Criminal Possession of Prescription Drugs for Personal Use: New York PL 220.03

While there is nothing good about being arrested in New York for illegally possessing prescription medications and drugs in violation of New York Penal Law 220.03, if what you possessed was relatively nominal and for personal use, you can potentially avoid spending 24 hours in jail. Yes, you will still see a judge in a New York Criminal Court such as at Manhattan’s 100 Centre Street or Brooklyn’s 120 Schermerhorn Street, but if the NYPD gives you a Desk Appearance Ticket, aka, a “DAT” or “White Ticket,” you will have the ability to retain the right criminal defense lawyer and prepare your defense from outside, instead of inside, a jail cell. Simply, preparing the best defense to any arrest and criminal charge in New York is much easier when you are not custody managing your emotions and in a reactive self-preservation mode.

Despite the relatively nominal “silver lining” of a Desk Appearance Ticket, know that an arrest in NYC or anywhere in the State of New York for unlawful and criminal possession of a prescription drug is no different in the eyes of the criminal justice system than cocaine, crack, heroin or any other insidious Schedule I narcotic. As a controlled substance, whether you possess an opioid painkiller such as Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Morphine or Fentanyl, a Benzodiazepine such as Valium, Xanax or Klonopin, or an Amphetamine including Ritalin or Adderall, the District Attorney will charge you with Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, PL 220.03. This is a crime. This will never go away if you are convicted.

For most people with a clean criminal record and an otherwise respectable life or career, incarceration and a days on Rikers Island should not be the foremost concern. Yes, things can go “sideways” and you could end up having a prosecutor who decides your case is worthy of some jail time, but that scenario is atypical. Don’t let a criminal defense lawyer scare you into thinking that because it is permitted by law, you will be incarcerated for one year. However, if your life has a professional trajectory, for example you work or have a job as a teachers, lawyer, accountant, physician, college student or foreign nationals studying or working in the United States, it’s not jail that should send shivers down your spine, but how any mark on your criminal record from arrest and arraignment to conviction and sentencing will have adverse consequences.

Whether you have to disclose your arrest for illegally possessing a friend’s Adderall or Xanax on your U4 is something worth reviewing with your attorney. In some professional fields, such as a teacher or other New York City Department of Education employee, a mere arrest for PL 220.03 mandates a reporting of the same. A college student, accountant, or visa holder with an H1B or F1? Don’t let your fear cause you to make poor decisions that can have far reaching implications.

If you remain calm and controlled, your arrest and prosecution for illegally possessing prescription drugs for personal use is surmountable (read that multiple times while breathing slowly if needed!). You may not only have real defenses as they relate to the probable cause for the police to arrest you and how prosecutors can prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt, but whether you are arrested for illegally possessing Klonopin, Ritalin or Hydrocodone what is the evidence the controlled substance was yours if it was not recovered from your pocket or hand? Did the police instead find the controlled substance in a car or on the ground and, if so, how might that work to your advantage?

Even if you cannot beat the case on the facts or law, your criminal defense attorney may still be able to resolve your Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance arrest with an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD) or Disorderly Conduct. Both non-criminal, the ACD will be dismissed and sealed from your record after six months. Nobody, not even the District Attorney, wants to see a first or even a second time offender locked away with a criminal record in perpetuity. Whether they ultimately agree with you or not, you can make a strong argument for mitigation in most circumstances.

Don’t let anxiety of your prescription medicine arrest in New York lead you further down a road to bad decisions and worse results. If you retain the right prescription drug defense lawyer, you can minimize your exposure while moving forward with your life.

Crotty Saland PC is a New York criminal defense firm founded by former Manhattan prosecutors. Regardless of your criminal accusation, the criminal defense attorneys at Crotty Saland PC know there is no substitute for advocacy, experience and knowledge.

Call our criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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