For the prosecution to obtain a conviction for drug possession (or sale) in New York, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was knowingly and unlawfully in possession of a controlled substance. The possession of the illicit drug does not need to be physical. It may be constructive, meaning that the defendant was in control of the person or place where the drug was found. This means that the defendant does not necessarily need to be physically present when and where the drugs are found. Drug possession charges will largely depend on the type and amount of drug at issue. The level of charge will also determine the potential penalties a defendant will face. New York drug laws are notoriously tough, some of the toughest in the United States. Criminal offenses involving controlled substances are usually felonies and carry severe penalties in the form of fines and extended periods of incarceration.
What Are the Different Types of New York Drug Possession Charges?
The type and penalties associated with your New York drug possession charge will be determined by several factors, including:
- The illegal substance involved
- The amount of illegal substance involved
- Whether the illegal substance was being sold or intended to be sold
- Whether there were firearms seized with the illegal substance
- Whether the defendant had any prior convictions (any felonies, especially)
If you are found in possession of 8 or more ounces of a narcotic drug or a substance containing a narcotic drug, or in possession of 5,760 milligrams of methadone, you may face a Class A-1 felony charge. The potential penalty for these charges ranges from 8 to 20 years in prison, a $100,000 fine and forfeiture of money and property related to criminal conduct. A drug possession charge, under lesser circumstances, may be charged as Class C or D felonies, punishable by 3 – 9 years and 2 ⅓ – 7 years, respectively, for first-time offenders.
The type of controlled substance and the amount of drug you are found to possess has a big impact on the type of charge and potential penalties. For instance, unlawfully possessing marijuana for a first time offender will mean a citation and a $100 fine. It is not even considered to be a criminal charge in New York. If you are found to be in possession of more than 25 grams of marijuana or using marijuana in a public place, you can be charged with a misdemeanor. Possession of greater than 8 ounces is punishable by a felony.
In contrast, if you are found to be in possession of even a small amount of cocaine, you may face up to 15 years in prison and fines upwards of $500,000. Furthermore, a charge of possession with intent to distribute may be assessed depending on the number of drugs you are found to have been in control of. Penalties for possession with intent to distribute are very serious and can be much more severe than a mere possession charge. A conviction for ANY controlled substance charges, including misdemeanors, can lead to serious immigration consequences and deportation.
The sentencing guidelines above are always subject to change.
Criminal Defense Attorneys Fighting for You
If you are facing a drug possession charge, don’t lose hope. There are many ways to successfully defend against such charges so that they are dropped or the potential sentence can be reduced. A prosecutor must prove his or her case beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a heavy burden to carry. Heiferman & Associates is here to advocate for you. We will fight against all the charges you face. Contact us today.