27 Jul 23

220.03 Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree

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Last Updated on: 16th August 2023, 06:54 pm

In New York, it’s illegal to possess a controlled substance without a lawful reason. If you’re convicted of having a controlled substance without authorization, it’s a violation of New York law 220.03 or another similar law. New York divides controlled substances charges into degrees based on the severity of the charge. First-degree possession of a controlled substance is the most serious of the state’s controlled substance offenses. Seventh-degree charges for substance possession are the least serious of the New York controlled substance possession charges.

A person who faces charges for controlled substance possession in the seventh degree in New York faces a class A misdemeanor. The offender may receive a sentence from the court of up to one year in jail. One year in jail is the maximum possible offense. There are things that you may be able to do in order to minimize your exposure to jail time including demonstrating rehabilitation, participation in recovery court or showing the court that you lack a criminal history.

What is a controlled substance for seventh-degree controlled substance charges in New York?

A controlled substance may be a drug like cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine. A controlled substance can also be a narcotic that is lawfully prescribed in some cases. Any type of drug that has restricted possession in some cases can be a controlled substance.

Elements for seventh-degree substance charges in New York State

There are several elements that make up the charge of criminal substance possession in New York State:

  • The person must knowingly possess the substance
  • The substance must be a controlled substance
  • It may not be only a residual amount as part of a syringe or needle exchange program
  • The case may not have come to law enforcement’s attention because of a health care emergency

First, law enforcement must show that the person charged knows that they’re in possession of a substance that falls under the controlled substance law. For example, if you think that a substance is a cooking ingredient and it turns out to be a controlled substance, you’re not in violation of the law. Law enforcement might try to prove that you’re in possession of the substance when you’re really just one person near the substance. For example, if a substance is found in the common area of a shared home with many roommates, it may be impossible for law enforcement to determine who is to blame for the substance. Proving intent and proving the defendant’s intentions can be two challenges for law enforcement for seventh-degree drug charges.

Options when you’re facing seventh-degree drug charges

Although all drug possession charges are serious, New York’s criminal justice system has some options to treat offenders rather than simply punish them. You may be able to take advantage of a diversion program that can help you move away from drug use. You may receive a valuable plea reduction or outright dismissal of your claim in exchange for voluntary participation in the program.

You might qualify to participate in a drug treatment program. A drug treatment program is a serious commitment that involves repeated court appearances and intense monitoring. However, state attorneys often offer generous charge reductions in exchange for participation in the program. If you are a non-violent offender, you may qualify to take advantage of the program. In addition, there may be other programs for youthful offenders or first-time offenders that can help you reduce your charges and show the courts that you’re a community contributor who deserves a special dispensation. Your attorney for seventh-degree drug and controlled substance possession charges in New York can help you determine your qualifications and make the appropriate inquiries to participate in a program or request a special dispensation.

Fighting controlled substance charges in New York

It’s important to aggressively fight against any drug charge because you don’t know what the future might bring. A drug charge may have serious consequences for your future ambitions. Fortunately, a skilled attorney for drug possession charges can help you fight against seventh-degree drug charges in New York. Reviewing the elements of the claim, building a strong defense and exploring all options can help you protect your future when you face controlled substance charges.

Don’t deal with 220.03 criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree alone. Speak to the Spodek Law Group today.

Not all drug crimes in New York have the same penalties. The legislators who made New York’s drug laws say that some drug crimes are more severe than others based on the circumstances of the offense. Sale of a large amount of a drug is a serious offense, while possession of a small quantity of a drug is a less serious offense. In New York law, criminal drug possession is divided by degrees. A first-degree offense is the most serious while a seventh-degree offense is the least serious.

As the least serious of the drug possession charges, possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree is a misdemeanor. In fact, it’s the only classification of a drug possession crime that’s a misdemeanor. All of the other drug possession crimes are felonies. A violation of the seventh-degree controlled substance law is a misdemeanor.

What’s the crime?

A person commits the crime of seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance when they knowingly have a controlled substance in their possession without proper legal authority. The law goes on to say that it’s not a violation to have only a residual amount of a substance on a hypodermic needle or a syringe if it’s part of the state needle exchange program. Also, the state can’t charge a violation if it comes to law enforcement attention because a person is seeking medical care for a drug overdose.

Possession must be knowing

Possession of a drug is a crime that can’t happen accidentally. That means, if someone puts the drugs in your bag or backpack, you’re not guilty if you don’t know that they’re there. There also may be some debate as to whether the drug is actually in your possession. If there are a lot of people that the drugs might belong to, the police may not be able to prove this element of the crime.

Other available defenses

It’s up to the police to prove that the substance is illegal. They should formally test the substance rather than make assumptions. If you have a substance in your possession that isn’t a controlled substance, you haven’t broken any laws.

In addition, the police can’t violate your constitutional rights in order to find the drugs. If you don’t consent to a search, the police must get a search warrant or exercise one of the few, limited exceptions to the search warrant rule. When the police violate your constitutional rights, you can ask the court to intervene. Because the courts don’t want to reward police when they violate citizen rights, if the court agrees with you, they may throw out the evidence against you.

Drug court programs

Because criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree is a class A misdemeanor, you may qualify for participation in drug court. Drug treatment courts exist in order to help people address drug problems rather than simply getting caught breaking a law and going to jail. You may be able to get a reduction in the charges against you or avoid jail in exchange for participation in a drug court program.

Drug courts require a commitment and additional court appearances. However, in exchange, there’s a good chance that you may be able to get a reduction in your charges. You can work with your attorney in order to review the eligibility requirements to see if pursuing participation is a good choice in your case. Participation in recovery court requires a plea agreement with the state’s attorney. You should review your case for viable defenses to determine if your best option is to take your case to trial or pursue another resolution to your case.