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New York Penal Code 221.55: Criminal sale of marijuana in the first degree

May 2, 2017

Americans love to debate whether marijuana should be legal in the United States. While several states are moving in that direction, the sale of marijuana is illegal in New York. In fact, criminal sale of marijuana in the first degree is the most serious of New York’s crimes against the sale of marijuana.

The offense

You can face a charge of selling marijuana in the first degree if you sell or plan to sell more than sixteen ounces of marijuana. It’s a violation of N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.55. A person that’s convicted of selling marijuana in the first degree can face up to fifteen years in prison and a fine of $15,000. If you have a prior conviction, you may face an enhanced sentence. A conviction for selling marijuana in the first degree is a class C felony.

Your sentence

How much time you end up serving for a conviction depends on a number of factors. The court reviews your actions and your prior criminal history. The judge can take the totality of the circumstances into account when they fashion a sentence that they believe is in the interests of justice. For a conviction of selling marijuana in the first degree, you can expect to serve significant jail time.

Available defenses

If you’re facing this charge, there are a number of defenses available to you. Our team of NYC criminal attorneys at Spodek Law Group evaluates every possible defense to determine the best course of action for our clients. Some of the defenses ask the court to suppress evidence. Other defenses attack the sufficiency of the evidence at trial.

A motion to suppress evidence

If you believe that law enforcement violated your constitutional rights to acquire evidence against you, you can ask the court to suppress the evidence. If the court grants your request, the state’s attorney can’t tell the jury about the evidence. In the case of a sale of marijuana charge, that often means that the state doesn’t have a case.

There are a number of ways that the police can violate your constitutional rights when they gather evidence. They can stop your vehicle without probable cause. They can search you or your home without a search warrant or without a lawful reason to conduct a pat down. A successful motion to suppress can be fatal to the state’s case against you, so it can be very helpful in your defense. If you’re going to file a motion of this nature, you need to file it before your trial.

Problems with the state’s evidence

Another possible defense to the charge of sale of marijuana in the first degree is to argue that the state’s evidence is insufficient. For example, if you never possessed the marijuana or didn’t intend to sell it, the state may not be able to prove its case against you. You might argue that you only had the marijuana by mistake. You might argue that you can lawfully distribute marijuana as a care provider under New York’s Compassionate Care Act.

Drug courts and reduced charges

While the State of New York has a system of drug courts, this may not be an option for you because the offense of sale of marijuana in the first degree is very serious. Your attorney might be able to negotiate a plea agreement in exchange for a less serious charge. In any event, the sale of marijuana is a serious offense, and you should explore all possible defenses and avenues for favorable treatment by the courts.

New York Penal Code 221.50: Criminal sale of marijuana in the second degree

New York City residents must abide by strict drug laws in order to avoid trouble with the law. While marijuana is a popular drug, it is still illegal to possess or sell it. The following is an overview of New York penal code 221.50, the criminal sale of marijuana in the second degree. If you have been charged with this crime, or fear you will be charged in the near future the time to act is now. Speak to a NYC criminal defense attorney today for advice and possible defense strategies that may help you obtain the best possible outcome in court.


New York law desbribes the violation of penal code 221.50 as follows:

Selling Between 4 And 16 Ounces Of Marijuana To Another Person
Selling Any Amount Of Marijuana To Someone Under The Age Of 18

When it comes to the type of marijuana that is included in this statute, the law states all of the following are in violation of the law, as long as they contain any amount of marijuana:


New York takes a broad stance on what it means to sell drugs. Many people are convicted of this type of crime even when they did not accept cash in exchange for marijuana. Merely making an offer to sell marijuana to anyone is enough to be arrested and charged with this crime in New York City.


According to New York law, violating penal code 221.50 is a Class D felony. The punishment that may be imposed upon those who are convicted include:

Up To 7 Years In Prison
Probation After Prison Release As Ordered By The Court
Fines As Determined By The Criminal Court

Being convicted of a felony can also negatively impact your life in many ways. Because a felony charge and conviction shows up on routine background checks, you may find it difficult to get a job or rent a house.

Possible Defenses

If you are facing a felony drug charge such as this one, it is of the utmost importance to hire a criminal defense attorney who has experience defending those charged with drug related offenses. Some things your defense attorney may do to defend you are:

Hire Investigators
Prove In Court You Sold Under 4 Ounces Of Marijuana
Prove Entrapment If A Police Officer Broke Policy During The Drug Buy

Your attorney may also recommended more lenient sentencing or offer alternative sentencing in exchange for little or no jail time. When making these decisions, the court looks at the character of the defendant and their prior criminal history. People who have never been charged or convicted of drug related or violent crimes typically have the best possible outcome.

