3rd Degree Drug Charges in New York City


In order to achieve a positive outcome for our clients charged with a New York drugs or narcotics offense, a top Manhattan criminal defense attorney will use their resources and years of experience to identify and exploit weakness in the prosecution’s case. Whether it is police report with inconsistent witness statements or an unconstitutional search and seizure, top New York criminal defense lawyers know where and when to push prosecutors towards a dismissal or, at least, bring them to the negotiating table to reduce even the most serious of drug offenses. While an acquittal or dismissal of a criminal case can never be guaranteed, the best chance for a favorable outcome to any felony Criminal Possession of Controlled Substance (CPCS) case is to retain counsel who can be trusted to represent both your present and future interests in criminal proceedings in the state.

While the possession of narcotics with the intent to sell is the most common basis for a Third Degree CPCS crime, it is not the only one available to prosecutors when charging this offense. Possession of certain specific amounts of other controlled substances, either with or without specific evidence of intent to sell, can also form the basis of a felony drug offense under New York Penal Law § 220.16.

Relevant Provisions of Article 220 of the New York Penal Law for the Offense of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 3rd Degree

“A person is guilty of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree when he or she knowingly and unlawfully possesses:

  1. a narcotic drug with intent to sell it;
  2. a stimulant, hallucinogen, hallucinogenic substance, or lysergic acid diethylamide, with intent to sell it and has previously been convicted of an offense defined in article two hundred twenty or the attempt or conspiracy to commit any such offense; or
  3. a stimulant with intent to sell it and said stimulant weighs one gram or more; or
  4. lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) with intent to sell it and said lysergic acid diethylamide weighs one milligram or more; or
  5. a hallucinogen with intent to sell it and said hallucinogen weighs twenty-five milligrams or more; or
  6. a hallucinogenic substance with intent to sell it and said hallucinogenic substance weighs one gram or more; or
  7. one or more preparations, compounds mixtures or substances containing methamphetamine, its salts, isomers or sales of isomers with intent to sell it and said preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of one-eight ounce or more; or
  8. a stimulant and said stimulant weighs five grams or more; or
  9. lysergic acid diethylamide and said lysergic acid diethylamide weighs five milligrams or more; or
  10. a hallucinogen and said hallucinogen weighs one hundred twenty-five milligrams or
  11. more;
  12. a hallucinogenic substance and said hallucinogenic substance weighs five grams or
  13. more; or
  14. one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing a narcotic
  15. drug and said preparations, compounds mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of one-half ounce or more; or
  16. Phencyclidine and said phencyclidine weighing one thousand two hundred fifty milligrams or more.”

NY Penal Law § 220.16

“‘Narcotic drug’ means any controlled substance listed in schedule I(b), I(c), II(b) or II(c) (of New York’s Public Health Law § 3306), other than methadone.”

NY Penal law § 220.00

The ramifications of a Third Degree CPCS conviction are harsh but commensurate to its offense level as a B felony (as a comparison, First Degree Manslaughter is also a B felony). While the state legislature and some District Attorney’s Offices have created avenues for leniency in the state system for those arrested and convicted for a drug offense as a result of addiction or drug dependent habits, the same rules do not generally apply to those alleged to profit off of the sale of addictive narcotics to others.

If you have been charged with the possession of a large quantity of controlled substances or the possession of narcotics with intent to sell, aggressive representation may be necessary as prosecutors are generally not amenable to a reduced plea to anything lower than the D felony offense of Fifth Degree CPCS. For many, the threat of years of incarceration and the attendant collateral consequences of a public New York felony drug conviction make this offer a non-starter. If it is, consider retaining top New York drug possession attorneys with the experience and resources to aggressively challenge the state’s case from the moment of your arrest up to and even after trial. We have handled such cases in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, Long Island and all over the country.

For more information on New York’s felony drug offenses, including the crucial element of intent to sell in Fifth Degree and Third Degree CPCS cases, additional passages written by top New York criminal defense attorneys may be found here.

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