Tampering (N.J.S.A. 2C:40-17) is the act of diluting, adulterating, or otherwise affecting a cosmetic, drug, or food product without a consumer’s knowledge.
In New Jersey, Tampering is punished in one of two ways.
If you are a private citizen who is not a health care professional, you will be charged with Tampering as a third degree crime, which can lead to a prison sentence of three to five years if convicted, and fines of up to $15,000.
The good news here is that in most cases, a third degree crime carries a presumption of non-incarceration, meaning that you may be eligible for alternative, non-custodial sentencing.
The bad news is that the statute expressly welcomes additional charges, so if a person was hurt or killed by the act of Tampering, or even if there was significant risk that someone could be, you may face far more serious penalties.
The second, and more serious, approach to prosecuting Tampering is reserved for health care professionals or their agents, who prescribe, dispense, or administer medication.
When such a person has knowingly tampered with medicine, they will be charged with Tampering as a second degree crime, and face a sentence of five to ten years with fines of up to $150,000.
Additionally, the law requires that judges sentence health care professionals to a period of imprisonment, and may not suspend their sentences or apply non-custodial options.
Tampering is a serious crime in New Jersey, particularly for those in the health care industry.
If you’ve been charged under 2C:40-17, call Matthew Reisig today at 732-625-9661 for a free consultation with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney.