New York Drug Charge Offense

The New York Penal Code includes over 40 criminal charges related to the unlawful use of drugs. Most of the charges relate to the possession, manufacture and sale of controlled substances. Several other offenses are related to the possession and distribution of marijuana. For purposes of drug charges, marijuana is treated differently from other drugs that are classified as controlled substances. A controlled substance is any substance listed in the New York Public Health law as a controlled substance. N.Y. Pub. Law § 3306. Because drugs have a severe detrimental impact on communities and often lead to other types of crimes, law enforcement devotes both a significant amount of money and manpower into identifying, arresting and prosecuting those who commit crimes related to controlled substances and marijuana. If you are convicted of a drug crimes, not only is there a possibility that you will end up in prison away from your family, you will also end up with a criminal record that includes a drug crime conviction. If you have been arrested for a drug crime such as drug selling, cocaine possession, marijuana possession, or drug manufacturing, you should immediately contact an experienced New York drug crimes lawyer who will review the facts of your case and work closely with you to aggressively defend you against these charges. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have decades of experience representing clients who have been charged with drug crimes and other serious crimes such as assault, domestic violence and sex crimes. Find out what we can do for you by contacting us at to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

Types of drug charges

In New York controlled substance offenses are grouped into 4 main categories: possession, sale, paraphernalia and manufacturing. Marijuana offenses are grouped into 2 main categories: possession and sale.

Possession of a controlled substance offenses

There are 6 drug charges related to the possessing controlled substances. Possessing means that you have the controlled substance knowingly and unlawfully. If you only have a residual amount that was left over in a hypodermic needle, you cannot be charged with possession. The 6 possession of a controlled substance offenses prohibit possessing a variety of drugs including cocaine, GHB, PCP and methadone. The different degrees of possession of a controlled substance charges are based the type of drug and the amount of drug. For example, if you possess 1000 grams of ketamine, you will be charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, a class D felony. The maximum possible sentence is up to 7 years. However, if you possess 4000 grams of ketamine, the offense goes from criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree, a class C felony with a maximum possible sentence of 15 years in prison.

The criminal possession of a controlled substance crimes include:

  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree , a class A misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.03
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree , a class D felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.06
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree , a class C felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.09
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree , a class B felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.16
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the second degree , a class A-II felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.18
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree , a class A-I felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.21

While there are 6 possession of marijuana charges, they do not come with penalties that are as harsh as those for controlled substance possession charges. In fact, 1 of the possession of marijuana charges is not even a crime, but a violation. Two charges are misdemeanors. Only 3 charges are felonies. In order to face a felony marijuana possession charge you must possess at least 8 ounces of marijuana.

The criminal possession of marijuana crimes include:

  • Unlawful possession of marijuana. This is a violation. N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.05
  • Criminal possession of marijuana in the fifth degree. This is a class B misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.10
  • Criminal possession of marijuana in the fourth degree. This is a class A misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.15
  • Criminal possession of marijuana in the third degree. This is a class E felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.20
  • Criminal possession of marijuana in the second degree. This is a class D felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.25
  • Criminal possession of marijuana in the first degree. This is a class C felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.30
Sale of a controlled substance offenses

Law enforcement considers selling controlled substances or marijuana to be a much more serious crime than possessing a controlled substance or marijuana. For this reason, the penalties for selling drugs are stiffer than possession penalties. Like possession of controlled substance offenses, in the case of certain substances the more you sell the more serious charge you will face. The most severe charges could result in a sentence of life in prison.

The criminal sale of a controlled substance crimes include:

  • Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree. This is a class D felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.31
  • Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth degree. This is a class C felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.34.
  • Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree. This is a class B felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.39
  • Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree. This is a class A-II felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.41
  • Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree. This is a class A-I felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.43
  • Criminal sale of a controlled substance in or near school grounds. This is a class B felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.44. This charge applies to drug selling in or near a school, day care, school bus, or other educational facility.
  • Criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance. This is a class C felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.65
  • Operating as a major trafficker. This is a class A-1 felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.77. Along with criminal sale of a controlled substance, this charge is the most severe sale of a controlled substance charge. If convicted, you could go to prison for the rest of your life.

While selling marijuana is also considered a serious crime, the penalties are less severe than the penalties for a sale of a controlled substance charge. No conviction on a selling marijuana charge will result in a life prison sentence.

