Update to Marijuana Statutes and Expungement Under New York State Law

Under New York State Law, some marijuana possession charges are automatically expunged from your record. Under the new law, charges that are eligible for expungement are expanded. Other charges require a motion to be submitted.

Expungement means that the arrest, the court case, and the conviction are treated as if they never happened. For a definition of expungement see CPL 1.20 (45). Charges that have been expunged:

  • will not appear or show up on a criminal history background check.
  • cannot be used against an individual when applying for housing, student loans, or a job.
  • will not be found by law enforcement unless you are applying for a gun license or a job in law enforcement.
  • do not need to be listed on a job or school application that asks about convictions or arrests.

Statutes that are automatically expunged without motion include (

  • PL 221.05 Unlawful Possession of Marihuana in the Second Degree
  • PL 221.10 Unlawful Possession of Marihuana in the First Degree
  • PL 221.15 Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the Fourth Degree
  • PL 221.20 Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the Third Degree
  • PL 221.35 Criminal Sale of Marihuana in the Fifth Degree
  • PL 221.40 Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the Fourth Degree
  • PL 222.10 Restrictions on Cannabis Use
  • PL 222.15 Personal Cultivation and Home Possession of Cannabis
  • PL 222.25 Unlawful Possession of Cannabis, and
  • PL 222.45 Unlawful Sale of Cannabis
  • The Court will not send out notices to individuals that a case was expunged. The Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), the police, District Attorneys, and other law enforcement agencies will be notified.
  • If you would like to know if your conviction was expunged, you can request a certification of disposition from the Court where it was decided.

Potential Immigration Consequences

Non-US Citizens may wish to speak with an immigration attorney before taking any additional steps regarding their criminal record. They may need to file a different type of motion even if the conviction is eligible for automatic expungement.

The criminal defense attorneys at Heiferman & Associates have sealed/expunged major felonies including sale of controlled substances, burglary, DWI (driving while intoxicated) and more. Don’t let a past mistake get in your way. With a clean record, people will be able to pass background checks for employment. Our criminal defense lawyers assisted numerous clients seal records in New York and New Jersey. These successes include both felony and misdemeanor convictions. Additionally, our immigration lawyers can advise how your criminal cases can/will affect your immigration issues. If you or someone you know has a criminal conviction, we might be able to help seal (NY) or expunge (NJ) your record. Contact us today at (718) 888-9545 for a consultation.

Heiferman & Associates, PLLC discussed drug possession charges of controlled substances in New York.

New York Drug (Controlled Substance) Possession Charges

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.