Fentanyl Possession in New Jersey?

There is an opioid crisis in the United States. The number of overdose deaths in recent years are staggering, and they just keep increasing over time. There were over 100,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2021. More than 75% of those overdoses involved the use of an opioid like fentanyl. Because of its dangers, possession or distribution of fentanyl is a serious crime across the United States. Law enforcement wants to put a stop to the growing crisis of drug abuse and addiction and laws surrounding illegal fentanyl possession contribute to that goal.

The penalties for fentanyl possession in New Jersey are quite severe. If you are prosecuted for fentanyl possession you could face extensive fines and incarceration. Work with a Bergen County prescription drug possession attorney for skilled help during your drug case.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a Schedule II controlled drug, sometimes found under the brand names Duragesic, Abstral, or Subsys. It is a powerful synthetic opioid that is used to treat severe pain. It is around 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, making its risk for abuse or addiction extremely high. The danger surrounding its use is the reason it is classified as a CDS (controlled dangerous substance).

Although it is dangerous, fentanyl has proved beneficial in cancer patients and people who have undergone painful surgery. Fentanyl can only be distributed by a licensed provider and only with property authorization like in a hospital or via a prescription. Possessing or distributing fentanyl unlawfully is a serious crime.

Can You Go to Jail for Fentanyl Possession?

Because fentanyl can be such a dangerous substance, the penalties for possession can be harsh. There are generally two classifications that a person can face when they are being charged with a fentanyl drug crime. You could be charged with possession or possession with the intent to distribute.

Unlawfully possessing any Schedule II CDS, including fentanyl, is a third-degree crime. If you were distributing or were intending to distribute the fentanyl, your charges can range from a third-degree crime to a first-degree crime depending on the amount you possess. The following are the standard penalties for fentanyl-related charges.

Third-degree possession:

  • Fines of up to $35,000
  • Imprisonment of 3 to 5 years

Third-degree distribution:

  • Less than 0.5 ounces
  • Fines of up to $75,000
  • Imprisonment of up to 5 years

Second-degree distribution:

  • Between 0.5 and 5 ounces
  • Fines of up to $150,000
  • Imprisonment of 5 to 10 years

First-degree distribution:

  • 5 or more ounces
  • Fines of up to $500,000
  • Imprisonment of 10 to 20 years

For possession, a minimum prison sentence of 3 years is required. You may also face probationary periods, mandatory community service, mandatory drug courses, or rehabilitation. Aggravating factors may cause your sentence to be increased. For example, possessing or distributing drugs within 500 feet of a public park or 1,000 feet of a school zone can result in additional charges.

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