Rockland County Drug Possession Lawyer
Many states have taken steps towards changing the language of and the extent that they prosecute their drug laws. In the State of New York, the simple possession of small amounts of marijuana in private is not a crime. However, police may arrest any person they find in possession of any amount of any other illegal drug.
The severity of these charges depends on both the amount of the drug and its identity. The resulting penalties may range from simple misdemeanors to high-level felonies. Any of these convictions may result in a person being sent to jail and ordered to pay heavy fines. Because of this, it is vital that anyone charged with drug possession takes steps to protect themselves. A Rockland County drug possession lawyer can provide this important protection. Those who have been charged with drug possession should speak with a determined drug attorney that could fight for them.
What Are New York’s Laws Concerning Drug Possession?
All of New York’s drug laws are contained in Article 220 of the New York Penal Law. This article outlines not just the potential penalties for illegal drug possession, but also those for drug distribution and manufacturing. The simplest illegal act involving drugs is illegal possession.
Specifically, New York Penal Law §220.03 states that it is illegal for any person to possess a controlled substance. This is called criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. Any person facing this charge is facing a class A misdemeanor meaning a conviction could result in a jail term of no more than one year. However, the law provides for enhanced penalties depending upon the type and amount of drug that is found.
For example, New York Penal Law §220.06 increases the penalties for any person in possession of 500 milligrams of cocaine or more. This is known as criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth-degree. According to the statute, this violation is a class D felony.
The most severe versions of drug possession offenses involve the possession of a quantity of narcotics weighing eight ounces or more. According to New York Penal Law §220.21 this is treated as a class A-1 felony. It is important to note that the person’s reason for possessing the drugs may be irrelevant. Someone charged under this statute may not be able to argue that the drugs are for personal use and would-be sellers may be treated the same as mere possessors.
What the Prosecution Needs to Prove
In drug possession cases, the prosecution must prove the chemical composition of the alleged illegal substances and prove that the defendant knowingly possessed the drugs.
The concept of knowingly possessing a drug comes up often in these cases. Sometimes, a defendant may be used as an unwilling carrier for these items. In these situations, they either do not know that what they have is an illegal drug or they may be forced to carry it by traffickers.
A Rockland County drug possession lawyer could help examine the facts in the prosecution’s case and form an aggressive defense tailored to their specific circumstances.
What Evidence is Common in Drug Possession Cases?
There are various types of evidence that could be used in a drug possession trial. In most cases, a possession charge will involve an arrest by an officer that discovers a controlled substance on the defendant’s person or in their vehicle. This often occurs during an arrest for a different charge.
In some cases, video evidence could also be available. If there is police dashboard camera footage of the arrest, it might show the moment where the officer discovers the controlled substance. Lab test results are also common, as the state must establish that the substance in question is actually an illegal drug.
Do I Have to Let Police Search My Car for Drugs?
If the police initiate a traffic stop in Rockland County, they do not have free reign to search the vehicle on a whim. Even if they suspect the driver is in possession of a controlled substance, that is not enough to allow for a search against the wishes of the vehicle owner. For that reason, many police ask for permission to search a vehicle during a traffic stop.
There are some grounds that will allow the police to search a vehicle without permission. For instance, they may not need permission if they have a search warrant or if a controlled substance is visible from the exterior of the vehicle. An officer will also have the right to search the vehicle following an arrest for an unrelated charge.
Is Expungement Possible for Drug Possession Convictions?
In many cases, a criminal record could be sealed following a drug possession conviction. In fact, the state has automatically sealed many possession convictions involving marijuana. However, a sealed record is only possible if ten years have passed since the conviction and the individual is not currently facing other charges. This process is never guaranteed to succeed, as the prosecutor in the case has the right to object to the sealing of a drug conviction.
Reaching Out to a Rockland County Drug Possession Attorney
People facing illegal drug possession charges may be surprised to find that they are facing charges for having only a trace amount of a drug for their personal use. But having even a small amount of many drugs is still a felony level offense.
A Rockland County drug possession lawyer could help fight back against these charges. The sooner a person consults with an attorney, the better chance they have for a successful outcome. Call a lawyer today to discuss your case and learn how an experienced attorney may benefit you.