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NY Penal Law § 220.21: Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree

June 24, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

NY Penal Law § 220.21: Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree

The more drugs you are found in possession of the more serious the crime and the harsher the sentence under New York law,. This is due to the assumption that if you have a large amount of drugs, it is less likely that they are simply for your personal use and more likely that you plan to sell them. You have committed a Class A-1 felony under New York Penal Code § 220.21 if you have 8 ounces or more of a narcotic drug or 5,760 milligrams of methadone in your possession.

 

Examples

The police receive a tip about a car that allegedly contained cocaine. Knowing the make and model of the car from the informant, a police officer spotted the car on the New York State Thruway. AS the officer followed the vehicle, the officer observed that the driver changed lanes without signaling. After calling for backup, the police officer pulled the car over. Teh officer conducted a pat-down search of the driver.  During the search, the officer discovered a rectangular-shaped package of cocaine taped to the driver’s leg. The driver could be prosecuted for criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree if the amount of cocaine found on his person was enough to meet the requirements of the statute.

 

Offenses that are Related

Operating as a major trafficker: New York Penal Law § 220.77

Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 220.43

 

Possible Defenses

If you get arrested for first degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, you might be able to challenge the charge on the basis of the quantity of drugs found during the incident. If the drug is a narcotic and the amount is under 8 ounces, or if the drug is methadone and an amount less than 5,760 milligrams, then a change of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree cannot be validated.

 

Another strong defense would be to attack the method the police employed to discover the drugs. For them  to conduct any search of a citizen, the police must have probable cause. If the search was deemed to have been unlawful, any evidence which the search produced, including illicit drugs, would be inadmissible in court and your case would have to be dismissed.

 

The Sentence

Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree is among the most egregious offenses in the New York Penal Codes. Right along with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree and operating as a majority trafficker, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree is categorized as a  Class A-1 felony.  If you get convicted you may be sentenced to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

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