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New York Possession of a Controlled Substance Defense Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Controlled Substance in New York?

A controlled substance is a dangerous drug that is listed in one of 5 schedules in New York’s public health law. Examples of controlled substances including heroin, cocaine, OxyContin, percocet, morphine, opium, codeine, amphetamine, Vicodin, codeine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids, Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Halcion. For purposes of the criminal possession of a controlled possession rules does not include marijuana. There are separate laws for offenses related to unlawfully possessing marijuana.

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What Is Possession of a Controlled Substance in New York?

Possession of a controlled substance is a serious crime involving the unlawful possession of drugs that are classified as controlled substances. Possession occurs if a person has the ability and intention to control it. However, while physically possessing the drug is a type of possession, it is not necessary to prove criminal possession. Possession may also occur in cases where the drug is not actually physically on the person, but is found near the person, or on the person’s property. This is referred to as constructive possession. In order to prove constructive possession, the prosecutor must show that the defendant had knowledge of the substance’s presence and that he or she also had the ability to control it.

Another type of possession is shared possession. A defendant can be convicted of criminal possession if the prosecutor can establish that the defendant had at least partial control of the substance, along with another person with whom he or she shared the substance.

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In New York is Possession of a Controlled Substance a Misdemeanor or a Felony?

In New York a charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance can either be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the amount of drug and the intent. The larger the amount of the drug the defendant is charged with possessing, the more likely the charge will be a felony. If there is evidence that the defendant possessed the substance with the intent to distribute it, then the charge will be raised to the felony level.

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What Are the Penalties for Having Possession of a Controlled Substance?

If a defendant is convicted of criminal possession, the sentence the court will impose will depend largely on the particular charge. Charges for criminal possession range from a class A misdemeanor to a class A-I felony. For a misdemeanor conviction the defendant could get sentenced to up to a year in jail, while a conviction for a class A-1 felony such as possession of a controlled substance in the first degree could result in being in a prison for over 20 years. The penalty could also include a fine of as much as $100,000.

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What If I Did Not Know About the Drugs?

An element of criminal possession is “knowingly” possessing a controlled substance. Thus, if for example, the defendant was charged with possession based on holding a friend’s handbag that contained drugs, a defense to the charge could be that he or she had no knowledge of what was in the handbag.

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Still Have Questions? Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates for Help

Drug possession is a serious crime. The consequences of a drug conviction may include incarceration for years, probation, fines, loss of employment, and a criminal record. It is imperative to have an experienced drug possession attorney on your side to fight drug possession accusations. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with misdemeanors and felonies. Contact us at 800.NY.NY.LAW (800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of crimes in the following locations: Bronx, Nassau County, Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Staten Island, Suffolk County, and Westchester County.

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