Being charged with drug crimes in New York is a serious matter. The state has some of the toughest drug laws in the nation and a conviction can result in a lengthy prison sentence, fines and lasting damage to your reputation. With so much at stake, it is imperative to consult an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer.
Heiferman and Associates, PLLC is a premier criminal defense law firm that handles drug crimes in New York City, Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island. Founding attorney Justin Heiferman is a former prosecutor with extensive experience defending clients against state and federal drug charges. Our legal team has working knowledge of the applicable drug laws and a well-earned reputation for being fierce advocates. When you become our client, we will provide you with aggressive and efficient legal representation and work tirelessly to protect your rights and your freedom.
Types of Drug Crimes in New York
Drug crimes in New York are a confusing patchwork of laws that involve a variety of offenses, such as:
- Possession — Charges depend on the classification (e.g. “dangerous” or “non dangerous”) and the quantity of drugs involved
- Distribution — Commonly referred to as drug dealing — selling, distributing, or conspiring to sell or distribute controlled dangerous substances can result in felony charges
- Manufacturing — The manufacture of controlled dangerous substances (e.g. methamphetamines, crack cocaine), possessing materials to manufacture illegal drugs, and the cultivation of marijuana are considered felonies
- Trafficking — Involves the possession or distribution of large quantities of illicit substances, often across state lines, typically a federal offense that carries severe penalties
- Prescription Fraud — Forging prescriptions to obtain prescription medication (e.g. opioids, tranquilizers), attempting to fill legitimate prescriptions at multiple pharmacies (“pharmacy shopping”)
New York classifies controlled dangerous substances in 5 schedules, based on the drug’s known medical use and its potential to be abused:
- Schedule I — Substances that have no known medicinal use and may lead to dependency, such as heroin, MDMA (ecstasy or Molly), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
- Schedule II — Substances with some accepted medical use, but also likely to be abused, including cocaine, methamphetamine, morphine, oxycontin, hydrocodone, opium, and methadone
- Schedule III – Drugs that have some acknowledged medical use, but pose a moderate risk of abuse, such as barbiturates, anabolic steroids, or medicine containing small amounts of codeine.
- Schedule IV – Prescription anti-anxiety drugs (e.g. Xanax, Valium, Ambien)
- Schedule V – Substances that contain limited quantities of narcotics, or one or more non-narcotic active medical ingredients, typically found in over-the-counter medicines, cough syrups and cold medications
The penalties for the possession, manufacture or sale of controlled dangerous substances depend on factors such as the classification and quantity, prior offenses or convictions, and whether other crimes are involved. Nonetheless, the possession or sale of controlled dangerous substances can lead to misdemeanor and felony charges of varying degrees.
Although the possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized in New York, possessing marijuana is still illegal. Possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana is considered a civil offense: a first offense is punishable by a $100 fine, which increases to $200 for a second offense. Possessing more than 25 grams of marijuana, however, is a criminal offense, based on the amount. Possession of 26 grams (slightly under 1 ounce), for example, is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 3 months in jail and a $500 fine. Possession of 8 ounces or more is criminal possession of marijuana in the third degree, a Class E felony punishable by 1 to 1 ½ years in prison for a first offense.
Finally, the use of medical marijuana is permitted in New York for the treatment of qualifying debilitating medical conditions as long as it has been prescribed by a licensed medical professional. At the same time, medical marijuana cannot be used in a public place, and patients must carry their registry ID card while in possession of medical marijuana.
Contact Our Queens Drug Crimes Defense Attorney
At Heiferman and Associates, our legal team has extensive experience defending clients against drug crimes ranging from illegal marijuana possession to manufacturing and trafficking controlled dangerous substances. When you work with us, we will explain all of your rights and mount an aggressive defense.
Our experienced drug crimes attorney will conduct an extensive investigation, which includes reviewing the police report to determine if your civil rights were violated. If you were stopped by law enforcement for a traffic violation and the vehicle was searched without probable cause, for example, we can file a motion to suppress the evidence and move to have a drug possession charge dismissed.
Drug trafficking, on the other hand, presents a greater challenge, because these charges are often filed after law enforcement has conducted an investigation, often relying on confidential informants. Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to show that the amount of drugs in your possession did not meet the threshold for trafficking or that the government’s witnesses lacked credibility. Regardless of the drug charges you are facing, it is crucial to have the powerful representation we are prepared to provide. Contact our office today for a free evaluation of your case.