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NY Penal Law § 220.45: Criminally possessing a hypodermic instrument

June 24, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

NY Penal Law § 220.45: Criminally possessing a hypodermic instrument

In addition to the fact that it is against the law to possess, manufacture or sell illegal drugs, under New York Penal Code § 220.45 it is also unlawful to possess a hypodermic needle that could be used to inject such drugs into the bloodstream. To get convicted of the crime of criminally possessing a hypodermic instrument, a criminal prosecutor must demonstrate that the defendant knowingly and unlawfully possessed or sold a hypodermic syringe or hypodermic needle. Whether or not the needle contained an illegal drug or the residue of an illegal drug is not an important factor for this charge to be valid.


An Example

A police officer observed a woman leaving a bar.  Several minutes later, the officer observed that a man followed the woman out of the same bar.  The officer saw the man approach the woman and witnessed the woman handing the man what appeared to be some money. The officer then observed the man remove something from his pocket and give it to the woman. The woman then re-entered the bar. Since the area where the bar is located has a reputation for high drug activity, the officer had a reasonable suspicion that a drug buy had occurred. The officer approached the woman and patted her down. The search revealed heroin and a hypodermic needle. The woman could be prosecuted for criminally possessing a hypodermic instrument in addition to criminal possession of a controlled substance.


Offenses that are Related

Criminal Injection of a Narcotic Drug: New York Penal Law § 220.48

Criminal possession of precursors of controlled substances: New York Penal Code § 220.6

Criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second degree: New York Penal Code § 220.50


Criminal possession of methamphetamine manufacturing material in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 220.71

Criminal possession of methamphetamine manufacturing material in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 220.70


Possible Defenses

Under the statute, a plausible defense to a charge of criminally possessing a hypodermic instrument is that you possess the instrument in connection with a written prescription from a licensed medical practitioner, or that you otherwise lawfully possess the hypodermic needle or syringe pursuant to the provisions of New York Public Health Law § 3381 for reasons other than injecting illicit drugs.


The Sentence

Since criminally possessing a hypodermic instrument is categorized as a class A misdemeanor, if convicted, you could be sentenced to no more than 1 year in jail. Your sentence might also include a 3 year probation term. In deciding your sentencing, the judge would consider the crime committed, the details of the crime, your criminal history and your personal background. If you are a first time offender, then your sentence would be a lot less severe than if you have a criminal record.



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