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NY Penal Law § 220.03: Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree

Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree is one of the least serious drug crimes. It is a misdemeanor. You will have committed this crime under New York Penal Code § 220.03 if you knowingly and unlawfully possess a controlled substance. The prosecutor will charge you with this offense if the amount of drugs you possess is not enough to warrant a felony drug possession charge. For example, if you injected yourself or someone else with heroin leaving only a trace amount of heroin in the hypodermic needle, the prosecutor could charge you with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree.


Several people are in a woman's apartment smoking marijuana and snorting cocaine. One of the woman's friends starts to have a seizure and then passes out. The woman calls 911. Paramedics and the police arrive at the apartment and provide medical assistance to the friend. The police notice traces of cocaine on a table in the apartment. Although the woman possessed cocaine, she could not be prosecuted because the only reason the police discovered the cocaine was because the woman called for emergency medical services to help the friend.

Related Offenses
  1. Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth degree: New York Penal Law § 220.34
  2. Criminally possessing a hypodermic instrument: New York Penal Law § 220.45
  3. Criminal Injection of a Narcotic Drug: New York Penal Law § 220.48

The statute provides 2 important defenses to this crime:

  1. If the controlled substance is a residual amount in a hypodermic needle that you lawfully possess pursuant to the provisions of New York Public Health Law § 3381, you cannot be prosecuted for criminal possession.

  2. If the police discover that you are in unlawful possession of a controlled substance because you sought medical assistance for someone who overdosed or had some other type of medical emergency, you cannot be prosecuted under this statute.


Because criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree is a class A misdemeanor if convicted you could be sentenced to up to 1 year in jail. Your sentence could also include a probation term of 3 years. In determining your sentence the judge will consider the crime committed, the details of the crime, your personal background, and your criminal history. If you are a first time offender your sentence will be less severe than if you have a criminal history.

New York Penal Code § 220.03: Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree

A person is guilty of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree when he or she knowingly and unlawfully possesses a controlled substance; provided, however, that it shall not be a violation of this section when a person possesses a residual amount of a controlled substance and that residual amount is in or on a hypodermic syringe or hypodermic needle obtained and possessed pursuant to section thirty-three hundred eighty-one of the public health law; nor shall it be a violation of this section when a person's unlawful possession of a controlled substance is discovered as a result of seeking immediate health care as defined in paragraph (b) of subdivision three of § 220.78 of the penal law, for either another person or him or herself because such person is experiencing a drug or alcohol overdose or other life threatening medical emergency as defined in paragraph (a) of subdivision three of § 220.78 of the penal law.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Even though seventh degree possession is a misdemeanor, you could still end up in jail if convicted. In addition, may be required to pay a fine. A long term consequence is that you will have a permanent record with a drug offense. However, there are many ways to challenge drug crime charges. For these reasons, if you are arrested for a possessing a controlled substance it is important to immediately contact an attorney who has experience defending those accused of a drug crime. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients who have been accused of drug possession, crack possession, cocaine possession, marijuana possession, drug selling, and other drug crimes. 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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