JERSEY CITY and NEWARK. Possession or sale of opioids, like fentanyl or other prescription drugs can result in serious jail time and charges. As we here at the Law Office of Eric M. Mark have written about, even individuals who call the police seeking help for a friend or loved one for opioid addiction can face jail time for endangering police or face jail time for possession. The New York Times recently reported that individuals who have called the police to report overdoses have sometimes faced charges of reckless conduct when they were found to have fentanyl in their homes or were found to have handled the drug in a manner that could have exposed others on the scene to the drug. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were 72,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017, with the large increase in overdoses being blamed on fentanyl use. Accidental exposure to fentanyl is not a known cause of death.
The opioid crisis claims thousands of lives each year. Often it is the victims, their families, and friends who face drug charges. While many experts believe that these individuals need treatment, and not jail time, the justice system continues to seek jail time for offenders.
But what about charging the opioid makers, who started this problem in the first place? The New York Times reports that Purdue Pharma executives had hidden early evidence that users were abusing OxyContin. Prosecutors considered charging executives for the cover-up, but the Justice Department accepted a $634-billion-dollar settlement instead. The Times reports that prosecutors have often had to choose between receiving large settlements and jailing company leaders for concealing the public health risk of these drugs. The government often has an incentive in accepting a settlement because the money can be used for drug treatment. Yet, when settlements were reached, information about the drugs’ risk to the public may not have been released to the public. Doctors also lost out on learning important facts about the dangers of these drugs.
The reality is that prosecutors have been willing to accept money from large drug companies instead of pursuing jail time for executives who hid the truth about these drugs from the public. The irony is that the people facing real jail time and ruined lives are those who have become addicted to these drugs.
So, what can you do if you are facing charges for illegal prescription possession, sale, or for possession or sale of fentanyl? First, it is important to take these charges seriously. You could face jail time, end up with a criminal record, or face collateral consequences, if convicted. The Law Office of Eric M. Mark are drug possession attorneys in Newark and Jersey City, New Jersey who may be able to help you fight your charges and protect your rights as your case unfolds. Proper legal defense may be able to help you get your charges reduced or allow you to seek treatment instead of jail time. The opioid crisis has destroyed lives. Individuals need treatment, not jail.
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