In New York, possession of certain controlled substances may result in significant criminal penalties. New York Penal Code § 220.21, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, is the most serious possession of a controlled substance crime a person can receive in New York.
Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree involves the possession of certain narcotic drugs. A person may be convicted if they knowingly and unlawfully possess:
1) one or more preparations, compounds, and mixtures or substances containing a narcotic drug and said preparations, compounds, and mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of 8 ounces or more; or
2) methadone and said methadone where is 5760 mg Or more.
A “narcotic drug” means any controlled substance listed in schedule I(b), I(c), II(b) or II(c).
If you are convicted of a criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, it is a class A-I felony. If convicted, you face a possibility of up to life in prison. There is a mandatory minimum prison term of 15 years, which means you will serve at least that amount of time if convicted. You may also face significant fines.
If you have been charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, there may be certain defenses available. The prosecution must be able to approve each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt and defenses may create doubt to bar a conviction.
One defense that may be available is to challenge the validity of any lab results associated with the case. When police gather drug evidence and submit it for testing, they must comply with certain procedures. If it can be shown that the police did not follow the proper procedures in collecting and transferring the evidence, then there may be a defense available. Also, the lab technicians must comply with specific procedures to ensure the validity of the test results.
In possession cases, a person’s fourth amendment rights are often implicated. The fourth amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Because possession crimes typically involve the a search that results in discovery of the controlled substance, there may be a defense available that relates to unreasonable searches. If the police obtained the drugs through a search and did not have a valid search warrant, then the search must fall within an exception to the search warrant requirement. If the police cannot identify an exception to that requirement, then the evidence obtained must be excluded from your case.
In some cases, there may be insufficient evidence to prove possession of the narcotic. For example, if police merely found the drug in mirror proximity to the person, but cannot prove that the person knew of the drug’s presence or otherwise exercised any control over it, then the prosecution cannot show the elements of possession and you should not be convicted of that offense.
What should you do if you are charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance?
If you have been charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the second degree, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A criminal defense attorney can advise you of your rights and help you understand your options. An attorney can be present with you during any questioning about the case to help protect you and preserve your constitutional rights.
After charges are brought, a criminal defense attorney can request discovery from the prosecution to see what evidence it intends to bring against you. After reviewing the evidence, a criminal defense attorney can identify any defenses that may be available to your case.
A criminal defense attorney can assist in negotiating a plea agreement or present any defenses if applicable. They will act as your advocate throughout all stages of the case and strive to achieve the best results possible. Contact a criminal defense attorney if you are facing charges.