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New York Penal Code 220.43: Criminal Sale Of A Controlled Substance In The First Degree

By Spodek Law Group | May 1, 2017

It is always disconcerting to be accused of a crime, no matter how large or small it is. If you are facing drug charges in New York City, you may find the punishment harsh. The following is an overview of New York penal code 220.43, which is the criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree. If you have been charged with this crime or fear you will soon be facing these charges, it is essential to speak with a NYC criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and possible defenses.


Under New York law, the definition of penal code 220.43 is the distribution and sale of more than 2 ounces of narcotics or more than 2,880 milligrams of methadone. This crime is a class A felony in New York and is designed to punish those who are selling large amounts of narcotics.


The current penalties in New York for a Class A felony may include:

Class A I

The court may impose a sentence of up to life in prison. The minimum sentence for this crime is between 15 and 40 years.

Class A II

The sentence for those convicted of this crime may be a life setence in prison. The minimum sentencing guidelines for this non-violent crime is between 3 and 8 years in prison.
When the person charged does not have an expansive criminal background and the crime was not violent, the court typically opts for an intermediate sentence. Once the mandatory minimum amount of time served is met, the person convicted would be eligible for parole. In the event parole is denied, the person is required to only serve the mandatory maximum sentence and is released once tjose conditions are met.


The court may order the defendant to pay a fine after conviction. Class A I felony convictions may require a fine of up to $100,000.00. Class A II felonies bring fines of up to $50,000.00.

Defending This Charge

When you are facing this type of charge, it is important to hire a defense team with extensive trial experience. If convicted, you may face imprisonment and have a criminal record that may prevent you from getting a good job or a rental home. Some ways a lawyer may defend you include:

Investigate The Charges
Determine If A Legal Search Was Conducted
Challenge The Amount Of Drugs In Question

The criminal sale of a controlled substance is one of the most serious charges you can face, as it is a Class A felony. For this reason, you must choose a lawyer who can protect your rights.

If you are facing drug charges in New York City, you are likley nervous and concerned about what lies ahead. However, there is help available. Contact a criminal defense lawyer today and schedule a consultation. Once a lawyer has reviewed your case, he will let you know the best way to defend you against these serious criminal charges. Having the best criminal defense lawyers in New York City can greatly reduce the stress and anxiety you are feelong while awaiting trial. In many cases, good defense attorney’s are anle to negotiate a lighter sentence or recommend alternative sentencing to satisfy the court.

New York Penal Code 220.41: Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree

The criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree under Penal Code 220.41 in New York is knowingly and unlawfully selling narcotic substances under these conditions:

• Selling any narcotic weighing at least .5 ounces
• Selling any methamphetamine weighing at least .5 ounces
• Selling any stimulant weighing at least .5 ounces
• Selling any Lysergic acid diethylamide weighing at least .5 milligrams
• Selling any hallucinogenic weighing at least .5 grams
• Selling methadone weighing at least 360 milligrams

Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance Guidelines
In the state of New York, the criminal sale of a controlled substance falls under seven grades, set apart by the class and degree of the offense. The criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree is a class “A-II” felony in New York, which is one of the most serious drug charges a person can face. To warrant this charge, you must have in your possession a specific amount of narcotics with the intent to sell the drugs. If you intend to sell any narcotic weighing at least .5 ounces, you will face the charge of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree, a class A-II felony.

Sentencing for Selling Drugs in New York
The state of New York imposes some of the harshest sentences in the country for the criminal sale of controlled substances. If you are convicted of a class A-II felony for the criminal sale of a controlled substance, you could face anywhere from 3-8 years based on the circumstances behind your conviction and a $50,000 fine. In some instances, defendants convicted of a class A-II felony for criminal sale of a controlled substance received 10 years in prison.

Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance Defense
If you were charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree, you must have in your possession at the time of your arrest at least .5 ounces of a narcotic substance. For example, if you had heroin in your possession at the time of your arrest, and it only weighed .4 ounces, then a charge of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree is not founded. Police must also have probable cause before they can search your person. If the police search you without reason and find narcotics in your possession, that evidence is not admissible in court.

Knowingly and Unlawfully Sells Narcotic Drugs
With all the legalese surrounding drug laws in New York, it can be difficult for the state to pinpoint the definition of knowingly and unlawfully selling narcotic drugs. For the prosecution to prove you knowingly sold narcotics, they almost need to catch you in the act. However, if you have a prior conviction for selling or possessing drugs, the onus may fall on you to prove you were not selling narcotics. Keep in mind that if you are caught with drugs on your person, and you used a child to conceal the offense, you most likely will face the stiffest charge of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree. Since a child was involved in the commission of a drug crime, the state may hit you with the same charge, only this time in the first degree. A class A-I felony in New York carries a minimum of 15-40 years with the possibility of a life sentence.

Contact a qualified NYC criminal attorney today if you are facing any of these offenses.

