Drug Crimes - Possession, Sales, and Manufacturing

What is a Drug Crime?

Drugs that are illegal in New York are referred to as controlled substances. A crime in involving controlled substances can be anything from possession of a small amount to large scale drug trafficking. The most common drug crimes, in addition to these two, are criminal sale of a controlled substance, use or under the influence of a controlled substance, and criminally using drug paraphernalia.

In addition to illegal drugs known as controlled substances, a person can be charged with a crime involving prescription drugs. This occurs where the person taking the drugs does not have a prescription or is taking more than the recommended dose. The most common class of people charged with crimes involving prescription drugs are athletes or anyone who is seriously injured and needs relief from physical pain. This is because prescrption drugs are very addictive and people are unable to function without a drug that they initially were prescribed.

What Are the Consequences?

New York law distinguishes between possession and sale of a controlled substance. The most serious controlled substance charge is an A-1 Felony, punishable by up to twenty years in jail, while a minor controlled substance charge is only a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. If a person is placed on probation for a drug offense, the terms will often include a search condition, registration as a drug offender, no weapons or guns, drug laboratory fee, and court fines and fees.

In general, the degree that a person is charged with depends on the type and weight of the substance found. If a person has committed a prior felony in the past, then they are known as a predicate offender and their punishment will be greater than what is listed below, depending on whether the prior felony was considered violent or non-violent. If your crime involves crossing state lines, you could also face federal charges. Federal offenses carry even heavier consequences and penalties than offenses against the state.

Apart from the sentencing, there are the following other consequences which could negatively affect your life.

  • Suspension of your driver's license
  • Negatively affect your rights to child custody
  • Revocation of educational funding such as loans
  • Revocation or suspension of certifications or professional licenses
  • Ineligible to receive temporary assistance or food stamps
  • Ineligible for certain housing

A. Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance

  • Possession in the Seventh Degree is a misdemeanor in New York, which means a person can face up to a maximum of 1 year in jail. The crime is charged when: a person knowingly possesses a controlled substance.

  • Possession in the Fifth Degree is a D Felony in New York, which means the minimum punishment is 1year jail and the maximum punishment is 2 ½ years jail. The crime is most commonly charged when: a person possesses a controlled substance with intent to sell it, OR a person possesses cocaine, and once the dilutant or ‘cut’ is removed the remaining pure cocaine weighs ½ gram or more.

  • Possession in the Fourth Degree is a C Felony in New York, which means the minimum punishment is 1 year in jail and the maximum punishment is 5 ½ years in jail. The crime is most commonly charged when: a person possesses a narcotic drug (often cocaine or heroin) weighing 1/8 ounce or more, regardless of purity.

  • Possession in the Third Degree is a B Felony in New York, which means the minimum punishment is 1 year in jail and the maximum punishment is 9 years in jail. The crime is most commonly charged when: a person possesses a narcotic drug (often cocaine or heroin) with the intent to sell it, OR a person possesses a narcotic drug weighing ½ ounce or more, regardless of purity.

  • Possession in the Second Degree is an A-II Felony in New York, which means the minimum punishment is 3 years in jail, and the maximum punishment is 10 years in jail. The crime is most commonly charged when: a person possesses a narcotic drug (often cocaine or heroin) weighing four ounces or more, regardless of purity.

  • Possession in the First Degree is an A-I Felony in New York, which means the minimum punishment for this crime is 8 years in jail, and the maximum punishment for this crime is 20 years in jail. The crime is most commonly charged when a person possesses a narcotic drug (often cocaine or heroin) weighing eight ounces or more, regardless of purity.

Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance

  • Sale in the Fifth Degree is a D Felony in New York, which means the minimum punishment is 1 year in jail and the maximum punishment is 2.5 years in jail. The crime is charged when: a person knowingly and unlawfully sells a controlled substance.

  • Sale in the Fourth Degree is a C Felony in New York, which means the minimum punishment is 1 year in jail and the maximum punishment is 5 ½ years in jail. The crime is most commonly charged when: a person knowingly and unlawfully sells a controlled substance upon school grounds or on a school bus.

  • Sale in the Third Degree is a B Felony in New York, which means the minimum punishment is 1 year in jail and the maximum punishment is 9 years in jail. The crime is most commonly charged when: a person knowingly and unlawfully sells a narcotic drug (often cocaine or heroin).

  • Sale in the Second Degree is an A-II Felony in New York, which means the minimum punishment for this crime is 3 years jail, and the maximum punishment is 10 years jail. The crime is most commonly charged when: a person knowingly sells a narcotic drug (often cocaine or heroin) weighing ½ ounce or more, regardless of purity.

  • Sale in the First Degree is an A-I Felony in New York, which means the minimum punishment for this crime is 8 years jail, and the maximum punishment for this crime is 20 years jail. The crime is most commonly charged when: a person knowingly and unlawfully sells a narcotic drug (often cocaine or heroin) weighing two ounces or more, regardless of purity.

What Drug Diversion Programs Are Available?

Controlled substance offenses have their own unique rules and punishments from other crimes. A good criminal defense attorney will help you benefit from more lenient sentences and a variety of programs that substitute jail time with drug treatment. In general, most of the programs are administered in a special court called a Drug Court. If you complete the terms of your Drug Court, then a good criminal attorney will assist you to dismiss the charges, shorten probation, or avoid jail time. Although Drug Courts share many similarities, they also each operate in its own unique way. Please go to Drug Courts to learn more about the differences.

How We Can Help You

If you want to win or dismiss your drug case, Lavy Law is the best law firm to help you. As a former prosecutor who has worked on a countless of drug cases, we have inside experience on how to get your charge reduced or dismissed. In fact, we worked as a prosecutor in a county in California that is home to large scale methamphetamine laboratories. As a trial attorney who has tried drug possession, drug sales and drug DUI cases with every kind of defense, we know how to win your case before a judge or jury. Finally, as a counselor at law, we take a holistic approach to our drug cases by helping to connect drug addicts with free community resources. We know how to empower you successfully complete a drug treatment program like a coach would during a game.

We urge you to read our Recent Cases to see that we have won a case just like your own. If you are being accused of a drug or narcotic offense, Contact Us right away for a consultation.
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