New York’s possession of a controlled substance laws prohibit having anything on the controlled substances list without a legal reason. If you’ve been charged with this crime, it could affect you financially and even result in prison time, depending on the exact circumstances of the case. That’s why it’s important to fully understand how these crimes work. Here’s what you need to know about New York’s possession laws.
What Is Possession of a Controlled Substance?
The New York criminal code stipulates that knowing possession of a controlled substance without a lawful reason is a crime. It also clarifies what drugs are considered controlled substances. This includes both street drugs, such as cocaine, crack and LSD, and prescription medications, such as Xanax or Vicodin. Possession isn’t limited to substances that you have on your person. You could also be charged with possession for having the substance in your house, the glovebox of your car or any other property that belongs to you.
It’s important to note that for a crime to have been committed, possession must have been knowing and unlawful. If you were unaware of the substance despite it being in your possession, that wouldn’t mean you’re guilty of a crime. The same is true if there was a lawful reason for you to have the substance. For example, if you had a prescription for the drug or if you were temporarily transferring it with legal authorization, you wouldn’t be guilty of any crime.
What Are the Penalties for Possession of a Controlled Substance?
The possible penalties for a charge of possession of a controlled substance depend on how much of the substance you had in your possession. The degrees of possession charges and how New York classifies them are as follows:
The amount of a substance necessary for each category depends on the type of substance. Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree is unique in that it also applies, regardless of the substance amount, if you intended to sell the substance.
Each charge can result in a prison sentence, with sentences increasing for each degree. Sentences can also increase if you have prior offenses on your record. There can also be fines and probation for possession charges.
Defending Against Possession of a Controlled Substance
Many potential defenses exist for this type of charge; it simply depends on the evidence in your case. A lawyer can help you figure out the best defense strategy.
You may be able to argue that you weren’t aware of the substance, which would mean you unknowingly possessed it. For example, if someone leaves a substance in your car and the police later find it, you could avoid charges if you can prove you didn’t know the substance was there.
If the substance was a prescription medication and you had a valid prescription for it, you could present that to get your charges dismissed.
How the police found the substance can also come into play. They need to have probable cause before searching you or your property. If they didn’t, the search would be illegal, rendering their evidence inadmissible.
How Our Lawyers Can Help
You don’t need to fight a possession charge on your own, and in fact, it’s smarter to hire a lawyer to represent you. Our possession of a controlled substance lawyers have the skills and experience to assess your case, give you advice on what you can do and help you get the best result. That may be going to trial to fight the charges, or it may be setting up a favorable plea.