Heroin is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in New York state, which means lawmakers consider the drug to be highly addictive and a danger to society. As a result of this classification, possessing as little as half a gram of heroin is a felony offense in the Empire State. Knowingly selling heroin to others is always charged as a felony in New York, but distributing just 2 ounces of the drug is considered an A-1 felony, which is the state’s highest crime designation.
New York heroin penalties
The New York penal code gives judges a great deal of discretion in narcotics cases. The maximum penalties for possessing or distributing heroin are harsh in New York, but few offenders are given the maximum sentence. Offenders who sold heroin to make money are treated more harshly than addicts who turned to drug dealing out of desperation, and narcotics defendants who sold drugs to adults receive more lenient sentences than defendants who conducted drug deals on school grounds or sold drugs to children.
New York heroin charges
Possessing even trace amounts of heroin is a Class A misdemeanor in New York, but heroin possession becomes a Class D felony when between 500 milligrams and an eighth of an ounce of the drug are discovered. Possessing more then 4 ounces of heroin is charged as a Class A-II felony in New York, but the harshest penalties are handed down to individuals found in possession of more than 8 ounces of the drug. These offenders are charged with Class A-I felonies, and they can spend decades behind bars if their criminal defense attorneys are unable to establish reasonable doubt. Selling less than half an ounce of heroin is a Class D felony in New York, but individuals accused of distributing larger quantities of the drug face Class A-I or A-II felony charges.
Nonviolent narcotics offenders in New York who committed their crimes while in the grasp of addiction rarely receive lengthy custodial sentences. This is because judges can now place them in drug or alcohol treatment programs that are supervised by the court. These diversion programs treat addiction, reduce recidivism rates and save taxpayers money.