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May 3, 2017

New York Penal Code 220.60: Criminal possession of precursors of controlled substances

New York Penal Code 220.60: Criminal Possession of Precursors of Controlled Substances

It is no great secret that New York, both the state and the city, have struggled with the consequences of drug and controlled substance abuse for years. In an attempt to “deal with the problem at its source,” the State of New York has made it a crime to possess certain chemical compounds known as “precursors” that are used in the manufacture of controlled substances such as methamphetamine (“meth” or “crystal meth”) and LSD (“acid”).

Since many of these precursor compounds are manufactured outside the State of New York (in some cases, even overseas), it is not uncommon for a federal law enforcement agency such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) or the Department of Agriculture to be involved in a multi-state law enforcement operation that can lead to a trial on both state and federal charges.

Possible penalties for criminal possession of precursors

Conviction on a state charge of criminal possession of precursors can be punished as a Class “E” felony and can lead to:

  • Up to 4 years in a state prison
  • A fine
  • Up to 5 years of supervised probation
  • Any combination of the above

If, however, a person has been previously convicted of possession of precursors, or of manufacturing a controlled substance, the possible penalties can be “enhanced” (raised to another, more severe, level) at the discretion of the prosecuting agency.

Defenses against a charge of criminal possession of precursors

One of the best-kept secrets regarding Article 200 is that, under the Laws of the State of New York, it is not a crime to possess any or all of the ingredients identified by name in that statute. In order to win a conviction for violation of the criminal possession of precursors law, the State’s Attorney must prove that you possessed such items with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance. In the absence of unmistakable evidence of intent to manufacture a controlled substance, simple possession of the “raw ingredients” is simply not sufficient to convict. If, however, a defendant is found to be in possession of the apparatus (glassware, scales, packaging material, etc.) that would be used in such manufacture, packaging, or distribution of a controlled substance, these items could be used as evidence of intent.

Other defenses to a charge of criminal possession of precursors may include:

  • The defendant may have had a legitimate reason to be in possession of such substances because there are other uses for the chemicals themselves. As an example, some of the precursor compounds are routinely used to make pesticides or even fertilizers.
  • The search warrant used to seize the alleged precursors may have been improperly obtained or may have been valid only for other substances.
  • Laboratory testing of the alleged precursor substances may have been inaccurate as to the identification of the substances or the amount of precursor that was actually present.

Regardless of circumstances, it must be remembered that the federal laws governing possession of chemicals that may be used to manufacture controlled substances are, as a rule, much stricter than those of New York. It is therefore vital to a successful criminal defense that anyone charged with criminal possession of precursor chemicals contact a NYC criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after learning they have been charged under state or federal law.

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888-977-6335

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