News

An Overview of New York Drug Possession Felonies

  • Feb 1 2018

In New York, in order for one to be convicted of criminal possession of a controlled substance (CPCS), prosecutors must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The substance at issue was a controlled substance;
  2. The defendant actually possessed the substance;
  3. The defendant possessed the substance knowingly; and
  4. Such possession was unlawful.

In addition, a defendant’s possession of an illegal substance can be either physical or “constructive.” Constructive possession is a legal term of art that indicates a defendant had control over the person or place where the drugs were found. Therefore, constructive possession of an illegal substance can be proved even if the defendant was not physically present when the drugs were discovered.

Offense Levels

In New York, drug possession laws are classified as follows:

  • CPCS in the first degree: CPCS in the first degree is classified as a class A-1 felony, and conviction carries a possible sentence of anywhere from eight to 20 years in state prison. Examples of A-1 felonies include possession of cocaine, heroin, or any other narcotic drug of an aggregate weight of eight ounces or more.
  • CPCS in the second degree: CPCS in the second degree is classified as a class A-2 felony, and conviction carries a possible sentence anywhere from three to 10 years in state prison. Examples of A-2 felonies include possession of cocaine, heroin, or any other narcotic drug of an aggregate weight of four ounces or more.
  • CPCS in the third degree: CPCS in the third degree is classified as a class B felony, and conviction carries a possible sentence of anywhere from one year in jail to nine years in state prison. Examples of class B felonies include possession of cocaine, heroin, or any other narcotic drug with the intent to sell.
  • CPCS in the fourth degree: CPCS in the fourth degree is classified as a class C felony, and conviction carries a possible sentence of anywhere from one year in jail to five and a half years in state prison. Examples of class C felonies include possession of cocaine, heroin, or any other narcotic drug of an aggregate weight of one eighth of an ounce or more.
  • CPCS in the fifth degree: CPCS in the fifth degree is classified as a class D felony, and conviction carries a possible sentence of anywhere from one year in jail to two and a half years in state prison. Examples of class D felonies include possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell and possession of a half gram or more of pure cocaine.

New York Legal Representation

If you’ve been charged with a drug offense in New York, it’s imperative that you engage the services of an experienced New York criminal defense attorney in order to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Please contact us for a free consultation.


Posted in: Criminal Defense, L.I.F.E. Group Blog

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