An NYC Drug Crime Lawyer Explains the Law

New York City is a large, international city with lots of drug traffic. Consequently, the NYPD and DEA spend lots of resources trying to combat drug activity here. As such, drug arrests are common–from petty drug possession all the way to serious drug trafficking. If you have been charged with a drug crime, NYC Drug Crime Lawyer Cody Warner can assess your case and determine the best path forward. 

Categories of Drug Charges 

Drug charges in New York fall into three general categories:

  1. Possession charges. Under New York law, it is a criminal offense to knowingly possess a controlled substance. Possession can include both actual possession (the drugs were found on your person), as well as constructive possession (the drugs were within your immediate control). A “simple possession” charge is the least serious drug charge you can face. It is also against the law to possess certain items related to the manufacture, sale, or use of drugs, collectively referred to as “drug paraphernalia.” 
  2. Sale of a controlled substance. It is against the law in New York to sell or intend to sell a controlled substance. Charges involving the sale or distribution of drugs are more serious than possession charges and carry very serious consequences if you are convicted. 
  3. Drug trafficking. Drug trafficking charges are the most serious drug charges you can face. They are generally distinguished from charges regarding the sale of drugs by the volume of drugs involved and other factors such as whether you were involved in the manufacture of drugs. 

Within each of these general categories, the various charges can range in severity. An NYC drug crime lawyer can explain your charges to you, discuss the facts of your case, and develop a strategic defense for your case. 

What Determines the Outcome of a Drug Case? 

The outcome of your drug case will depend on many factors, such as: 

  • The type of drugs involved;
  • The quantity of the drugs involved;
  • Whether you were engaged in the sale or distribution of drugs;
  • Whether you have previous drug offenses on your record;
  • Whether you have been previously treated for drug use;
  • Whether you were arrested with a firearm in your possession;
  • Whether your constitutional rights were violated from an unlawful search; and
  • Whether you arguably were not in actual possession of the drugs–e.g. The drugs were found inside a shared car or home.

An NYC drug crime lawyer can assess the particulars of your case to determine the best path forward so that you can get the best possible outcome. 

Potential Penalties You Face

The penalties you face will depend on your specific charges and the unique circumstances of your case. Generally, you could face the following penalties if convicted:

  • Misdemeanor drug possession: Up to 1 year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines
  • Felony drug possession or sale (ranging from class E to Class A-I felonies): From 1 year up to 20 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines, or more if you have been convicted of a felony within the last ten years
  • Trafficking: Up to 20 years in prison with an 8-year minimum sentence for non-major traffickers, and a minimum 15 year sentence up to life imprisonment for major traffickers. If you have been convicted of a felony within the last ten years, you will receive a higher sentencing range if you are convicted.

The consequences of a drug conviction can affect the rest of your life. A NYC drug crime lawyer can fight your charges and make sure that you get the best achievable outcome.

Our Drug Crime Lawyer Explains New York State’s Cannabis Law (Marijuana Law)

New York has recently legalized the possession and use of marijuana in small amounts. Under P.Law 222.05, people 21 years of age or older may: 

  • Possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana in public
  • Possess up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis
  • Give or transfer up to 3 ounces of marijuana or 24 grams of concentrated marijuana (note that this does not include selling marijuana or concentrated marijuana in any amount) 
  • Possess up to 3 mature cannabis plants and 3 immature cannabis plants, or 12 plants per household
  • You may store up to 5 pounds of marijuana at home if it is kept secure from access by people under the age of 21
  • Smoke or use marijuana anywhere that smoking tobacco would be allowed unless it is prohibited by another law, rule, or local policy

Possession of more than 3 ounces of marijuana or more than 24 grams of concentrated cannabis is now a violation, punishable by a fine of no more than $125.00. However, it is still a crime to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. In New York City, you cannot smoke marijuana in parks, at playgrounds, in pedestrian plazas, on boardwalks, or on beaches. 

Those who have prior convictions for marijuana offenses that have now been decriminalized will have their charges automatically expunged, meaning the conviction will be completely erased from their records. The courts have up to two years to expunge these convictions, but in the meantime, the convictions are being suppressed so that they do not appear on criminal background checks. Under the new law, there may be other offenses that are eligible for expungement or other relief upon motion. If you have any questions about New York’s marijuana laws or prior marijuana convictions, a NYC drug crime lawyer can get you the answers you need.    

Is it legal to possess marijuana in NY?

While the possession of a small amount of marijuana has been legalized, possession of larger amounts is still a crime. New York still has three degrees of criminal possession of marijuana that can be charged (unless a person is properly licensed to produce or distribute marijuana): 

  • Criminal Possession of Cannabis in the Third Degree (P.L 222.30): possession of more than 16 ounces of marijuana or more than 5 ounces of cannabis concentrate. This is a class A misdemeanor offense that carries a sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000 if you are convicted.
  • Criminal Possession of Cannabis in the Second Degree (P.L 222.35): possession of more than 5 pounds of marijuana or more than 2 pounds of cannabis concentrate. A class E felony, if convicted you face up to 4 years in prison–or more if you have been convicted of a felony within the last ten years–and a fine of up to $5,000. 
  • Criminal Possession of Cannabis in the First Degree (P.L 222.40): possession of more than 10 pounds of marijuana or more than four pounds of cannabis concentrate. First degree possession is a class D felony. If convicted you face a prison sentence of up to 7 years–or more if you have been convicted of a felony within the last ten years–and a fine of up to $5,000.  

