A Legal Guide to Drug Possession Charges

Drug crimes are taken very seriously in New York. The state is known for its unforgiving conviction consequences. If you’ve been accused of a drug crime, it’s not only important to get legal aid but also to understand what you face with a possible conviction.

New York Drug Possession Laws

In New York, marijuana and controlled substance possession offenses are divided into two distinct groups. We will review laws surrounding both possession offenses.

Marijuana Possession Charges

According to New York Penal Law § 222.25, you are guilty of unlawful possession of cannabis when you willfully and unlawfully possess more than 3 ounces of cannabis or more than 24 ounces of concentrated cannabis. Unlawful marijuana possession is punishable by a fine of up to $125 for a first-time offense.

If you are charged with criminal possession of cannabis, the consequences vary and increase. New York Penal Law § 222.30, § 222.35, and § 222.40 outline the criminal cannabis possession offenses and definitions, which are:

  • Criminal marijuana possession in the third degree, having more than 16 ounces of cannabis or more than 5 ounces of concentrated cannabis, is considered a class A misdemeanor
  • Criminal marijuana possession in the second degree, having more than 5 pounds of cannabis or more than 2 pounds of concentrated cannabis, is considered a class E felony
  • Criminal marijuana possession in the first degree, having more than 10 pounds of cannabis or more than 4 pounds of concentrated cannabis, is considered a class D felony

Possession of Controlled Substance Charges

You can be charged with drug possession for allegedly having several drugs defined as controlled substances. There are five schedules of controlled substances (New York PBH § 3306).There are 6 different possession charges you may face (see New York Penal Law § 220.03-220.21).

First of which is the criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. This offense is considered a class A misdemeanor. A person is guilty of this charge if they possess a controlled substance.

A person can be found guilty of the criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, which is a class D felony, if they illegally possess any of the following substances:

  • A controlled substance and intent to sell it
  • 0.5 an ounce or more of narcotic preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances
  • 50 milligrams or more of phencyclidine (PCP)
  • 500 milligrams or more of cocaine
  • 1,000 milligrams or more of ketamine
  • Any ketamine, if they have a previous possession conviction
  • Preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) that weigh 28 grams or more

The criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree is a class C felony, and someone is guilty of this crime if they unlawfully possess any of the following substances:

  • 0.125 an ounce or more of narcotic drug preparations
  • 0.5 an ounce or more of preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances containing methamphetamine (or its salts or isomers)
  • 1 gram or more of stimulants
  • 1 milligram or more of lysergic acid diethylamide (acid)
  • 25 milligrams or more of a hallucinogen
  • 1 gram or more of a hallucinogenic substance
  • 2 pounds or more of a depressant
  • 250 milligrams or more of PCP
  • 360 milligrams or more of methadone
  • 50 grams or more of PCP with the intent to sell, if they have been previously convicted of a possession offense
  • 4,000 milligrams or more of ketamine
  • Preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances containing GHB weighing 200 grams or more

Considered a class B felony, the criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree involves the illicit possession of any of the following substances:

  • A narcotic drug with the intent to sell it
  • A stimulant, hallucinogen, hallucinogenic substance, or acid with the intent to sell it, if convicted of drug possession previously
  • 1 gram or more of a stimulant with the intent to sell it
  • 1 milligram or more of lysergic acid diethylamide with the intent to sell it
  • 25 milligrams or more of a hallucinogen with the intent to sell it
  • 1 gram or more of a hallucinogenic substance with the intent to sell it
  • 0.125 an ounce or more of any preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances containing methamphetamine (including its salts or isomers) with the intent to sell it
  • 5 grams or more of a stimulant, acid, or a hallucinogenic substance
  • 25 milligrams or more of a hallucinogen
  • 0.5 an ounce or more of any preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances containing a narcotic drug
  • 1,250 milligrams or more of PCP

A person is guilty of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the second degree, which is a class A-II felony, if they illegally possess any of the following substances:

  • 4 ounces or more any preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances containing a narcotic drug
  • 2 ounces or more of any preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances containing methamphetamine, its salts or isomers
  • 10 grams or more of a stimulant
  • 25 milligrams or more of lysergic acid diethylamide or a hallucinogenic substance
  • 625 milligrams or more of a hallucinogen
  • 2,880 milligrams or more of methadone

If found to be in possession of any of the following substances, a person is guilty of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, which is a class A-I felony:

  • 8 ounces or more of any preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances containing a narcotic drug
  • 5,760 milligrams or more or methadone

How Serious Is a Drug Possession Charge?

As mentioned, drug possession charges have grave consequences (refer to New York Penal Code § 70 and § 80). In New York, if convicted, you can face penalties which include fines, jail time, or both:

  • Class A misdemeanor. Sentencing for this conviction carries a fine of up to $1,000 and/or jail time of no more than a year.
  • Class E felony. This felony’s sentence guidelines allow for no more than 4 years of jail time and a fine of $5,000.
  • Class D felony. This offense carries a fine of $5,000 and up to 7 years of imprisonment.
  • Class C felony. A conviction sentence involves no more than 15 years of jail time and a fine totaling $15,000.
  • Class B felony. This offense is punishable by a fine of $30,000 and up to 25 years of imprisonment.
  • Class A felony. This felony is punishable by life imprisonment and a fine of $50,000 (for class A-II felonies) or $100,000 (for class A-I felonies).

These penalties are subject to change if the conviction is a second or subsequent offense. If you or a loved one are accused of a drug possession crime, you should immediately get legal guidance. There are a lot of legal complexities and laws surrounding possession charges.

A conviction of any kind is permanently on your record, and felony convictions can affect your civil rights. A dependable drug crime attorney will know how to best help you protect your reputation and rights.

Have you been accused and charged with a drug crime? At Letterio & Haug, we provide individualized and efficient legal aid to all our clients. We understand how serious a conviction can be, which is why we will fight hard for your best interests.

You can trust our criminal defense attorneys. Reach out to us via our online form or phone ((845) 203-0997).

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