In order for someone to be charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth degree, they must knowingly and unlawfully sell any of the following: a narcotic preparation, a depressant, concentrated cannabis, phencyclidine, methadone, ketamine, or any other controlled substance that is in violation of § 220.31 of the New York Penal Code. The main factor in determining whether a person is specifically charged with selling a controlled substance in the fourth degree is precisely how much of the substance was sold. If the amount is found to be less than the statute requires, a person can still be charged with criminal selling of a controlled substance in the fifth degree. Different substances under the statute have different specifications for what qualifies as a fourth or fifth degree offense. The only exception is if a sale occurs on the grounds of an educational facility, day care center, or school bus. In these cases, a person will automatically be in violation of this statute regardless of the amount they were selling.
If a police officer observes a person exchanging a controlled substance for cash, then they could potentially face a charge for selling a controlled substance. Depending on what the drug was, and how much of it was being exchanged, the charge could be a fifth degree offense all the way up to a first degree offense for particularly large quantities.
Similarly, if a person is caught selling even a small amount of a controlled substance around a school, then they will automatically be charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth degree.
Defending Against Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Fourth Degree
There are two main forms of defense against being charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth degree. The first defense is to try and have the charge reduced to the fifth degree by proving that the drugs found were less than the required amount for this specific statute. Although this will not remove the charge completely, it can be beneficial to reduce the charges, which in turn will make the potential penalties less severe.
The other main defense is to question the various methods used by the police to locate the drugs. NYC criminal lawyers will question the probable cause that the police used to justify their search of your person, vehicle, or property to find the controlled substance. If the search can be proven to be unlawful, then anything that was found as a result of that search will be considered inadmissible in court. Since this charge hinges on a person having been found with a controlled substance, then it will likely be dropped if the search is no longer found to be admissible.
Sentencing for Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Fourth Degree
Since criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth degree is considered to be a class C felony, anyone convicted of it can face up to 15 years in prison. Depending on whether or not the person had any prior convictions, a judge will issue a minimum sentence between three and half to seven years of prison time. In addition to serving several years in jail, anyone found guilty of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth degree will also be forced to pay a fine of up to $15,000.
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