Fri 28 Jul, 2023 Drugs

How to Beat a PL 220.03 Charge

PL 220.03—the New York statute for simple drug possession—is one of the most common criminal charges in New York.

Although PL 220.03 is a crime—and therefore you could get a criminal record if convicted—you may be able to beat the charge. Even if you do not have a strong defense, an experienced drug crime lawyer may be able to get your charges dropped.

This article discusses the definition of PL 220.03, the most common defenses, and the typical outcomes.

Definition of PL 220.03

PL 220.03 is the statute for Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree.

A person is guilty of PL 220.03 when he or she “knowingly and unlawfully possesses a controlled substance.”

Public Health Law Section 3306 lists the substances that are considered controlled substances in New York. Although many drugs are controlled substances under New York law, some of them are more common in criminal court. Many PL 220.03 charges involve cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, ecstasy, methamphetamine, and LSD. Notably, marijuana is not a controlled substance.

Although the statute is straightforward, defenses exist for this charge that can result in dismissal.

Illegal Search Defense

With any drug case, a basic question to ask is, “where did the police find the drugs?”

Most people who possess drugs don’t flaunt them in public. Instead, they hide the drugs in public, and they use the drugs in private locations. Therefore, in most scenarios, the police did not observe the drugs in plain view. Instead, they found the drugs after searching a person or his car or home.

So, the question becomes whether the police were legally justified in conducting the search. If the police falsely arrested or searched you without probable cause, you may be able to get the drugs suppressed from evidence.

In other words, if the police obtained the drugs after violated your civil rights, your lawyer may be able to convince the judge to throw out the drugs as evidence in court. If the prosecution can’t use the drugs—or the officer’s testimony about finding the drugs—as evidence in court, then the prosecution doesn’t have a case against you. When that happens, the prosecution typically drops the PL 220.03 charges.

No Possession Defense

Another common defense with PL 220.03 cases is that you didn’t actually possess the drugs. This defense typically applies when the drugs are found in a communal area.

For instance, if the police pull over a car and find drugs under a seat, they may charge all of the passengers with drug possession. However, you wouldn’t necessarily know the drugs were in the car just because you were in the car. For instance, it might not be your car. Or, even if it is your car, one of your passengers may have brought the drugs along without your knowledge. Without more evidence, the prosecution will have trouble proving possession.

Another common possession defense scenario involves when drugs are found inside of a home and the people in the home are all arrested. When that happens, it’s important to consider the details. Who actually lives in the home? Is someone else on the lease? Who else has access to the home? If the answer to those questions include others, the defendant may have a good case.

Typical PL 220.03 Case Outcomes

If you have a strong defense, then you can oftentimes get your charges dropped.

However, even if you do not have a strong defense, you may still be able to get your charges dismissed.

If this was your first arrest and you received a Desk Appearance Ticket, your lawyer may be able to convince the prosecution to reduce the charges. Such outcomes are common in New York City criminal courts.

Even if you do have a criminal record, your lawyer can typically negotiate a time-served sentence.

Need Help with a PL 220.03 Charge?

If you are facing PL 220.03 charges, contact NYC criminal lawyer Cody Warner for a free consultation. He can evaluate your case to determine the best strategy in effort to get your charges dropped.