Criminal Sale of Controlled Substances in New York City
Drug offenses, both possession and sale, account for a significant volume of criminal cases in the state’s court system. While the NYPD and District Attorney’s Offices have recently shown a slightly more moderate approach toward drug possession cases, they still seriously prosecute drug sellers and dealers.
Simply put, New York penal law§§ 220.31, et seq defines “selling” as exchanging, giving, or disposing of something to another, or even to offer or agree to do the same. It is important to note that under the law in New York, an agreement to sell is considered the same thing as selling. Generally, the exchange involves money, but a prosecutor is not required to demonstrate that money was involved in the sale.
Every level of offense relating to the criminal sale of controlled substances in New York City begins the same way, “A person is guilty of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the [Nth] degree when he knowingly and unlawfully sells…” From there, the prosecutor looks at two main factors to determine the severity of the offense, the type of drug sold, and the weight of the drug sold.
Criminal Classifications for the Sale of Drugs in New York City
There are five degrees of this offense. The lowest level, Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance, in the Fifth Degree, is a D felony, and can be charged when a person knowingly and unlawfully sells any controlled substance. This could be as little one prescription pill or a single dose of cocaine. It is important to note that marijuana is not a controlled substance in New York. The maximum penalty for this offense in the Fifth Degree is two and a half years in prison.
Penalties for Selling Controlled Substances
The penalties for selling controlled substances in New York City can be extremely harsh, even for first-time offenders, depending on the aggregate weight of the drugs or the type of narcotic sold. A person can be convicted of this offense in the First Degree if they sell any narcotic with a weight of two ounces or more, or this person sells methadone with a weight of 2,880 mg or more. This is an A-1 felony, and the maximum penalty is 20 years in prison, regardless of criminal history.
Because these cases tend to be based on either undercover detectives or the observations of police officers, prosecutors are typically confident when filing these types of charges. However, this does not mean that strong defenses are not available. Issues with searches and seizures, improper chain of custody of recovered contraband, misidentification, and many other defenses may be applicable depending on the circumstances. When faced with an aggressive cross-examination of their witnesses, exposing the weaknesses in their case, prosecutors may offer a generous deal rather than risk losing at trial.
Contact a New York City Defense Attorney for Help with Charges for the Criminal Sale of Drugs
The penalties for the criminal sale of controlled substances in New York City can be severe, so if you have been charged with this offense, it is critical that you retain an attorney with real experience who can fight to protect your rights and your liberty.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman have successfully defended countless people charged with selling controlled substances and are intimately familiar with the issues surrounding these cases. Call our office today for a free case evaluation.