Even the smallest amounts of cocaine can result in a criminal possession of a controlled substance charge, which can have a serious effect on your life. You could be facing time in prison and costly fines. If you’ve been charged with cocaine possession, here’s what you need to know about the crime.
How New York’s Cocaine Possession Laws Work
New York has cocaine on its controlled substances list, which makes the drug illegal to possess, sell or manufacture. If you knowingly possession cocaine, that would be considered criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to have the cocaine on your person to be considered in possession of it. If it’s found in your home, your car or any other property that belongs to you, that may also lead to a possession charge.
Your exact charge will depend on how much cocaine was in your possession. There are also other factors that can make penalties for cocaine possession more severe. For example, if you possessed it while in a school zone or you were also selling cocaine, you would be looking at harsher penalties.
Cocaine Possession Penalties in New York
The potential penalties you could be facing for cocaine possession depend on what degree of substance possession you’re charged with.
The least severe possession charge is criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, which applies if you possessed less than 500 milligrams of cocaine. As a class A misdemeanor, it carries a max jailtime sentence of one year.
Next is criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, which applies if you possessed at least 500 milligrams of cocaine but less than 1/8 ounce, or if it’s believed that you had intent to sell. As a class D felony, it carries a prison sentence of one to two-and-a-half years.
There’s criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree for possession of at least 1/8 ounce but less than ½ ounce. As a class C felony, it carries a prison sentence of one to five-and-a-half years.
Possession of at least ½ ounce but less than 4 ounces is criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree. As a class B felony, it carries a prison sentence of one to nine years.
For amounts of at least 4 ounces but under 8 ounces, it’s criminal possession of a controlled substance in the in the second degree. As a class A-II felony, it carries a prison sentence of three to 10 years.
Finally, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree applies with amounts over 8 ounces. As a class A-1 felony, it carries a prison sentence of eight to 20 years.
Those sentences are for first offenders, and if you have priors, your sentence could be higher. However, it’s also possible to get a lower sentence, especially if you negotiate a plea deal.
Defenses for Cocaine Possession
There can be a variety of defenses used for a cocaine possession charge depending on your specific circumstances. If you had a legal reason to temporarily have cocaine in your possession, that would qualify.
It’s also important to remember that for you to be guilty of cocaine possession, you must have known you were in possession of it. If there’s enough evidence to create reasonable doubt that you knew you had cocaine on your person or in your property, then that could be used as a defense.
How the police found cocaine in your possession is also important. If it was through an illegal search and seizure, that could be crucial for your defense.
How We Can Help You Fight Your Cocaine Possession Charge
When you’ve been charged with cocaine possession in any degree, the first thing you should do is hire a skilled cocaine possession attorney. We have attorneys available who can look at your case, figure out what the best move is for your defense and advise you on how to proceed. We can talk to the prosecution about plea bargains and represent you in court.