Bronx Drug Lawyer
Arrests in connection with drugs or controlled substances are not minor issues, and the laws are not necessarily easy to understand. State drug laws are complex, and these charges can involve federal statutes as well.
Because the penalties can be so harsh and a simple finding of fact can have a tremendous impact on the severity of the offense, it is wise for those facing narcotics charges to find an experienced Bronx drug lawyer who can provide legal guidance. An individual should consult a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney from the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman who could advocate on their behalf.
How are Penalties for Drug Crimes Determined?
New York Penal Law defines several different drug offenses. In addition, certain circumstances can aggravate these offenses, increase penalties, or lead to additional criminal charges. The type of substance involved can also have a substantial impact on the penalties someone may face. For instance, in New York, marijuana is not treated as a “controlled substance” and possession and sale of this illegal substance is governed under separate laws from those that control other drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
Different Degrees of Drug Possession
Criminal possession of a controlled substance is an offense with varying degrees of severity. Seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance, sometimes referred to as “simple possession,” is defined by New York Penal Law §220.03 and is considered a Class A misdemeanor. Penalties for this offense include up to one year of imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000.
Possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree (New York Penal Law §220.06) is a more serious crime, involving possession with intent to sell or possession a sufficient quantity that the law presumes an intent to sell. As a Class D felony, fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance is punishable by up to probation or imprisonment of up to seven years. Those convicted may also be required to pay a fine of $5,000 or twice the amount gained from any transaction.
If the substance in question belongs to a certain category such as narcotics, or the quantity is greater, the crime may escalate to possession in the fourth, third, second or first degree. These are serious felony offenses ranging from Class C all the way up to Class A-1.
Maximum prison sentences range from up to 15 years for possession in the fourth degree up to 20 years for possession in the first degree. Potential fines range from $15,000 to $100,000. A lawyer in the Bronx could help someone prepare for the legal process depending on the type of drug crime they are facing.
New York Marijuana Laws
Although lawmakers in New York have “decriminalized” possession of small amounts of marijuana, possession of any quantity is still against the law. Those found in possession of 25 grams or less may still be found guilty of a criminal violation and be required to pay a fine of $100 to $250. In addition, anyone who violates this law three or more times may face incarceration for up to 15 days.
As with controlled substances, those in possession of larger quantities or anyone convicted of selling marijuana may be found guilty of a misdemeanor or felony, and the severity of the offense will depend on the quantity of marijuana at issue.
When Can Police Officers Search for Drugs in the Bronx?
Every person has a right to privacy. This prevents police officers from searching their bodies or homes without reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred. As a result, officers cannot perform random searches on the street. Officers must have another reason to search a person for illegal substances.
Similar concepts apply to a person’s home. Police officers must have reasonable suspicion that they will find evidence of a crime on the property and apply for a search warrant. If a drug search occurs without proper cause, a Bronx lawyer may be able to contest the legality of the search in court.
What Do the Charges Look Like for Selling Drugs?
The sale of even the smallest amount of an illegal substance is a class D felony. Convictions here can result in a prison sentence of up to seven years. Much like in the possession laws, the type of drug and the amount involved in the alleged sale impact the penalties someone may face. A Bronx attorney could help people facing accusations of selling illegal drugs by preparing a case in their defense.
It is rare for a police officer to personally witness the sale of illegal drugs. Instead, officers may rely on the testimony of confidential informants to gain information that allows them to obtain search warrants. These informants are notoriously unreliable and may only perform their jobs under threats or promises from police. In addition, police officers do not always execute search warrants according to the letter of the law. This may allow a lawyer to argue in court that the evidence gathered as the result of a search warrant is inadmissible at trial.
Contacting a Bronx Drug Attorney
Even a so-called minor violation of New York Penal Law can leave a lasting impact on your criminal record. If you are facing charges of possession, sale, or another offense related to controlled substances or marijuana, talk to a knowledgeable Bronx drug lawyer who could explain your options for fighting charges. Call now to schedule a consultation and learn how we could put our experience to work for you.