Despite sweeping marijuana reform, you can still be charged for marijuana crimes more easily than you may think. You are legally allowed to store up to five pounds of marijuana at your home. You could face a misdemeanor charge if you take more than 16 ounces with you and are arrested on the way to a friend’s house. You could face a felony charge if you didn’t realize that you were transporting more than 5 pounds. 

These charges carry serious penalties and will go on your permanent record, which could impact your job and other opportunities. An NYC drug crimes lawyer can develop the right defense strategy for your case. 

What is the penalty for selling marijuana in New York State?

Except for those businesses that have a license to sell marijuana, the sale of marijuana largely remains illegal. The legislature did decriminalize the sale of small amounts of marijuana, however. The sale of 3 ounces or less of marijuana or 24 grams of cannabis concentrate is a violation subject to a fine of $250 under P.L 222.45. After that, the consequences become more serious. 

Criminal Sale of Cannabis in the Third Degree (P.L 222.50) applies in cases where: 

  1. You sold more than 3 ounces of marijuana or more than 24 grams of cannabis concentrate; or
  2. You sold marijuana to someone who was under 21 years old.

Criminal Sale of Cannabis in the Third Degree is a class A misdemeanor. If convicted, you could face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. 

Criminal Sale of Cannabis in the Second Degree (P.L 222.50) applies in cases where: 

  1. You sold more than 16 ounces of marijuana or more than 5 ounces of cannabis concentrate; or
  2. You sold more than 3 ounces or more than 24 grams of cannabis concentrate to someone less than 18 years old.

Criminal Sale of Cannabis in the Second Degree is a class E felony, and you face up to one and one half years in prison–or more if you have been convicted of a felony within the last ten years–and a maximum fine of $5,000.

The Criminal Sale of Cannabis in the First Degree (P.L 222.60) is a class D felony that carries a prison sentence of up to two and one half years in prison–or more if you have been convicted of a felony within the last ten years–and a fine of up to $5,000. You can be charged with Criminal Sale of Cannabis in the First Degree if you sold more than 5 pounds of marijuana or more than 2 pounds of cannabis concentrate. 

Aggravated Criminal Sale of Cannabis (P.L 222.65) is charged when you sell marijuana or cannabis concentrate weighing 100 pounds or more. Aggravated Criminal Sale of Cannabis is a class C felony carrying a penalty of up to five years in prison–or more if you have been convicted of a felony within the last ten years–and a fine of $15,000. 

A conviction for criminal sale of marijuana can have serious consequences. An experienced NYC drug crime lawyer can discuss your charges with you and develop a strategy to get you the best possible result. the sooner you can start moving toward a fair resolution. 

What are New York’s Drug Diversion Programs?

New York recognizes that many criminal defendants suffer from substance abuse issues and that treatment and counseling are often preferable to incarceration. As a result, you may be able to enter a drug diversion program and avoid jail time. An experienced  NYC drug crime lawyer can discuss whether you may qualify for drug diversion and what it may entail for your case. 

Drug diversion programs allow drug abusers to get the treatment they need and avoid jail time. You can request diversion any time between arraignment and your trial or the entry of a guilty plea. However, diversion is not automatic and must first be approved by the court. 

If drug diversion is granted, it will likely require you to complete an intensive drug program that can last over one year. Depending on your circumstances, the program could either be in an inpatient or outpatient facility. You will have to submit to regular drug and alcohol testing and attend regular court appearances. Failure to meet any of the conditions imposed by the court or the program could mean that you violated the terms of the diversion agreement, and the court could sentence you to prison. 

Agreeing to participate in a drug diversion program typically requires you to plead guilty before you enter treatment. Only after successfully completing treatment will your plea usually be withdrawn so that your case can be dismissed. Although you can get your conviction dismissed and sealed upon successful completion of the program, if the prosecution has a weak case against you, it can often be better to challenge the prosecution instead of accepting a diversion program. Obviously, if you have wrongfully been charged with a drug offense and you don’t have a drug problem, you would not want to participate in a lengthy drug program that is not useful to you. An experienced NYC drug crime lawyer like Cody can help you evaluate your options and find the best way forward. 

NYC Drug Crime Lawyer Cody Warner Can Develop the Right Strategy for Your Case 

If you are charged with a drug crime, you may have good options to favorably resolve your case. NYC Drug Crime Lawyer Cody Warner can assess your situation and determine the right path forward to get you the ideal outcome for your case. Call or email Cody today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and what he can do for you.