Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree is a class C felony under New York Penal Code 220.09. If you’re convicted of a class C felony, you face between one and five-and-a-half years in prison. Because it is a felony and because it carries a mandatory minimum sentence of at least one year of incarceration, this is a serious offense.
The degrees of drug offenses
Drug possession crimes in New York are divided by degrees. The more serious the offense, the closer it’s going to be to a charge in the first degree. Charges range from first degree to seventh degree with seventh being the least-serious available charge.
What charge you face depends on the specific substance that you had and the quantity that law enforcement finds in your possession. For example, if you possess a gram or more of a stimulant you can face fourth degree possession charges. For a narcotic drug, you need to possess only one-eighth of an ounce or more in order to face a fourth degree possession charge. In the case of a depressant, you must have two pounds or more to face a fourth degree charge.
New York law lists a wide variety of substances that can fall under the fourth offense possession charge. In each case, the quantity is a little bit different. It’s important to work with an attorney that understands the nuances of the law and can help you evaluate the case for possible defenses in this area.
One option for individuals facing a charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree is participation in a drug court. Drug courts are a relatively modern court program that aims to help offenders stop using substances. If a substance abuse problem might have contributed to your substance possession offense, you might be a candidate for participation in this program.
Drug courts are not easy. They’re only a viable option if you’re serious about stopping substance use. When you’re in drug court, you can expect strict monitoring to make sure that you’re not using substances. You can also expect to participate in any treatment programs that the court thinks might be helpful to assist you with achieving and maintaining sobriety. This can include substance abuse counseling.
If you complete the program successfully, you can receive a reduction in your criminal charges. The idea is that the promise of a reduced penalty can help you find the motivation to stop using substances. That way, you can become a lawful and productive member of society. If you’re facing a possession charge, we invite you to talk with our NYC criminal lawyers at Spodek Law Group about this option.
Other available defenses
There are other ways that you might be able to defend yourself against the charges. Law enforcement has to be able to prove what exactly the substances are. If they fail to test the substances or if they are not the substances that law enforcement initially claimed, you might see your case dismissed.
In addition, law enforcement has to prove that you are the one that had possession of the drugs. That means that you had to have the ability to exercise control or power over the drugs. For example, if you are a front-seat passenger in a vehicle and the drugs are under the driver’s seat, it might be hard for law enforcement to prove that you knowingly had possession of the drugs. Exploring every available defense to you can help you fight your charges and protect your future.
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