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Penalties for drug possession in New York

On Behalf of | Jun 11, 2021 | Drug Charges

Most state laws define possession, or constructive possession, as willfully being in control of an illegal substance. Controlled substance laws regulate the buying, distributing and selling of drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, and certain prescription drugs. Anyone caught in Syracuse, New York, possessing illicit substances can face criminal charges.

Overview of drug laws

New York criminal law makes it illegal to buy, sell or manufacture controlled substances, including some prescriptions. Possession is often broken down into two distinct factors: possession with intent to sell or possession for personal or medical use.

Controlled substances are classified by the potential for abuse, ranking from Schedule I to Schedule V. Substances listed as Schedule I have the highest risk for abuse, and Schedule V has the highest risk.

The prosecution applies charges based on circumstances such as the type of substances, prior convictions or firearm involvement. Defendants age 16 and older often get tried in adult court.

Penalties for possession

A first-time charge for possession of one-eighth ounces of cocaine or a mixture counts as fourth-degree charge. Common penalties include a one- to five-year jail term and a maximum $5,000 fine.

A first-time offense for possessing a specific amount of certain substances counts as a fourth-degree Class C felony. These substances include an eighth ounce or more of methamphetamine, one gram of stimulants and 25 milligrams of hallucinogens. Possession of a narcotic with intent to sell could include a jail sentence of one to nine years and a $30,000 fine.

Certain circumstances and prior convictions could enhance sentencing. While prosecution has the burden of proof, defendants need a good defense team to help them fight the charges or get them reduced.

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