Drug related offenses are common in New York but that it doesn’t mean that they warrant less attention than other crimes. Getting caught with a controlled substance can ruin your life in many ways. An arrest and subsequent conviction of a drug possession charge can result in serious penalties that range from massive monetary fines to jail sentences. Spending time in jail puts a marker on your record, which can make it hard to advance professionally. Alternatively, paying a hefty lump sum in penalties may leave you in financial strains for a long time.
There is also the destruction that a conviction will cause to your various relationships. It is why an accused person should find a reputable drug trafficking attorney to provide the necessary representation. Drug trafficking is one of the specialty areas we cover at Spodek Law Group. Our lawyers in the Bronx have dealt with various cases that involve charges of drug possession and distribution.
NY Drug Possession and Distribution Laws
According to federal and New York laws, it is unlawful for an individual to possess illegal drugs, which include methamphetamine, marijuana, and cocaine, among others. Owning the chemicals used in manufacturing controlled substances is also an offense. However, marijuana-related offenses and crimes involving controlled substances are classified into different categories in NYC.
Whether the charges involve a controlled substance or marijuana, the prosecutor must provide proof to convict the accused of an offense beyond reasonable doubt. This process requires four elements. One, the prosecutor must show that the defendant was aware that the drug falls into the category of a “controlled substance.” Secondly, the drug was in the ownership of the accused. The prosecutor must also prove that the defendant was aware of the possession, and lastly, that the possession was illegal.
The law classifies possession of a drug as physical or constructive, meaning that the accused had control of the drug. In instances of constructive possession, the prosecutor only has to show that the defendant had control over the location or the person who was handling the drug even if the accused was not physically present.
Penalties for Drug Possession and Distribution in the Bronx, New York
New York has some of the strictest laws on possession of controlled substances. Felonies involving drug trafficking fall into many categories, which can make it more complicated for an accused person, hence the need for an experienced lawyer.
Class A-1 felonies refer to the possession of controlled substances that weigh more 8 ounces and contain 5,760 mm of methadone or a narcotic drug. A defendant who has been accused of this offense can get a fine of $100,000 or a jail term of between 8 and 20 years. For crimes that fall into Class B to E, the monetary fines are between $15,000 and $30,000 with imprisonment sentences ranging from 1 year to a maximum of 9. An accused person charged with marijuana possession faces a penalty of no more than $250 and 15 days or less in jail.
Possession charges carry less punishment than crimes of intent to distribute and to manufacture. All cases involving the distribution of a controlled substance in New York are classified as felonies, and they are in five levels. A first time offender in a fifth-degree felony charge can get a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 2.5 years imprisonment. Penalties for first-degree felonies range from 12-20 years for second felony offenders to 8-20 years for non-major dealers to life imprisonment for major traffickers.
Defenses for Drug Trafficking Charges
A Bronx drug trafficking attorney has several approaches when mounting a defense, and the most suitable one depends on a specific case.
Marijuana Exceptions- a person charged with possession of marijuana may have a legitimate reason for it, so an attorney can explore the “temporary and lawful possession” defense. In New York, certain conditions, such as illnesses that cause chronic pain, cancer, and HIV qualify marijuana as a course of treatment. Patients on medical marijuana are legally allowed to have a 30-day supply, but NYC does not allow public use and patients must have their registry cards when carrying the substance.
Proving Control- in instances of constructive possession, the defense lawyer can show that the defendant did not have dominion over the person caught with a controlled substance. The lawyer can argue that the accused lacks the skills, means, or knowledge to exert control on the physical location or another individual.
Illegal search and seizure- Searches conducted by the police that result in arrests must follow strict protocols. Your Bronx drug trafficking lawyer can evaluate your arrest and see if the officers violated any regulations. The laws governing car searches are slightly different from the rest, so an attorney will factor that in as well.
Other defense options such as infancy for defendants under 16 years, lack of intent, and insufficient quantity can help get rid of the charges or minimize the penalties. Federal and state laws are subject to change, so a defendant may not be aware of rules that apply in particular situations. Even the simplest drug possession charge can turn into a complex situation, so call our Bronx drug trafficking lawyers for quality representation and an unrivaled dedication to finding the most appropriate defense.