New York Penal Code 220.39: Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree

Controlled substances are a serious problem not only in New York, but across the country and across the world. Law enforcement in the New York area take crimes related to drug selling and drug use very seriously. In addition, the court system takes a hard line especially if the offense is the second or third drug offense. Drug addiction can lead to other crimes such as larceny or prostitution. In addition, drivers under the influence of controlled substances are a serious hazard on public roads. The New York penal code 220 addresses the criminal sale of a controlled substance.

Penal Code 220.39 Broken Down
New York Penal Code 220.39 addresses the criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree. Most laws prohibiting the sale of drugs specify a minimum amount of specific drugs before you can be prosecuted. Penal Code 220.39 states that you violate the law if you knowingly and unlawfully sell the following:
– any narcotic
– a stimulant weighing 1 gram or more
– lysergic acid diethylamide weighing 1 milligram or more
– a hallucinogen weighing 25 milligrams or more
– a hallucinogenic weighing 1 gram or more
– methadone weighing 1/8 of an ounce or more
– if you sell narcotics to someone under the age of 21
– if you sell narcotics and you have previously been convicted of a drug offense

If addition, New York has a very broad definition of the word “sell”. Selling can include an exchange for money or other goods or services. Selling also includes giving drugs to someone else or even offering or agreeing to sell drugs.

Examples of a Criminal Sale of Drugs
If someone offers to sell a controlled substance, gives a controlled substance away, or actually exchanges the drugs for money or something else, this is a violation of Penal Code 220.39 depending on the amount of drugs involved. There could be additional charges such as possession of a controlled substance or a drug paraphernalia charge.

Possible Defenses to a Charge of Criminal Sale
The best defense to Penal Code 220.39 is if the amount involved does not meet the minimum requirements for a third degree criminal sale. Another defense could result depending on how the police found the drugs. Police are required by law to have probable cause before they can search someone. A good criminal defense attorney will look at the details of each case and determine the best defense strategy to give their clients the best possible result.

A charge of criminal sale of a controlled substance is much more serious than a charge of possession, although if you are charged with distribution you will probably also be charged with possession. Criminal sale in the third degree is classified as a Class “B” felony. If convicted, the minimum prison sentence is 5 years if you have no prior convictions, and a minimum of 10 years if there are prior convictions. The maximum sentence is 25 years in prison. In addition, there could be a fine of up to $30,000.

A charge of criminal sale of a controlled substance is very serious. There is a very real possibility that someone convicted of several drug related charges could be sent to prison for the rest of their life. The first thing anyone should do is immediately call a New York criminal attorney who is experienced in handling these types of cases. A good defense attorney can explain your legal options and will aggressively fight to get the charges reduced as much as possible.

New York Penal Code 220.34: Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth degree

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.

Examples of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Fourth Degree

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.

New York Penal Code 220.31: Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Fifth Degree

Selling a controlled substance in the state of New York is a felony regardless of the amount or type of substance sold. Although a fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance charge is the least serious charge someone can face for selling drugs, a conviction may still lead to a lengthy jail term.

What the Law Says About This Charge

To be charged with fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, you must know that what you are selling is a controlled substance. You must also sell it willingly to fall under the purview of this statute. Therefore, the law itself may provide for many defense options in court that may lead to reduced charges or the charge being thrown out entirely.

While an individual may face a prison sentence of up to 17 years for a conviction, a lesser sentence may be given to those without a criminal record. However, it is likely that a conviction will lead to at least five years of probation either instead of a jail sentence or in addition to time served.

Examples of This Charge

Let’s say that an individual decides to sell a gram of marijuana to his friend after school at a local mall. In New York state, it is illegal to possess, use or sell the substance in public. While the possession or use may be decriminalized, the sale of the product may still lead to criminal charges.

Another example would be if an individual sold meth to an undercover police officer of his or her own free will. Before the sale, the officers may ask questions about the product to make sure that the seller knows that he or she is selling an illegal substance. If the sale goes through, that individual may be charged with a crime.

In many cases, prosecutors will charge a person with fifth-degree sale of a controlled substance because he or she didn’t sell enough to qualify for a more serious charge. Prosecutors may also use this charge against those who didn’t sell the drug near a school or a public park.

Possible Defenses to the Charge

It may be possible to argue that an individual did not know that he or she was in possession of an illegal substance. For example, a grandmother with no idea what marijuana looks like may have thought that she was in possession of oregano or another herb.

If that person knew what marijuana was, she may still not be charged with a crime if she sold it under duress. In the event that the sale occurred under threat of bodily harm or threat of bodily harm to a loved one, this person wouldn’t be selling it willingly.

Another defense may center around the fact that the drugs were discovered illegally. This may occur if police engaged in an unlawful search because there was no probable cause or no warrant to conduct a search. Unless the drugs were in plain view of the officer, permission from the individual being searched or a court order would be needed to find them.

Those who are facing drug charges may wish to talk with a NYC criminal lawyer. He or she may be able to help an individual develop a defense against the charge in an effort to obtain the best possible outcome. If successful, a defendant may face reduced penalties such as probation or community service instead of a jail or prison sentence.

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