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New Jersey residents have been hearing a lot recently about a reported rise in heroin use in the Northeast. These alarming reports may point to new problems with illegal street drugs, but they tend to obscure the fact that the authorities are increasingly concerned with illegal use of prescription medication.

Recently, a New Jersey oral surgeon was arrested and faces drug charges after prosecutors say she fraudulently obtained prescription painkillers. Prosecutors said that the arrest came after local police and Drug Enforcement Administration officials conducted a three-month investigation, including surveillance, interviews and monitoring of the state's database for controlled substances. Police said they found evidence that on at least 36 occasions the 45-year-old woman made prescriptions for patients and then obtained the medication herself. The authorities said the woman was most frequently seeking the painkiller Vicodin.

She has been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, identity theft and obtaining a controlled dangerous substance by fraud. She was also ordered to turn over her license to distribute controlled substances.

Conviction on charges involving prescription drugs can be just as serious as conviction on charges related to street drugs. Penalties can include long prison sentences, hefty fines and long-lasting damages to personal and professional relationships.

The prosecution will be very serious about seeking a conviction on drug charges. It's imperative that those who are accused are just as serious about mounting their defense. A New Jersey attorney with experience in building defense strategies against drug charges can help the accused to minimize the damage to their lives that is brought on by these charges.

Source: Daily Record, "Hopatcong dentist charged with prescription drug fraud," Feb. 12, 2014

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