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

By Spodek Law Group | May 3, 2017
(Last Updated On: July 26, 2023)

Last Updated on: 26th July 2023, 08:56 pm

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.

NYC Lawyers Criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance

Selling a controlled substance in the state of New York can result in an arrest and charge of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree as per the state’s Penal Code 220.41. In order to be charged with this crime, the drugs that you unlawfully possess must fall under a specific category.

Categories of Drugs That Can Result in Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree Charge

You can be charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree as per New York’s penal code 220.41 if the drugs you possess fall under any of the following categories:

• Narcotics that weigh at least 0.5 ounces
• A stimulant that weighs at least 0.5 grams
• Methamphetamine that weighs at least 0.5 ounces
• Lysergic acid diethylamide that weighs at least five milligrams
• A hallucinogen that weighs at least 25 milligrams
• A hallucinogenic that weighs at least five milligrams
• Methadone that weighs at least 360 milligrams

Example of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree

An example of the criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree under New York’s Penal Code 220.41 is that the police get a tip that a large amount of cocaine and heroin is being stored in a warehouse. The tip also includes information that the drugs would be distributed to a few people who would subsequently sell it. The police perform a stakeout on the warehouse and the individuals coming and going to and from it. During the stakeout, they notice a man entering the warehouse and exiting with a small package in tow. As the police tail the man, they see him giving the package to a woman, who then pays him cash. The police move in and arrest both the man and woman and discover that the package contains some cocaine and heroin. If the contents of the drugs amounted to at least 0.5 ounces, the man could then be arrested and charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree.

Defenses for Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree Charge

One of the most common defenses for being arrested and charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree is to have your NYC criminal lawyer challenge the amount of drugs found by the police. For instance, if you were found to have cocaine in your possession but the amount only came to 0.1 ounces, you could not be charged and convicted of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree.

Another common defense would be to point out that the search the police used was unlawful. For example, if you were at home and the police rang your bell and asked if you had seen any burglaries in your neighborhood recently and you invited them in, it would be considered illegal if they suddenly searched your home without your consent. This situation would be considered inadmissible in court, even if the police uncovered drugs. As a result, the case would be dismissed and you would not be charged.

Penalties and Sentence for Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree

Under New York’s Penal Code 220.41, a class A-II felony criminal possession of a controlled substance is one of the most serious crimes. If you are convicted of this crime, you could face fines of as much as $50,000 and life in prison. At the minimum, the prison term is three to eight years, but the sentence depends on other factors, including whether there is a prior criminal history.

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