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NY Penal Law § 220.72: Criminal possession of precursors of methamphetamine

June 24, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

NY Penal Law § 220.72: Criminal possession of precursors of methamphetamine

In New York, it is against the law to unlawfully manufacture methamphetamine, or meth. In an effort to crack down on such activity, under New York Penal Code § 220.72, it is also against the law to be in possession of the precursors or ingredients required to make methamphetamine. Some examples of precursors of methamphetamine include acetone, toluene, lithium, hydrochloric acid, red phosphorus,pseudoephedrine, sodium hydroxide, and sulfuric acid. Most of these materials can be found or derived from common household products and can be easily and legally purchased at a local grocery or big box store.


One Example

On the basis of a tip the police received, they executed a search warrant on a residence that allegedly was used as a methamphetamine laboratory (a meth lab). In the course of the search, the police officers did not find any meth in the home, but did find the following:


  1. Acetone-based nail polish remover
  2. Lithium batteries
  3. Cold medication that contains pseudoephedrine
  4. Match boxes that have red phosphorus on them
  5. Drain cleaner with sodium hydroxide as an ingredient
  6. Toilet bowl with sulfuric acid as an ingredient
  7. Countertop cleaner with anhydrous ammonia as an ingredient
  8. Commonly used lighter fluid


Based on what they found, the police arrested the woman who was renting the home. In an unexpected turn of events, the prosecutor declined to prosecute her due to the fact that while each of the items seized could be used to make meth, they also could each be used for other purposes. Add to that the fact that the police did not gather any evidence that the items were indeed intended for use in manufacturing meth, and the charge would not have had any merit.


Offenses that are Related

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

Unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine in the second degree: New York Penal Code § 220.74

Unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 220.75

New York Penal Law § 220.71

New York Penal Law § 220.73


Possible Defenses

Should you be charged with the drug crime of criminal possession of precursors of methamphetamine, you may be able to successfully argue that there is an innocuous reason for possessing such ingredients. An alternative way to respond to the charge is to argue that the search that revealed the ingredients was unlawful. 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 possession of precursors of methamphetamine is categorized as a Class E felony, if you are convicted, the maximum possible prison sentence that you could face is 4 years. Your sentence may also include a fine as well as a 5 year probation term.  For the purpose of determining your sentence, the judge will take several factors into consideration.  These factors include the crime committed, the details of the crime, your criminal history and your personal background.



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