Americans love to debate whether marijuana should be legal in the United States. While several states are moving in that direction, the sale of marijuana is illegal in New York. In fact, criminal sale of marijuana in the first degree is the most serious of New York’s crimes against the sale of marijuana.
You can face a charge of selling marijuana in the first degree if you sell or plan to sell more than sixteen ounces of marijuana. It’s a violation of N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.55. A person that’s convicted of selling marijuana in the first degree can face up to fifteen years in prison and a fine of $15,000. If you have a prior conviction, you may face an enhanced sentence. A conviction for selling marijuana in the first degree is a class C felony.
How much time you end up serving for a conviction depends on a number of factors. The court reviews your actions and your prior criminal history. The judge can take the totality of the circumstances into account when they fashion a sentence that they believe is in the interests of justice. For a conviction of selling marijuana in the first degree, you can expect to serve significant jail time.
If you’re facing this charge, there are a number of defenses available to you. Our team of NYC criminal attorneys at Spodek Law Group evaluates every possible defense to determine the best course of action for our clients. Some of the defenses ask the court to suppress evidence. Other defenses attack the sufficiency of the evidence at trial.
A motion to suppress evidence
If you believe that law enforcement violated your constitutional rights to acquire evidence against you, you can ask the court to suppress the evidence. If the court grants your request, the state’s attorney can’t tell the jury about the evidence. In the case of a sale of marijuana charge, that often means that the state doesn’t have a case.
There are a number of ways that the police can violate your constitutional rights when they gather evidence. They can stop your vehicle without probable cause. They can search you or your home without a search warrant or without a lawful reason to conduct a pat down. A successful motion to suppress can be fatal to the state’s case against you, so it can be very helpful in your defense. If you’re going to file a motion of this nature, you need to file it before your trial.
Problems with the state’s evidence
Another possible defense to the charge of sale of marijuana in the first degree is to argue that the state’s evidence is insufficient. For example, if you never possessed the marijuana or didn’t intend to sell it, the state may not be able to prove its case against you. You might argue that you only had the marijuana by mistake. You might argue that you can lawfully distribute marijuana as a care provider under New York’s Compassionate Care Act.
Drug courts and reduced charges
While the State of New York has a system of drug courts, this may not be an option for you because the offense of sale of marijuana in the first degree is very serious. Your attorney might be able to negotiate a plea agreement in exchange for a less serious charge. In any event, the sale of marijuana is a serious offense, and you should explore all possible defenses and avenues for favorable treatment by the courts.