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NY Penal Law § 220.31: Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree

June 24, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

NY Penal Law § 220.31: Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree

The offense of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree is among the least serious crimes related to selling narcotics. Nevertheless, it is still a felony offense. Under New York Penal Code § 220.31, you will have committed this crime if you knowingly and unlawfully sell a controlled substance. Unlike other drug sale offenses, there is no minimum quantity of the drugs that you must sell or attempt to sell in order to face prosecution under this statute. The prosecutor will still be able to charge you with this offense if the quantity of the drugs found in your possession is not enough to warrant a more serious drug selling charge.


For Example

Two police officers witness a man exchange a small vial for cash with someone else. The officers arrest the man as well as the other person. When they search the men, they recover a tiny vial filled with a small amount of cocaine. Since the quantity of the cocaine in the vial is so small, the man who sold the narcotic is charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree.


Offenses that are Related

Criminal sale of a controlled substance in or near school grounds: New York Penal Code § 220.44

Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree: New York Penal Code § 220.06


Possible Defenses

In the event that you are charged with fifth degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, one defense that would benefit you greatly is if you could  successfully challenge the method the police used to discover the drugs. Pursuant to the law, in order to conduct a search, whether it is a search of your car, apartment or office, the police must demonstrate that they had probable cause to do so. If it is determined that the search was unlawful, anything which the search produced, including illicit drugs, would be inadmissible in court and your case would likely be dismissed.


The Sentence

Due to the fact that criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree is categorized as a class D felony, if you are convicted your possible sentence will be as much as 17 years in prison. Your actual sentence will be determined on the basis of a number of factors, including whether or not you have a prior felony conviction. Your sentence could also include a probation term of 5 years, as well as a fine.



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