New York Penal Code section 220.03: Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree

New York Penal Code section 220.03.html involves criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. It is the lowest offense that can be charged if a person is in unlawful possession of a controlled substance in the State of New York. The crime is classified as a class A misdemeanor and punishable by 364 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $1,000. Probation might be an alternative.

Section 220.03
The statute governing criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree follows: “A person is guilty of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree when he or she knowingly and unlawfully possesses a controlled substance; provided, however, that it shall not be a violation of this section when a person possesses a residual amount of a controlled substance and that residual amount is in or on a hypodermic syringe or hypodermic needle obtained and possessed pursuant to section thirty-three hundred and eighty-one of the public health law; nor shall it be a violation of this section when a person’s unlawful possession of a controlled substance is discovered as a result of seeking immediate health care as defined in paragraph (b) of subdivision three of section 220.78 of the penal law, for another person or him or herself because such person is experiencing a drug or alcohol overdose or other life threatening medical emergency as defined in paragraph (a) of subdivision three of section 220.78 of the penal law.”

Weight Does Not Matter
The pertinent part of the statute simply states that a person is guilty of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree when he or she knowingly and unlawfully possesses a controlled substance. Even possessing a miniscule amount of any controlled substance is actionable. Weight is irrelevant under the statute but if the weight of the substance exceeds the statutory threshold, the misdemeanor can be upgraded to a felony. Section 3306 of the New York Public Health Law specifies which substances are controlled. The list is extensive. Some of the drugs that people typically possess and are prosecuted for include the following:

  • Cocaine in any form.
  • Painkillers like oxycodone or Vicodin.
  • Heroin.
  • Methamphetamine.

Defenses
There are two pivotal defenses to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. Public health laws in New York allow certain people to possess hypodermic needles. If a person is in lawful possession of a needle that has a tiny amount of heroin on it, he or she cannot be prosecuted. Another exception exists for those who sought medical assistance for a person who overdosed or had another medical emergency.

Strategize Early
Even a misdemeanor conviction on a drug charge can carry consequences for the rest of your life. A legal strategy must be developed in order to either have the charge dismissed or reduced. For example, if you were not in actual possession of the controlled substance, the state must charge you with constructive possession of it. That is a much more defensible charge. The state should be made aware of any such defense early on in the prosecution of the case against you.

Always remember that you are presumed innocent. The prosecution has the burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Do not give the police any type of a statement or confession. It will only be used against you in efforts to prove you guilty of the crime. Exercise your right to remain silent along with your right to an attorney. Contact our offices at your earliest opportunity to arrange for a free consultation and case review. We’re going to listen to your rendition of the facts of the case and answer your questions, After that, we will advise you on the full range of legal choices that you can make. Contact us right away after any drug arrest.

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