The criminal possession of marijuana crimes include:

  • Criminal sale of marijuana in the fifth degree. This is a class B misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.35
  • Criminal sale of marijuana in the fourth degree. This is a class A misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.40
  • Criminal sale of marijuana in the third degree. This is a class E felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.45
  • Criminal sale of marijuana in the second degree. This is a class D felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.50
  • Criminal sale of marijuana in the first degree. This is a class C felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.55
Drug paraphernalia offenses

Another type of drug offense involves possessing, not drugs, but drug paraphernalia. These are 3 offenses generally relate to controlled substances and what is needed to prepare controlled substances in order to sell them. Drug paraphernalia offenses include:

  • Criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second degree. This is a class A misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.50
  • Criminally using drug paraphernalia in the first degree. This is a class D felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.55
  • Criminal possession of precursors of controlled substances. This is a class E felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.60
Manufacturing methamphetamine offenses

Like selling drugs, manufacturing controlled substances is a very serious drug crime under New York law. New York's drug manufacturing laws all relate to making methamphetamine . There are 7 manufacturing offenses and all but one are felonies. If you are convicted of the most serious manufacturing charge, unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine in the first degree you could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison. Drug manufacturing offenses include:

  • Criminal possession of methamphetamine manufacturing material in the second degree. This is a class A misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.70
  • Criminal possession of methamphetamine manufacturing material in the first degree. This is a class E felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.71
  • Criminal possession of precursors of methamphetamine. This is a class E felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.72
  • Unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine in the third degree. This is a class D felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.73
  • Unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine in the second degree. This is a class C felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.74
  • Unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine in the first degree. This is a class B felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.75
  • Unlawful disposal of methamphetamine laboratory material. This is a class E felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.76
Other drug offenses

The controlled substances statute also makes it a crime to use a child to commit a controlled substance or use hypodermic needles or syringes to take drugs.

  • Use of a child to commit a controlled substance offense. This is a class E felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.28
  • Criminally possessing a hypodermic instrument. This is a class A misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.45
  • Criminal injection of a narcotic drug. This is a class E felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.46
Sentencing

The sentence for a drug charge conviction can vary widely depending on a number of factors. The most important factor is the classification of the drug charge. Misdemeanors will result in minimal jail time. Class A felonies will result in many years or even life in prison. The penalties for drug convictions include:

  • Violation. Unlawful possession of marijuana is a violation and is not considered a crime. The maximum penalty is a fine of up to $100. However, if it is your second conviction for this offense within the prior 3 years, then the fine will be up to $200. If it is your third offense, then you may face a fine of up to $250 or up to 15 days in jail.
  • Class B misdemeanor. The maximum possible sentence is 3 months in jail and a fine of up to $500. Criminal possession of marijuana in the fifth degree is the only drug offense that is a class B misdemeanor.
  • Class A misdemeanor. The maximum possible sentence is 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The following controlled substance offenses are class A misdemeanors: criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second degree, criminal possession of methamphetamine manufacturing material in the second degree, and criminally possessing a hypodermic instrument.
  • Class E felony. The maximum possible sentence is 4 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. The following controlled substance offenses are class E felonies: criminal possession of precursors of controlled substances, criminal possession of methamphetamine manufacturing material in the first degree, criminal possession of precursors of methamphetamine, unlawful disposal of methamphetamine laboratory material, use of a child to commit a controlled substance offense, and criminal injection of a narcotic drug.
  • Class D felony. The maximum possible sentence is 7 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. The following controlled substance offenses are class D felonies: criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, criminally using drug paraphernalia in the first degree, and unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine in the third degree.
  • Class C felony . The maximum possible sentence is 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. The following controlled substance offenses are class C felonies: criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth degree, unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine in the second degree, and criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance.
  • Class B felony. The maximum possible sentence is 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $30,000. The following controlled substance offenses are class B felonies: criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance in or near school grounds, and unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine in the first degree.
  • Class A-II felony. The maximum possible sentence is life in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. The following controlled substance offenses are class A-II felonies: criminal possession of a controlled substance in the second degree and criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree.
  • Class A-I felony. It does not get worse than this. The maximum possible sentence for a class A-I is life in prison, plus a fine of up to $100,000. The following controlled substance offenses are class A-I felonies: criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree, and operating as a major trafficker.

If you are charged with a drug offense, you may have the option of taking advantage of an alternative sentencing program called Drug Treatment Court. To be eligible for this program you must have a substance abuse problem and the drug crime has to be a class B, C, D, or E felony. Furthermore, the court must be satisfied that you will be able to benefit from the Drug Treatment Court program. If you are offered this option and you accept it, you must plead guilty to the criminal charges against you. If you then successfully complete the program, including abiding by all of its terms then the judge presiding over your criminal case will resolve the criminal charges against you in a more favorable manner then if you did not go to Drug Treatment Court. The charges may be reduced or even dismissed.

The Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates can help

An arrest for a drug charge offense is very serious. However, there are often legal options that provide defenses to drug charges or may allow alternative sentencing. Therefore, if you have been charged with a controlled substance offense or a marijuana offense you should immediately contact a lawyer who has experience defending those accused of drug charge offenses. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been accused of crimes such as drug possession, drug distribution and drug manufacturing offenses. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of drug crimes in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens , Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

CONTACT US FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529)