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NY Penal Law § 220.31: Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree

Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree is the least serious crimes related to selling drugs. However, it is still a felony. You will have committed this crime under New York Penal Code § 220.31 if you knowingly and unlawfully sell a controlled substance. Unlike other drug selling offenses there is not a minimum amount of drugs that you must sell or attempt to sell in order to face prosecution under this statute. The prosecutor will charge you with this offense if the amount of drugs you possess is not enough to warrant a more serious drug selling charge.


Two police officers witness a man exchange a small vial for cash. The officers arrest the man as well as the other person. They recover a tiny vial filled with a small amount of cocaine. Because the amount of cocaine in the vial is so small, he is charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree.

Related Offenses
  1. Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree: New York Penal Code § 220.06
  2. Criminal sale of a controlled substance in or near school grounds: New York Penal Code § 220.44

If you are charged with fifth degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, you may be able to successfully challenge the method the police used to find the drugs. In order to conduct a search, whether it is a search of your car, apartment or office, the police must have probable cause. If the search was unlawful anything which the search produced including drugs would be inadmissible in court and your case would likely be dismissed.


Because criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree is a class D felony, if you are convicted your possible sentence will be up to 17 years in prison. Your actual sentence will depend on a number of factors including whether or not you have a prior felony conviction. Your sentence may also include a 5 year probation term as well as a fine.

New York Penal Code § 220.31: Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree.

A person is guilty of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree when he knowingly and unlawfully sells a controlled substance.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you have been arrested and charged with a drug crime in New York 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 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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