Criminal Possession of Controlled Substance

NEW YORK PENAL LAW ARTICLE 220 – CRIMINAL POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE (CPCS)

As all top New York drug possession lawyers know, New York State has a long history prosecuting individuals for the possession of narcotics and other controlled substances. The Rockefeller Drug Laws, the eponymous crime bill of former Governor Nelson D. Rockefeller, were the first to impose mandatory minimum prison sentences on the basis of drug quantity and remained in effect for decades as some of the harshest sentencing laws in the country. While many of the Rockefeller Law’s mandatory minimum sentence provisions have since been repealed, its legacy of strict enforcement of drug laws by New York City police and prosecutors continues to this day.

If you have been arrested for the possession of cocaine in Manhattan or prescription pills in Long Island, you are exposed, at minimum, to an A misdemeanor offense of Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance (CPCS). If, however, weight or intent to sell becomes an issue, possession that could be considered a misdemeanor or petty offense can quickly be ratcheted up to a felony CPCS offense by local prosecutors. Regardless of the charge, the potential penalties for either a felony or misdemeanor CPCS offense are severe: a period of incarceration and the stigma of a New York drug conviction. Make sure your defense is handled properly by one the best New York criminal defense attorneys with years of experience contesting drug possession charges in all courts of New York State.

Type of Criminal Possession of Controlled Substance Cases

New York’s Penal Law subdivides CPCS offenses by degrees according to weight or drug quantity and whether possession was accompanied by any actual or implied intent to sell. The drugs covered by these offenses include all controlled substances and narcotics listed under New York Public Health Law § 3306, the sole exception being marijuana for which possession and sale are listed as separate offenses under Article 221 of the Penal Law. A brief overview of New York’s CPCS offenses – of which there are six – follows.

CPCS in the Seventh Degree – New York Penal Law § 220.03

Offense Level: Class A Misdemeanor.

Most Commonly Charged For:

  • The knowing and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, not including marijuana.

Incarceration Exposure: Up to 1 year in jail.

To learn more about Seventh Degree CPCS, a more in-depth article about the offense including how a top New York drug possession defense lawyer may defend its charge, look here.

CPCS in the Fifth Degree – New York Penal Law § 220.05

Offense Level: Class D Felony.

Most Commonly Charged For:

  • Knowing and unlawful possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell;
  • Knowing possession of a ½ gram or more of pure cocaine, excluding the weight of any diluting or cutting agents found therein.

Incarceration Exposure: Determinate sentence of anywhere from 1 year in jail to 2 ½ years in state prison.

To learn more about Fifth Degree CPCS, specifically how prosecutors attempt to prove the often disputed aggravating element of intent to sell, a more in-depth article may be found here.

CPCS in the Fourth Degree – New York Penal Law § 220.09

Offense Level: Class C Felony.

Most Commonly Charged For:

  • Knowing possession of cocaine, heroin or any other narcotic drug of an aggregate weight of 1/8 ounce or more, regardless of purity.

Incarceration Exposure: Determinate sentence of anywhere from 1 year in jail to 5 ½ years in state prison.

CPCS in the Third Degree – New York Penal Law § 220.16

Offense Level: Class B Felony.

Most Commonly Charged For:

  • Knowing possession of cocaine, heroin or any other narcotic drug with the intent to sell;
  • Knowing possession of cocaine, heroin or any other narcotic drug of an aggregate weight of ½ ounce or more, regardless of purity.

Incarceration Exposure: Determinate sentence of anywhere between 1 year in jail to 9 years in state prison.

To learn more about Third Degree CPCS, including potential defenses to the charge and the consequences of a conviction, a more in-depth article may be found here.

CPCS in the Second Degree – New York Penal Law § 220.18

Offense Level: A-II Felony.

Most Commonly Charged For:

  • Knowing possession of cocaine, heroin or any other narcotic drug of an aggregate weight of 4 ounces or more, regardless of purity.

Incarceration Exposure: Determinate sentence of anywhere from 3 to 10 years in state prison.

CPCS in the First Degree – New York Penal Law § 220.21

Offense Level: A-I Felony.

Most Commonly Charged For:

  • Knowing possession of cocaine, heroin or any other narcotic drug of an aggregate weight of 8 ounces or more, regardless of purity level.

Incarceration Exposure: Determinate sentence of anywhere from 8 to 20 years in state prison.

For more information on New York’s controlled substance offenses, including how a drug conviction can impact both career and educational prospects, the significance of search and seizure issues in the defense of a drug case and the law of possession in New York, additional passages written by one of our New York drug possession lawyers may be found below. Call us at (212) 581-1001 if you’d like to schedule a consultation with the attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman.