New York Drug Crimes Sentencing

In New York one of the most common types of crimes for which people are arrested, prosecuted and sentenced are drug crimes. In fact, for just the lowest level marijuana charge, there are over 50,000 arrests each year. They are several different types of drug crimes including drug possession, drug distribution, drug manufacturing, drug paraphernalia and sex crimes that involve drugs. Furthermore, there are different types of drugs involved such as marijuana, club drugs, prescription drugs, narcotics, depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogens. Under New York law offenses involving drugs are classified as violations, misdemeanors and felonies. This means that sentences can involve no jail or prison time up to life in prison. Sentences may also include probation and fines. Even though there are some drug crimes that are not felonies, the vast majority are felonies with possible sentences of years and years in prison. Because of the potential serious consequences of a drug conviction, if you are arrested and charged with a drug crime related to marijuana, cocaine, heroin, OxyContin, methamphetamine or any other drug, it is critical that you immediately contact an experienced New York drug crimes lawyer who understands the law related to drug crimes including sentencing and who will provide you with the best defense possible given the facts of your case.

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 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

Types of drug crimes

Under New York law drug crimes related to marijuana involve different charges from crimes related to other drugs. There are 11 marijuana offenses all of which are related to the possession or sale of marijuana. One marijuana offense is not a crime, but a violation. There are 29 offenses related to other drugs, called controlled substances offenses. Most controlled substance offenses relate to the possession, sale, and manufacture of controlled substances. Violating any of the 39 drug crimes could result in your arrest and in some cases a conviction. A conviction on most drug charges leads to a sentence of from up to 90 days in jail to life in prison, plus fines of up to $100,000.

Arrest and arraignment

Within approximately 24 hours of being arrested for a drug crime, you will be arraigned. At your arraignment hearing you will learn the exact charges against you. In some cases the charges will be different from what you expected. While you may think that you will just be charged with possession, for example. However, based on the amount of drugs that you have and other evidence, the prosecutor may decide to charge you with possession with the intent to sell, or a criminal sale charge. There are also some cases in which the charge may be lower than what you expect. Or, there may be other non-drug crime charges such as a sex crime charge or a theft charge. At your arraignment will also learn whether or not bail will be required.

If you are charged with a felony the prosecutor will present your case to the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury will decide whether you should be charged with a crime, or released. If you are indicted, meaning charged, you may be able to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor which typically means that you agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge. For example, if you are charged with a class B drug felony, the prosecutor may offer a deal in which you agree to plead guilty to a class C or class D felony. If you are not able to reach a plea agreement with the prosecutor, then your case will go to trial.

Criminal Drug Treatment Court

Another option that may be available to you is for your case to go to Drug Treatment Court. This option is only available if you have a drug or alcohol substance abuse problem, have been charged with a class B, C, D, or E drug felony, and if you are likely to benefit from the Drug Treatment Court program. All marijuana felonies are eligible. Five controlled substances felonies are excluded as they are class A felonies. Another factor that may cause you to be ineligible for the program is having been convicted of a violent crime within the last 10 years.

In order to be offered the option of going to Drug Treatment Court, you must first request a hearing. The judge will listen to evidence from both your defense team and from the prosecution. If the court finds that you are eligible for Drug Treatment Court and you accept the offer, before you can start the program you must plead guilty to the pending criminal charges. Upon successful completion the court will resolve the criminal charges in a manner more favorable to you then it would have had you not completed the Drug Treatment Court program. In some cases the original charges are reduced, in other cases, the charges are dismissed.

If you do not go to Drug Treatment Court or if you fail to complete the program, then your criminal case will continue through the criminal justice system in the usual manner. If convicted this would likely mean that you will have to serve some time in prison.

Sentencing

The sentence for a drug crime conviction varies based on the classification of the drug crime, with the maximum sentence being up to life in prison for class A-I or class A-II felonies. The most important factors used to determine the classification of a drug crime and the penalty are the type of drug, the amount of the drug, the type of offense, and your prior felony convictions. The most serious drug crimes involve manufacturing, selling and distributing. The penalties for drug convictions include:

  • Class B misdemeanor. The maximum possible sentence is 3 months days in jail and a fine of up to $500. The following drug offenses are class B misdemeanors: criminal possession of marijuana in the fifth degree and criminal sale of marijuana in the fifth degree.
  • Class A misdemeanor. The maximum possible sentence is 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The following drug offenses are class A misdemeanors: criminal possession of marijuana in the fourth degree, criminal sale of marijuana in the fourth degree, 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 drug offenses are class E felonies: Criminal possession of marijuana in the third degree, criminal sale of marijuana in the third degree, 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 drug offenses are class D felonies: criminal possession of marijuana in the second degree, criminal sale of marijuana in the second degree, 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 drug offenses are class C felonies: criminal possession of marijuana in the first degree, criminal sale of marijuana in the first degree, 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 drug 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 drug 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. The maximum possible sentence is life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. The following drug 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.
Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Drug cases can involve several complicated issues that could factor into the charge you face, whether or not you are prosecuted, whether or not you are convicted and if convicted, the sentence you face. If you have been arrested and charged with a drug crime in New York or if you face imminent arrest, immediately contact an experienced attorney. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients who have been accused of drug crimes, related to cocaine, heroin, OxyContin, methamphetamine, Vicodin, PCP, LSD as well as other drugs. 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.

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