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New York Drug Crimes

In New York, a drug crime includes using, possessing, purchasing or selling of an illegal narcotic or substance such as cocaine, marijuana LSD, ecstasy, meth amphetamine, heroine, mushroom, illegal prescription drugs etc as defined in New York”s Penal Law.

Drug crime arrests are among the most prevalent type of arrest in New York State. In 2011 alone there were over 50,000 arrests for the lowest level marijuana charge. According to 2008 statistics issued by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, over 40,000 people were arrested for felony level drug crimes in New York State. Of that amount, over 20,000 were arrested for class B drug felonies. New York law enforcement devotes millions of dollars to fight drug crimes. In other words New York State like all other states as well as the federal government takes drug crimes very seriously. There are several different types of drug crimes including offenses related to possessing, selling, and manufacturing drugs. In addition, there are crimes based on having drug paraphernalia and involving children in drug crimes. Some drug offenses are misdemeanors, while most are felonies. The penalties for a drug crime conviction can be steep. In some cases you could end up in jail for decades or for the rest of your life. Because of the potential serious consequences of a drug conviction, if you are arrested and charged with a drug crime it is critical that you immediately contact an experienced New York drug crimes lawyer who will support you and aggressively defend you from the time of your arrest until your case is resolved. 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 crimes

Under the New York Penal Code drug crimes generally fall under two headings: controlled substances offenses and marijuana offenses. There are 29 controlled substances offenses, most of which are offenses related to the possession, sale, and manufacture of controlled substances. 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. 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

If you are arrested for a drug crime you will likely be taken to the local police precinct. Within 24 hours of your arrest 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. Based on a review of the evidence, the prosecutor may decide to raise or lower the charges, or to add additional charges. You will also learn whether or not bail will be required.

If you are charged with a felony, then New York law requires that the prosecutor present your case to the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury will decide whether you should be indicted, meaning charged with a crime, or released. If you are indicted you may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor. There are rules regarding plea bargains and indicted felony cases. For example, if you are charged with a class B drug felony, the best "deal" that the prosecutor can offer is for you to plead guilty to a 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 substance abuse problem and committed a class B, C, D, or E drug felony. All marijuana felonies are eligible. Five controlled substances felonies are excluded as they are class A felonies. The excluded charges include criminal possession of a controlled substance in the second degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree, and operating as a major drug trafficker. 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. In making its decision, the court will consider:

  • Your criminal history, including whether you have been convicted of a violent felony
  • Whether you have a substance abuse problem
  • Whether substance abuse played a part in your criminal behavior
  • Whether participating in the Drug Treatment Court program would help you address your substance abuse problem
  • The need to protect the public from you through confinement

If the court finds that you are eligible for Drug Treatment Court and offers it to you, you have the option of accepting or declining. If you do accept the offer, before you can start the program you must first plead guilty to the pending criminal charges. You will then enter the program. 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 sentence is relatively light. There are even some cases in which the charges are dismissed.

If the court decides that you are not eligible for the program, you decline to enter the program or 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.

The Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates can help

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. Drug cases are complicated. Depending on the facts of your case, there may be several defenses available to fight the charges. If you are dealing with a substance abuse problem you may be able to take advantage of the Drug Treatment Court program. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients who have been accused of drug crimes, including drug possession, distribution, DWI, cocaine possession, and marijuana possession. Contact us at 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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