There are a large number of substances that fall under New York’s controlled substance laws. With the exception of marijuana, any substance that’s classified as a controlled substance in schedules one through five counts for the purposes of New York’s controlled substance laws. For example, substances such as Vicodin and Oxycontin can lead to controlled substance charges if you don’t have a valid prescription to possess the drugs.
Charges by degrees
Criminal possession of a controlled substance is actually several different degrees of criminal charges. The degrees are separated out by how much of the substance the person has in their possession. Fifth degree is not as serious as other possession charges, but it is still a class D felony. It’s punishable by up to seven years in prison under N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.06. If you’re facing a fifth degree controlled substance possession charge, it’s important to work with an NYC criminal attorney to explore all of the defenses available to you, because a class D felony can carry a mandatory minimum term in jail.
If you’re facing a fifth degree possession of a controlled substance charge, there are a number of common defenses available to you. In certain situations, you might have a complete defense to the charges. It’s also possible to consider alternative sentencing options such as drug court.
To convict you in a court of law, law enforcement has to be able to prove is that you knew you had unlawful possession of a drug. If another person put the drugs in your backpack to try to avoid their own criminal charges, you may have a valid defense. If you thought you were holding a valid prescription for a relative, that can be a defense. Your attorney can help you explore all of the options to see if law enforcement can prove this element of the charges against you.
Unlawful search and seizure
In the United States, we have the right to live without unlawful interference from the police. That means that the police can’t just stop your vehicle and search it. They can’t just walk into your house and look for drugs, either.
Law enforcement needs to have a lawful reason to stop a moving vehicle. They can only search a vehicle in a few specific circumstances. Likewise, law enforcement generally needs either an invitation or a search warrant to look for drugs inside someone’s home. If law enforcement didn’t do their job in a legal way, the result can be a dismissal of the charges against you.
Seeking medical care
New York has a law that allows people to seek help for medical emergencies. A medical emergency can include a drug overdose. New York has decided that it’s good for people to seek help when they have medical emergencies, and they shouldn’t have to worry about whether they’re going to face possession charges if they seek medical help. That means if law enforcement found you in possession of a controlled substance while you or someone else sought help for a medical emergency, you may have complete immunity to the charges against you.
If you agree to participate in a drug court, your attorney might be able to negotiate a reduction or a dismissal of the charges against you. Drug court is like an intense probation. If you complete all of the treatment and monitoring during your term in drug court, you can get a reduction or dismissal of the charges against you in exchange for your participation.
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