Long Island Possession of A Controlled Substance Attorney
Despite society’s increasingly tolerant attitude towards recreational drugs, possession of a controlled substance still carries serious risks. In New York, a criminal drug conviction can turn your world upside down. Besides lengthy prison sentences, as a convicted felon could be facing large fines, asset forfeiture, and even the loss of occupational licenses. If you’re facing drug charges, you need the aggressive drug crime attorneys at Barket Epstein as your legal representation.
What is a controlled substance?
New York’s drug crime statutes are broadly divided between controlled substances and marijuana-related offenses. Controlled substances are essentially any type of illicit narcotic, such as:
- Opiates and opiate derivatives (e.g. morphine and heroin)
- Hallucinogens (e.g. ecstasy and LSD)
- Depressants (e.g. GHB)
- Stimulants (e.g. speed and crystal meth)
These and many other drugs are categorized into various schedules. Included on these schedules are prescription drugs, which can either be possessed illegally or used for a purpose other than the one for which they were prescribed.
What does possession mean?
“Possession” can either be actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance. Actual possession is what most people think of when an individual is caught with drugs on his or her person. Constructive possession means that you had control over an individual possessing the controlled substance, or over a place where the controlled substance is located. Constructive possession is more indirect than actual possession, but is meant to punish individuals even if they are not physically present when the drugs are found.
The elements that must be proven for possession are:
- The substance was either on your person (actual possession) or within your control (constructive possession)
- The substance was a controlled substance as defined by statute
- You were aware that you possessed the controlled substance
- This possession was unlawful
These elements are important because they open up a possible legal defense. For instance, because the accused must have been aware that he or she possessed the drugs, a New York defense lawyer may be able to challenge the state’s assertion that the defendant knew about the drugs. Sometimes defendants are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time – at a friend’s house or in their car – when drugs are found. If the defendant wasn’t aware of the drugs, he or she may be able to escape a conviction.
How are controlled substance offenses punished?
In New York, criminal possession of a controlled substance is charged in one of six degrees:
- Seventh degree — The least serious charge, this covers the possession of any amount of a controlled substance (excluding marijuana). It is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison.
- Fifth degree — This is a Class D felony often charged for possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and knowing possession of at least a half gram of cocaine. It is punishable by 1 to 2 ½ years in prison.
- Fourth degree — This is a Class C felony often charged for possession of at least one-eighth ounce of cocaine, heroin, or other narcotics. This crime is punishable by 1 to 5 ½ years in prison.
- Third degree — This is a Class B felony often charged for possession of at least one-half ounce of cocaine, heroin, or other narcotics, or possession of the same with intent to sell. If convicted, you can face 1 to 9 years in prison.
- Second degree — This is a Class A-II felony often charged for possession of 4 ounces or more of cocaine, heroin, and other narcotics. If convicted, you can face 3 to 10 years in prison.
- First degree — The most serious charge, this covers possession of 8 ounces or more of cocaine, heroin, or other narcotics. If convicted, you can face 8 to 20 years in prison.
How Are Marijuana Offenses Punished?
There are six separate offenses for marijuana possession in New York:
- Unlawful possession: knowingly and unlawfully possessing marijuana
- Criminal possession in the fifth degree: possessing marijuana in a public place, burning or displaying it in public (covers amounts of at least 25 grams)
- Criminal possession in the fourth degree: possessing at least 2 ounces of marijuana
- Criminal possession in the third degree: possessing at least 8 ounces of marijuana
- Criminal possession in the second degree: possessing at least 16 ounces of marijuana
- Criminal possession in the first degree: possessing at least 10 pounds of marijuana
Are there ways that drug charges can be made worse?
Possessing a controlled substance can get you in enough trouble. But you may be facing more severe penalties if your possession is combined with one of the following:
- Proximity to a school zone
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Weapons charges
- Driving while ability impaired
- Prior convictions
What are some potential defenses to possession of controlled substance charges?
A criminal defense attorney may challenge the manner in which law enforcement found the drugs. For example, if the police did not have probable cause to search your home or vehicle, this could form the basis of a defense. Your attorney may also be able to challenge whether there was an intent to sell, as well as the amount allegedly possessed. A lawyer can also try to to have your charges reduced or even dropped, depending on the circumstances in your case.
Contact Our Long Island Possession of A Controlled Substance Attorney
New York’s controlled substance and marijuana statutes are complicated laws combining drug schedules with detailed legal terms and rules. The state is required to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, each element of whatever it charges you with in order to win a conviction. Having a lawyer is essential to defending yourself against these charges. Don’t risk your freedom and your future by going it alone. Contact the dedicated criminal defense lawyers at Barket Epstein today.