If you are facing this type of drug related charge, contact a criminal defense attorney today. After a consultation, your attorney will let you know the best way to defend against these charges in court. Being charged with any drug related offense is stressful and you are probably uneasy about what the future holds. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side is the best way to obtain a favorable outcome that does not include extensive prison time or long periods of probation.

New York Penal Code 221.45: Criminal sale of marijuana in the third degree

Many people assume that marijuana is legal in the State of New York. This is not the case. Marijuana is still illegal, and courts take marijuana offenses very seriously. If you’re caught selling marijuana you face significant penalties including jail time.

The possible penalties

In New York, there are different degrees for the charge of selling marijuana. If you’re caught trying to sell a lot of marijuana, the charge is much more serious than if you’re caught selling only a little bit. Criminal sale of marijuana offenses are divided into five degrees. First degree is the most serious while fifth degree is the least serious.

Criminal sale of marijuana in the third degree is in the middle of the pack. It involves selling or trying to sell more than twenty-five grams of marijuana but less than four ounces. Criminal sale of marijuana in the third degree is a class E felony under N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.45. You can spend up to four years in prison if you’re convicted of the charge. That’s in addition to having to pay a hefty fine of up to $5,000 and spending several years on probation.

What counts as selling marijuana

New York law has a broad definition of what counts as selling under state marijuana law. Certainly, if you sell or try to sell marijuana that counts under the law. In addition, if you even make plans to sell marijuana you can face a charge of selling under New York law. It also doesn’t matter if you don’t charge for the marijuana. If you even give marijuana away for free, you might face a charge of selling marijuana

Ways to defend the charges

One way to defend yourself from a charge of selling marijuana is to argue that the state can’t prove their case. It’s up to the state to prove the charges against you. You don’t have to prove your innocence. That means that if the state can’t prove that you intended to sell marijuana, you could win your case.

You can also evaluate the charges for any possible defenses on the grounds that the police violated your rights. In the United States, law enforcement has to comply with search and seizure rules. This is based on the principle in American law that citizens have the right to live free from unreasonable interference from the police.

Even if you intended to sell the marijuana, if law enforcement stopped your vehicle when they didn’t have grounds to make a traffic stop or if they searched you without a warrant, you can ask the court to throw out that evidence. This can be an incredibly helpful way to defend yourself from the charges, but it’s only a successful defense in certain circumstances. The laws that relate to constitutional rights to be free from unlawful search and seizure are complicated, and they can change at any time. It’s important to work with an experienced NYC criminal lawyer such as the team at Spodek Law Group to evaluate all of your options.

Compassionate Care Act

You might also try to defend your case on the grounds that you are a licensed marijuana distributor under New York’s Compassionate Care Act. To assert this defense, you must have a licensed caregiver card before the offense occurs. You may distribute marijuana only to people who are your registered patients. If you meet all of the requirements to distribute marijuana lawfully under the Compassionate Care Act, this can be a complete defense to the charge of sale of marijuana in the third degree.

New York Penal Code 221.40: Criminal sale of marijuana in the fourth degree

With a few exceptions, marijuana is still illegal in the State of New York. That means it’s illegal to sell marijuana as well as possess it. Even though it’s legal to use marijuana with a prescription marijuana card, New York still takes marijuana offenses seriously.

Sale in the fourth degree

There are several different crimes that relate to selling marijuana. Crimes that prohibit the sale of marijuana divide the seriousness of the crime by how much marijuana the person tries to sell. The most serious of the offenses is sale in the first degree.

Sale in the first degree involves selling more than a pound of marijuana. The least serious of the offenses is sale in the fifth degree. That involves selling less than two grams. There is no distinction in the law for giving marijuana away as opposed to selling it. Both acts meet the definition of selling under New York’s marijuana laws.

Sale in the fourth degree involves the sale of twenty-five grams of marijuana or less. It’s a class A misdemeanor under N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.40. That means that you can spend up to one year in jail if you’re convicted of the offense. You can also pay a fine of up to $1,000 and spend several years on probation.

