NY Criminal Defense Lawyer

Drug Possession


Drug possession laws in New York are notoriously severe. Laws enacted under former Governor Nelson Rockefeller were designed to send a staunch warning to would-be drug offenders—that violations of state drug laws would be dealt with harshly and with very few exceptions. Recently, in 2009, the mandatory minimum sentences initially enacted under Rockefeller were done away with. However, New York penalties for drug offenses still remain some of the most severe in the nation.

If you are accused of possession of a controlled substance, you don’t only have to worry about the legal penalties, but also the personal fall-out. Charges like these can impact your employment and even your personal relationships. A conviction is a certain hindrance to future employment and possibly housing.

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When confronted with criminal charges, it’s important to understand that charges don’t necessarily mean all hope is lost. On the contrary, being criminally charged is just the beginning. A conviction is what should be avoided and an aggressive criminal defense attorney can help you do just that.

New York Drug Possession Laws Defined

Many people think that they have to be holding the drugs or have them in their pocket to be charged and convicted of possession. This is simply not the case. Legally, you must have what’s referred to as constructive possession in order for a possession charge to stick.

Constructive Possession refers to having control over something even if it isn’t in your hand, or your pocket. Instead, the law requires you have knowledge of the presence of the drugs and that you be able to control them. This includes situations where the drugs are under your seat, in your glove box, or on the ground next to you, for example.

NY Drug Possession Penalties

Under New York law, the penalty you face for a drug possession charge is dependent on the drug in question, the amount you are accused of possessing, and your criminal record. Because of this, it’s difficult to say for certain what your penalty could be without an in depth attorney consultation.

However, the chart below can offer you a decent overview of the potential charge and penalty you will face when accused of drug possession as a first time offender.

Charge Amount Classification Potential Penalty
5th Degree Possession 500 mg.- 0.125 oz. cocaine D Non-Violent Felony 2.5 years in prison
4th Degree Possession – 0.125 – .49 oz. cocaine or heroin- 0.5 – 1.9 oz. methamphetamine

– 360 – 2,879 mg. methadone

– 1 – 4.9 mg. LSD

C Non-Violent Felony 5.5 years in prison
3rd Degree Possession -0.5 – 3.9 oz. cocaine or heroin- 5 – 24.9 mg. LSD B Non-Violent Felony 9 years in prison
2nd Degree Possession – 4 – 7.9 oz. cocaine or heroin- 2 oz. or more methamphetamine

– 25 mg. or more LSD

– 2,880 – 5,757 mg. methadone

A2 Felony 10 years in prison
1st Degree Possession -8 oz. or more cocaine, heroin, or any other narcotic drug- 5,760 mg. or more methadone A1 Felony 20 years in prison

For New York Marijuana Possession laws, see our marijuana possession page.

Ref: NY State Law §220.03- 220.21

Obviously, if you have a more extensive criminal history, you wil face greater potential penalties for a possession charge.

From questioning the police officer’s report and version of events to challenging the validity of the search that led to your arrest, your criminal defense attorney can work hard to ensure you get the best results on your day in court.

To know for certain what you are up against and what your options are, contact our offices today for a consultation on your case.