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7th Degree Drug Charges in New York City

Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance (CPCS) in the Seventh Degree is a violation of New York Penal Law §220.03 and is the lowest level offense chargeable for the unlawful possession of any controlled or banned substance under state law (except marijuana, the possession of which is a separate crime). Classified as an A misdemeanor, this crime can be charged whenever police recover any amount (including residue) of any one of specifically named controlled substances under Section 3306 of New York’s Public Health Law. While there is no weight requirement for Seventh Degree drug charges in New York City, individuals found with certain threshold amounts of controlled or banned substances may trigger an upgrade of the offense to a D felony or higher.

Some of the substances more commonly subjected to criminal prosecution for Seventh Degree Criminal Possession include (1) the recreational drugs of cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and ecstasy; (2) painkiller medications such as Oxycodone, Vicodin or Percocet and (3) hallucinogens like psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline and LSD. Regardless of what drug is actually charged by prosecutors for this offense, however, the ramifications of conviction remain the same: up to a year in jail and all the attending collateral consequences of a drug conviction.

What Are the Potential Ramifications of a 7th Degree Drug Conviction?

A violation of state law concerning criminal possession of a controlled substance in the 7th degree is categorized as a Class A misdemeanor in New York City. Although the ramifications of a Class A misdemeanor conviction are less grave than for a drug-related offense charged as a felony, the penalties can still be harsh to deal with. In addition to the prospect of spending up to 12 months in confinement if the court enters a conviction, an accused individual may have to pay a significant financial penalty. The amount of the fine imposed is at the court’s discretion but could be as high as $1,000.

Will a Controlled Substance Conviction Mean a Permanent Criminal Record?

Even for the conviction of a seemingly lower-level Class A misdemeanor offense, one of the many outcomes of a conviction is a criminal record. Certain drug charges can be sealed after a time; however, state law imposes a specific waiting period before someone can move to have their criminal record sealed. The individual must go an entire decade at minimum without any criminal convictions, and only then can they take steps to get their record made inaccessible to the public. This waiting period in which the person’s criminal record would be apparent to the public could impact many areas of their life, from their ability to rent an apartment to seeking certain forms of gainful employment, in addition to the social stigma attached.

Building a Defense with an Attorney

Avoiding both the immediate and collateral consequences of a New York drug conviction is possible, but it requires the development of a comprehensive strategy to reduce or dismiss the charges early in the proceedings. For example, if there is reason to believe police acted improperly during a search or if there was no physical possession of the drugs, an attorney should give notice to the court. A defense lawyer may claim that grounds exist to contest the lawfulness of the search and probable cause for arrest at a pre-trial hearing. One potential caveat is when the individual has been prescribed a substance and has it on their person due to medical need. This may be one of several potential defenses an attorney could explore in cases involving 7th-degree drug charges.

On the other hand, if the goal is to negotiate a non-criminal disposition or an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD), a different strategy must be taken. The only way to ensure a drug offense is resolved with as little collateral damage as possible to one’s livelihood, career and, for noncitizens, immigration status is to consult with top criminal defense attorneys to prepare an appropriate defense strategy as soon as possible after arrest.

Retain a New York City Attorney for Help Dealing with 7th Degree Drug Charges

If you have been arrested or ticketed for a Seventh Degree CPCS – whether for possessing a clear type of contraband or a prescription medication – strongly consider the question of who will be your representative when dealing with the state. Our criminal defense attorneys have worked with countless individuals to favorably and expeditiously resolve their state drug possession case while minimizing the collateral consequences that typically accompany a drug arrest or conviction. Acutely aware of the many obstacles to employment and education set upon those with a public record of a drug conviction, our experienced criminal defense attorneys routinely craft a defense strategy that preserves both present and future interests in cases involving Seventh Degree Drug Charges in New York City.

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