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New York Penal Code %c2%a7 220 09 Criminal Possession Controlled Substance Fourth Degree

By Spodek Law Group | July 17, 2023
(Last Updated On: July 26, 2023)

Last Updated on: 26th July 2023, 10:54 pm

Busted for Drugs in New York? Breaking Down the Charges for Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Fourth Degree

Maybe you got stopped and frisked and the cops found a few pain pills in your pocket. Or that “study buddy” you met on campus sold you what turned out to be meth, not Adderall. However it happened, you now find yourself charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in New York. Yikes.

The first order of business is sorting out exactly what “Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Fourth Degree” really means. Let’s break it down…

In New York, this charge falls under Penal Law § 220.09 and is categorized as a Class C felony, carrying up to 5-15 years in prison. Not the kind of thing you want looming over your head.

The key thing is that 4th degree possession applies when you allegedly have a controlled substance weighing 50 milligrams or more. That might not sound like much – a few grams at most. But the law is super strict about any amount that can be considered for “personal use.”

Some common drugs charged under § 220.09:

– Pain pills – Oxycodone, Percocet, Vicodin
– Stimulants – Cocaine, Adderall
– Anxiety/depression – Xanax, Valium
– Hallucinogens – LSD, mushrooms
– Synthetic cannabinoids – K2, Spice

And yes, 50mg also applies to hardcore substances like heroin and meth. But with those drugs, you may face additional distribution charges if the cops think you had any intent to sell or traffic. Not good!

Now for a Fourth Degree controlled substance charge to stick, the prosecution needs solid proof that you knowingly and unlawfully possessed an illicit or controlled substance. Let’s break it down element by element:

## Knowing Possession
To prove this element, the DA must show that you were:

– Actually aware that drugs were in your possession. Can’t be through accident or ignorance.

– In physical custody of the drugs, either on your person or in your belongings/space.

– In control or able to exercise control over the drugs.

Possible defenses:

– You didn’t know the pills/substance were in your backpack or pocket
– Someone else left the drugs there without your knowledge
– The drugs belonged to someone else (friend, partner, spouse)

## Unlawful Possession
To fulfill this element, the prosecution has to show:

– You did not have a valid prescription for the medication

– The substance was listed as controlled and illegal in New York

– You obtained the drugs through an illegal source/means

Possible defenses:

– You had a doctor’s prescription allowing you legal access to the medication

– You made an honest mistake and thought the drugs were legal (CBD vs cannabis, etc)

– You unknowingly took drugs that someone had spiked your drink with

## Type and Weight of Drug
The DA has to prove:

– The seized substance was in fact a controlled, prohibited drug

– The weight of the drug was 50 mg (1/2 gram) or more

Possible defenses:

– Lab testing shows the supposed “drugs” were inert or not actually illicit substances

– The weight of the substance was below the 50mg cutoff for 4th degree charges

– Improper handling of evidence compromised the accuracy of reported type/weight

As you can see, the prosecution needs hard evidence to make all elements stick. Police reports, lab testing records, drug weight certificates, and so on.

## Fighting Fourth Degree Drug Charges

Given the complexities of these cases, an experienced NY drug crimes lawyer can often get charges reduced or dismissed by attacking the DA’s evidence and legal theory.

For instance, we may…

– File discovery requests and retain independent experts to verify testing procedures, handling of evidence, and reported weights. Any sloppy police work gets called out.

– Challenge admissibility of evidence if search and seizure was unconstitutional. Fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine FTW!

– Argue you had a lawful prescription defense or raise reasonable doubt about knowledge of possession.

– Negotiate dismissal of charges through pretrial diversion programs and drug treatment. The goal is keeping your record clean.

– Take the case to trial and beat the charges outright if possible. We live for cross-examining shaky witnesses like narcotics officers and chemists.

The reality is these cases often have legal weaknesses that can be exploited by applying pressure in just the right places. But it takes an attorney well-versed in the nuances of NY drug laws to get you the best outcome.

Let’s talk about where you’re at. I can review police reports, weigh options, and map out an aggressive strategy to attack the charges. With decades of experience beating these raps, I know what it takes to raise doubt, get charges dropped or reduced, and avoid long term damage to your future.

You have a lot at stake, but you also have rights. Don’t let them pressure you into anything less than the strongest possible defense. There’s always hope. We can fight this!


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