How Is A Drug Charge Determined To Be Either a Misdemeanor Or A Felony?
There are two primary categories of drug felonies in New York. The first is sales charges. When somebody is accused of selling drugs, either to an undercover police officer or to another citizen, they can be charged with felonies as a result of that sale. The second major category of drug felony charges is weight charges. Depending on the amount of drugs that somebody has on them at the time that they are arrested, they can be charged with a felony. There is a certain weight of drugs that one must have on them in order to be charged with a felony in the weight category. In terms of misdemeanors, basically any drug charge that doesn’t fall into one of these two categories for a felony, is charged as a misdemeanor in New York. Our Westchester criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience in handling both drug sale and drug possession charges in the Westchester County Court located in White Plains, as well as the City and town Courts of Yonkers, New Rochelle, White Plains, Port Chester, Rye, Scarsdale, Bronxville, Mamaroneck, Mount Vernon, Greenburgh, Mount Kisco, Yorktown, Armonk and Elmsford.
If somebody is walking down the street with a small amount of drugs on them, and they are arrested, they will likely be charged with a misdemeanor. If they have a large amount of drugs on them, whether it’s individually packaged drugs or drugs that are packaged in one big bulk, then they may be charged as a felony under the weight category, which is a presumption that they intended to sell the drug. Additionally, if an officer observes an individual engaging in what the officer believes to be a drug sale, then the officer can arrest that individual for a felony drug sale.
What Is Considered As Possession, Sale And Distribution Of Drugs Under New York Law?
There are two types of possession, actual possession and constructive possession. Actual possession is when the alleged narcotics or drugs are found on the individual’s body or their person, such as in their hands, their purse, or in their pocket. The second category for possession cases are what’s called constructive possession, which is where drugs are found in a car, or found within somebody’s home, where they might not necessarily be on the person’s body, but in an area that the person has custody and control over.
Sale is exactly what people think of. It is when somebody provides narcotics, or another type of illegal substance, to another person, usually in exchange for money. Under New York law, such sales do not require the exchange of money for the narcotics. Simply handing the narcotics to somebody can be considered a sale, but in the vast majority of sale cases it is the exchange of narcotics for money. Distribution is just another word for a sale. It typically is connected with larger scale operations, rather than somebody who is merely selling a bag or two on the street corner. Often, you’ll see this terminology is used in long-term investigations into a criminal organization.
Intent to distribute charges, or intent to sell, are typically something that you see when somebody is also charged with a felony weight charge. The second category of felony drug charges is when you have a certain amount of drugs on you. That is typically what the intent to distribute qualifies as, because the law infers that the individual who has such a large amount of drugs on them is planning on selling them.
What Are The Penalties Associated With Drug Charge Convictions In New York?
The penalties associated with drug charge convictions will largely depend upon what you are charged with. If somebody is accused of selling a significant amount of narcotics, they could be facing a mandatory incarceration sentence that could be as high as 15 years. If you are charged with merely possessing a few bags of narcotics, you could be looking at a fine. The levels of punishments and penalties can vary greatly, depending on whether you are facing felony or misdemeanor charges, as well as the level of felony that you are accused of committing. Our Westchester criminal defense lawyers who handle drug cases have also negotiated a lot of probationary sentences with drug cases. Our White Plains criminal defense lawyers have also been active in seeking to get our clients into the diversionary programs that are utilized, as an alternative to incarceration.
There is a program called CAT, which is a drug treatment alternative program that’s utilized frequently with drug offenses. The goal is to help the offender rehabilitate, rather than face jail time for a drug offense. This is a very typical result for a felony drug case. At a misdemeanor drug case, you could see something like probation, a fine, community service or some sort of social services, where individuals would be exposed to treatment options and then they would have the ability to elect to go and engage in those programs, or any combination thereof. There is a vast range of penalties for drug offenses in New York State.
It also largely depends on where the case is being prosecuted. Cases in New York City—Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens—typically engage in programs assigned to getting drug offenders treatment. That is the preferred route that those offices take. In Westchester, there is also an emphasis towards rehabilitation as well. Alternative programs are a great opportunity for an individual to engage in a treatment program that has been very successful, and we’ve seen many people come out the other side and are very grateful for the opportunities. Sometimes, you can have your charges even potentially dismissed as a result of successfully completing tasks. I’ve seen that in the Bronx on a number of occasions, and know it happened in other jurisdictions throughout New York City, where individuals who successfully complete treatment can potentially have a significantly reduced conviction, or a potential dismissal if they really take advantage of the option that they are given.
Read on to find out about Drug Cases In New York. Call the law offices of Michael H. Joseph, PLLC for a FREE Initial Consultation at (914) 574-8330 and get the information and legal answers you are seeking.