The two most typical ways in which New York criminal attorneys see drug possession charges in New York City are when a police officer alleges to have observed you purchasing the drugs or when you were stopped by a police officer for some reason and a search resulted in the substance being recovered. Either way, if the offense is your first arrest and there are no indicia of other criminal activity, the police may issue you a Desk Appearance Ticket (D.A.T.) in lieu of sending you through the system for up to 24 hours. Again, the misdemeanor Controlled Substances crimes do not include Marijuana related offenses.
New York Penal Law 220.03: Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree
Prosecutors charge Seventh Degree Possession when a person knowingly and unlawfully possesses a controlled substance. This offense is fairly straight forward. There is no minimum amount required to be charged with this crime - even a faint trace of heroin or cocaine can and will be used as evidence towards your. If the prosecution has the ability to test the substance and show that you possessed an illegal drug regardless of the amount, you are on the hook for the crime.
New York Penal Law 220.06: Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Fifth Degree
If prosecutors believe they can prove that you intended to sell the substance, or if you are alleged to have possessed controlled substances weighing more than an eighth of an ounce (500 mg), the charges could be elevated to a felony offense. More specifically, if you possess certain controlled substances in excess of one half ounce, 500 milligrams or 1,000 milligrams, your personal possession becomes a felony punishable by up to two and one half years in prison. Compounding matters, although a misdemeanor arrest or D.A.T. may charge only NY PL 220.03, prosecutors can elevate the crime to a felony. Obviously, consult with your New York criminal lawyer as to the possibility of this happening in your case as well as the defensive strategies that should be taken.
New York Penal Law 220.50: Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia in the Second Degree
The crime of possessing and Using Drug Paraphernalia in the Second Degree is another "A" misdemeanor offense. Generally, when you knowingly possess or sell glassines, capsules, vials, scales or other items under circumstances evincing the intent that you will use these items for packaging, sale or manufacturing or controlled substances, your are guilty of a paraphernalia drug crime. Often times, individuals arrested for misdemeanor possession find themselves charged with this crime when they possess these type of objects. It is critical to consult with your own New York drug and paraphernalia lawyer should you be charged with a paraphernalia crime and you do not possess any controlled substance. While the following legal defense may not be applicable in all cases, there are court decisions that explicitly dictate that a charge of Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia is not appropriate in association with marijuana charges alone. Vet this issue with your criminal attorney in the event it is relevant.
Our law firm serves clients in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Westchester County. Call us at 212.312.7129 or contact us online today to speak with our New York attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors about misdemeanor drug crimes.
In depth information on drug crimes, statutes and laws is located on Crotty Saland PC's New York Criminal Lawyer Blog and its drug crime section.