If you find yourself facing criminal possession of a controlled substance charges in New York, it can be hard to understand exactly why you received a specific charge. In New York, criminal possession of a controlled substance charges are divided by degree. First degree is the most serious, and seventh degree is the least serious.
Different ways to face a third degree possession charge
All drug possession charges are serious in New York, and third degree possession charges are no exception. If you’re convicted of possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, you’re convicted of a class B felony. That means you’re going to serve at least one year in jail, and you might serve up to nine years in jail. If you’ve got a criminal history, you might spend even more time in jail, especially if your prior offense is violent in nature. With a prior violent offense on your criminal history, you can spend up to fifteen years in prison for a class B felony conviction.
Third degree classifications
To face a charge of possession in the third degree, you must have a certain quantity of a specific controlled substance. Not all substances are created equal in this regard. What might be a third degree amount of one substance might be a first degree amount of another substance.
The classification laws are very specific and can even be confusing, so it’s important to work with a skilled NYC criminal lawyer to evaluate your case for possible defenses. Marijuana is not included in charges for possession of a controlled substance charges. Marijuana is illegal in New York, but there’s a completely separate law for that.
Possession vs. selling
Possessing and selling drugs are two different charges under New York law, but intent to sell can be a third degree possession charge in some cases. If you have any amount of a narcotic drug that you intended to sell, it can mean a third degree controlled substance possession charge. Otherwise, there are separate and distinct charges for selling drugs as opposed to possessing them in New York. If it looks like you had plans to sell the drugs or if you had drugs in a large enough quantity that you couldn’t possibly use them all yourself, you might find yourself facing a charge of criminal possession in the third degree or a separate charge of selling drugs.
Defending yourself against the charges
Because of the seriousness of the charges, it’s important to evaluate available defenses such as law enforcement’s inability to prove the case or whether law enforcement found the evidence unlawfully. The police have to prove every element of the offense. That means they have to prove that you actually had possession of the drugs and that you knew you had possession of the drugs. If you had the drugs accidentally or they were far enough away from you and your control that they might not have been yours, a jury might take your side and find you not guilty.
Your attorney can also help you evaluate whether the police violated the constitution when they searched your property. If law enforcement stormed in and searched you or your property without probable cause and without a search warrant, you can ask the court to throw out your charges. Search and seizure laws are based on the United States Constitution, so the police can’t make their own rules when it comes to searching private property. Your case is important to your future, so it’s important to prepare every possible defense.