Being convicted of a drug crime in New York can have serious consequences, including prison time and fines. If you are convicted of drug possession or drug trafficking charge, you will have a criminal record that could affect your future employment and housing opportunities. You will need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you fight your drug possession or distribution charge in New York. At Thomas Weiss & Associates, our criminal defense lawyers have a proven track record of fighting drug charges on behalf of our clients.
Drug Schedules in New York
Two different factors determine what type of crime prosecutors will charge a defendant with, mainly, the type of drug used and the quantity. Based on these factors, the prosecution may charge you with a misdemeanor or felony drug charge. If you are convicted of a felony, you face over a year of jail time. However, different factors, such as whether the crime was committed in a school zone and your criminal history, can affect the penalties you face.
In New York, there are six different categories, called schedules, of illicit controlled drugs. Schedule I controlled substances are the most addictive and dangerous. Meth, heroin, LSD, and mephedrone are all examples of Schedule I drugs in New York. Schedule II drugs include opium, anabolic steroids, morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, and methamphetamine. Schedule V drugs are the least addictive and typically have some type of purpose for medical treatment. Schedule V drugs include specific quantities of depressants, stimulants, and narcotic drugs, such as codeine.
Fighting Drug Possession Charges in New York City
Drug possession charges are the least severe type of criminal charges related to drugs in New York. However, that doesn’t mean that drug possession charges don’t carry severe penalties. For example, if you are caught with less than 25 grams of marijuana, you will receive a fine and a citation. If you are caught with 25 grams to an ounce of marijuana, you will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison.
The more addictive the drug, the higher the penalties. For example, possession of half an ounce or more of methamphetamine in New York will result in a Class C felony charge, punishable by a prison sentence between one and five and a half years. Possession of half an ounce of cocaine will result in a Class B felony charge that carries between one and nine years in prison. When you are facing drug possession charges, your future is at risk, and you need an experienced defense lawyer on your side.
Fighting Drug Sale Charges in New York
The penalties for selling drugs are higher than those of simple drug possession. At Thomas Weiss & Associates, we have successfully represented many clients facing charges related to selling drugs. Depending on the type of drug, you can face up to 10 years in prison, even if you have only sold a relatively small amount of the drug. For example, possession with the intent to sell cocaine is a Class B misdemeanor that carries up to nine years of prison time. If you are charged with selling an ounce or more of cocaine, you will face Class A-II felony charges, punishable by three to 10 years in prison.
Fighting Drug Trafficking Charges in New York City
Drug trafficking charges are different then charges related to selling drugs. Anytime you are charged with trafficking a controlled substance worth $75,000 or more, you can face charges for major trafficking under New York law. The penalties for drug trafficking depend on the circumstances in your case. You could face life in prison if you are convicted of drug trafficking charges. In some cases, the federal government prosecutes drug trafficking cases.
The Best Legal Defenses Against Drug Charges in New York
Every drug crime case is unique and will require a unique legal defense based on the case’s facts. However, there are some legal strategies that criminal defense lawyers used in many drug crime cases. First, your criminal defense lawyer will investigate your case and determine whether law enforcement engaged in an illegal search and seizure that violates your rights. For example, if the police officer searched your car or home without the necessary warrant or probable cause, your lawyer can ask the court to throw out the evidence they gathered against you.
Second, if the drugs were not actually in your possession when you are arrested, you can challenge the prosecutor’s case. The prosecutor may try to prove that you were in constructive possession of the drugs, meaning you had control over the area where law enforcement found the drugs. Prosecutors have to prove that you knew about the drugs and the ability to exercise control over the property or person from whom law enforcement seized the drugs. If you were unaware of the substances, you could challenge the prosecution’s claim of actual construction.
Finally, you may have had a qualifying medical condition that allows you to possess marijuana. Or, you may contend that you were using a prescription drug according to the doctor’s orders. The prosecution must prove every element of the specific crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Your lawyer will be able to gather evidence challenging the prosecution’s case against you. You may want to accept a plea bargain for a lower crime. Or, you may want to take the case to trial and try to prove your innocence.
Contact an NYC Drug Charges Lawyer Today
The criminal defense lawyers at Thomas Weiss & Associates understand how devastating a criminal drug conviction can be for a defendant. New York prosecutors take drug-related crime seriously. If you would like to avoid the consequences of a drug possession or trafficking charge, you need a qualified criminal defense lawyer. If you have been charged with drug possession or trafficking in New York, contact Thomas Weiss & Associates today to schedule your free case evaluation. We will protect your rights throughout the process.