New York Penal Code § 220.55: Criminally using drug paraphernalia in the first degree

Selling or using illegal drugs is a crime in the state of New York. The state also makes it illegal to use drug paraphernalia. New York Penal Code § 220.55 defines what it means to criminally use drug paraphernalia in the first degree. One stipulation is in order to receive a first degree charge, you must have a previous second degree conviction. Furthermore, the courts must prove you purposely sell or own:

1. Adulterants, diluents, or dilutants for preparing illegal drugs.
2. Materials used for packaging illegal drugs, such as vials, capsules, glassine envelopes, or gelatine capsules.
3. Balances and scales used specifically for measuring or weighing narcotics.

In addition to the above, the court must also prove that you knew the items were for manufacturing or selling drugs.

Case Example
The police obtained a search warrant to search a man’s home. More than 200 small plastic bags were found in the kitchen. And more than 100 small plastic bags were found in a bedroom closet. Some of the bags in the closet were filled with cocaine. The remaining bags in the closet were filled with heroin. Police officers reached the conclusion that all of the bags were for packaging illegal narcotics. The man already had a previous second degree drug paraphernalia charge. So this latest incident earned him a first degree drug paraphernalia charge.

Additional Laws Related to Drug Paraphernalia
Even if you’re not guilty of New York Penal Code § 220.55, you might find yourself facing a different kind of paraphernalia charge.

1. New York Penal Code § 220.50 addresses criminal use of drug paraphernalia in the second degree.
2. New York Penal Code § 220.60 addresses criminal possession of substances used to make narcotics.
3. New York Penal Code § 220.70 addresses criminal possession of equipment used to make methamphetamine.
4. New York Penal Code § 220.71 addresses first degree criminal possession of ingredients used in making methamphetamine.

Defense against New York Penal Code § 220.55
Some of the items that New York Penal Code § 220.55 bans can be used for other purposes. Just because you have certain items, like empty glass vials, doesn’t automatically mean you’re planning to make or sell narcotics. For a conviction, the courts must have proof that you’re intentions were criminal in nature. If the courts have no proof you planned to commit criminal activity, then that’s a defense against the charge. On the other hand, if the courts do have proof of criminal intent, then a conviction is likely.

Sentencing Possibilities
Using drug paraphernalia for criminal intent is a class D felony. You’re breaking the law by having the drug paraphernalia. And the crime also counts as a drug crime. A prison sentence between 2 to 7 years is likely.

In order to get charged with a first degree possession charge, you must have faced a second degree conviction. An attorney can help if you feel the charges against you are unfounded. And if the charges are true, an attorney can possibly help you receive the lightest punishment possible under the law.

The Benefits of Legal Assistance
A drug paraphernalia conviction can get you at least 2 years in jail. But you could serve up to 7 years in jail. No matter how many years you get, those are lost years that you’ll never get back. And depending on the circumstances, you could face additional charges for a drug offense.

Consider contacting an attorney experienced with handling drug-related cases. An attorney who knows the laws and has experience with the legal system is your best option for a possibly favorable outcome

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