Possible defenses

Because the sale of any amount of marijuana is a serious charge, it’s important to consider every possible defense. At Spodek Law Group, our NYC criminal attorneys know that any marijuana conviction has potentially devastating effects on employment prospects, military recruitment and educational opportunities. If you receive a second marijuana-related charge, you can face enhanced penalties because of the prior conviction. For all of these reasons, it’s important to defend yourself aggressively when you face a charge of sale of marijuana in the fourth degree.

Compassionate Care Act

A common and viable defense to the charge of sale of marijuana in the fourth degree is that the person charged can legally distribute marijuana under the Compassionate Care Act. The Act allows certain marijuana growers to legally act as caregivers for people authorized to used marijuana for medical purposes. For this defense to work, you have to have a registered caregiver card before you’re charged with selling marijuana.

Other recognized defenses

To prove that you sold marijuana, the police have to convince the jury that you intended to distribute the marijuana. In cases involving a relatively small amount of marijuana, the state might not always be able to prove your intent to the satisfaction of a jury. In cases where the police need to show that you possessed the marijuana as part of the sale charges, they might not be able to show that the marijuana was in your possession. That can be the case if there are multiple people involved at the scene where events allegedly occurred.

Your attorney can also explore search and seizure laws to see if you might be able to suppress the state’s evidence in your case. If law enforcement stopped you or searched you when they didn’t have a legal right to interrupt your day, the state might not be able to tell the jury about evidence that they found. This can be extremely helpful to defending you in the case.

If you’re charged with selling marijuana in the fourth degree, it’s important to take the charges seriously. At Spodek Law Group, we have extensive experience helping good people who find themselves facing marijuana charges. If you’ve been charged with possessing marijuana in New York, we invite you to contact us today.

New York Penal Code 221.35: Criminal sale of marijuana in the fifth degree

\In New York, it’s illegal to sell marijuana. The courts view it as a serious offense. Sale of marijuana means more than just exchanging marijuana for money. If you trade something for marijuana or even give it away, you can face a selling charge. The law also covers cases where you only make an agreement or an offer to sell marijuana.

Sale of marijuana in the fifth degree

As our team of NYC criminal attorneys at Spodek Law Group knows, if you’re charged with selling marijuana, the seriousness of the charge depends on how much marijuana you sell. If you’re caught selling two grams or less, you can face charges of selling marijuana in the fifth degree. This is the least serious of the criminal charges for selling marijuana, but it is still a class B misdemeanor under N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.35.

If you’re convicted of a class B misdemeanor, you can spend up to three months in jail. You can also pay a fine of up to $500. Selling larger quantities of marijuana is significantly more serious. If you sell more than twenty-five grams of marijuana you can face a felony charge.

The Compassionate Care Act

One possible defense to charges of the sale of marijuana in the fifth degree is that you are a lawful provider of marijuana under New York’s Compassionate Care Act. Under the Act, individuals can grow or use marijuana lawfully for certain medical reasons. A lawful user of marijuana can select one or two caregivers to produce marijuana.

If you’re a caregiver, you may grow marijuana for up to five patients. Even so, you must have a registered caregiver card before you ever possess marijuana. If you have a card and law enforcement charges you criminally, the Compassionate Care Act may be a valid defense to the charges against you.

Other defense options

If you’re facing charges for selling marijuana in the fifth degree, there might be a number of options available to you. Some of these options involve trying to attack the legality of the charges and law enforcement’s ability to prove the charges against you. Other options include participating in court programs designed to help you stop abusing substances in exchange for reduced charges.

You should evaluate your case to make sure that the police can prove all of the elements in the criminal charge against you. If they can’t prove you sold or intended to sell the marijuana, that can be a valid defense. Your attorney can also explore options to ask the court to suppress evidence if law enforcement violated your constitutional rights. In many sale of marijuana cases a suppression of evidence results in dismissal of the charges, so it’s important to explore all of these options.

Drug court

Drug court may be available for a person charged with criminal sale of marijuana in the fifth degree. The person charged pleads guilty to the charges against them and enters the drug court program. While in drug court, they have to avoid using illegal substances.

In addition to avoiding substance use, a person in drug court has to get treatment for any apparent substance abuse issues. This usually means counseling. They have to pass drug tests. If the person completes all of the conditions of drug court without any violations, the end result can be dismissal or a reduction of the charges. This is a good option if you’re concerned about the consequences of a marijuana conviction on your criminal history and you’re serious about stopping the use and sale of marijuana.



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