Westchester County Drug Distribution Lawyer
Rather than possessing small amounts of illicit drugs primarily for personal usage, drug distribution charges occur when there are larger quantities of drugs, as well as paraphernalia or supplies typically used when selling drugs. As the consequences of this offense can severe, it is essential to consult a Westchester drug distribution lawyer for legal guidance.
Aside from the potential for lengthy prison sentences and thousands of dollars in fines, a permanent record of a felony drug conviction can have a damaging effect on your personal life and professional development. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can assess your case and work toward a positive resolution for your specific circumstances.
What Controlled Substances are Commonly Involved in Distribution Cases?
A distribution case could involve any controlled substance outlawed by federal law. Typically, these offenses involve the distribution of illegal narcotics like cocaine or methamphetamine. However, this offense also frequently involves the distribution of substances that are legal with a prescription, including opioids. No matter the substance involved, a drug distribution attorney could work tirelessly to develop a strong defense strategy.
Drug Distribution Offenses in Westchester
There are six different drug distribution offenses under New York law, ranging in severity from a Class D felony to a Class A-1 felony. The type of drug and the amount of the drugs involved in the offense determine the level of the charges.
The least serious drug distribution offense is the criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, which involves knowingly selling a controlled substance. This offense is a Class D felony under New York Penal Code § 220.31 and can result in a maximum prison sentence of seven years. This is a “catch-all” offense when drugs involved do not fall into any of the higher degrees of the offenses.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, as defined in New York Penal Code § 220.43. This offense involves the purchase of one or more substances containing narcotic drugs with an aggregate weight of two ounces or more, as well as 2,880 milligrams or more of methadone. This is a Class A-1 felony, which carries a potential punishment of life in prison.
Enhancements to Charges
Certain circumstances can enhance drug distribution crimes. For example, New York Penal Code § 220.44 governs the criminal sale of controlled substances in or near school grounds. Possessing certain amounts of illicit drugs on school grounds, on school buses, on the grounds of daycare or other educational facilities, or in public areas within 1,000 feet of these locations is a Class B felony.
Likewise, according to New York Penal Code § 220.48, the criminal sale of a controlled substance to a child occurs when an adult over the age of 21 knowingly sell a controlled substance to a child who is under 17 years old. This offense also is a Class B felony under New York law. Since the penalties for any drug distribution offenses can be exceedingly severe, anyone facing such charges should contact a drug distribution lawyer in Westchester for advice.
Operating as a Major Drug Trafficker
The most severe drug distribution offense is defined under New York Penal Code § 220.77 as operating as a major trafficker. This offense occurs when someone acts as the director of a controlled substance organization that sells controlled substances in exchange for aggregate profits of $75,000 or more in 12 or fewer months. Other situations that also qualify as operating as a major trafficker include:
- Knowingly selling a narcotic drug within six months or less in exchange for aggregate profits of $75,000 or more
- Knowingly possessing with the intent to sell narcotic drugs with an aggregate value of $75,000 within six months or less
This offense is a Class A-1 felony under New York law. As this offense potentially can result in a life prison sentence, it is critical to work with a Westchester drug distribution attorney to fight them.
What are the Collateral Consequences of a Drug Distribution Conviction?
There are many collateral consequences that could result from drug distribution convictions. Unlike penalties like prison time or fines that are written into the law, collateral consequences are indirectly related to the conviction.
Given that drug distribution is a felony, a conviction can impact a person’s constitutional rights in significant ways. Specifically, a distribution conviction will result in the loss of the right to vote or own a firearm.
A conviction could also severely impact the defendant’s future employment prospects. For example, many employers will refuse to hire a person with a drug distribution conviction on their record. Additionally, these convictions could result in the loss of a professional license, such as a nursing or real estate license. Other collateral consequences could involve challenges obtaining adequate housing, issues with immigration, or difficulties during child custody cases.
Can the Police Use Evidence Obtained Illegally in a Distribution Case?
Thanks to Fourth Amendment rights, the government is barred from using any evidence that is obtained illegally. This means that any evidence obtained during an unlawful search or seizure could be excluded at trial.
Drug distribution cases frequently involve searches of a suspect’s home, vehicle, or person. The police must have a valid reason to conduct a search, such as consent, a warrant, or exigent circumstances. Without a valid reason, any evidence they collect should be barred by the court. A knowledgeable attorney in Westchester County could help a defendant determine if any part of the drug distribution investigation was unconstitutional.
Work with a Westchester Drug Distribution Attorney
Drug distribution charges carry the potential for harsh penalties, including lengthy prison sentences, high fines, and other long-lasting effects. A Westchester drug distribution lawyer could help build a strong defense to the charges against you. Having strong defense counsel on your side may enable you to safeguard your freedom and move on with your life. Call today to get started.