Charges for drug possession in New York are a complicated matter. While some charges result in a fine or fee, others carry weightier penalties like jail time. Determining where your situation falls depends on various circumstances of the charge, but the main factor is what you are in possession of when law enforcement makes the discovery. In New York, there are different repercussions for controlled substances versus other drug-related substances. The following conditions come into play in determining jail time if convicted.
Definition of a controlled substance
Part of the courts’ responsibility is to prove that, beyond a reasonable doubt, you were in possession of a controlled substance. According to New York Penal Codes, controlled substances include the following:
- Narcotic drugs or narcotic preparation
- Hallucinogens or hallucinogenic substances
- Depressants or dangerous depressants
Other considerations used in the prosecution of drug possession charges include whether the defendant was both knowingly in possession of the controlled substance and that possession was not within the law.
Classes of charges
Charges for drug possession are either a misdemeanor or felony depending upon the amount of the controlled substance that was allegedly in the person’s possession. The State of New York defines the breakdown of each controlled substance, the quantity of said drugs required for a charge, the minimum and maximum fines, and possible jail time. Possession with intent to distribute carries heavier penalties, so the possession of a large amount of a controlled substance could mean additional charges.
Every case and situation are unique, but the general classes of charges include the following:
- The possession of a controlled substance is considered a Class A misdemeanor, with up to 1 year in prison and fines of up to $1,000.
- The possession of large amounts of a controlled substance carries either a Class D, C, B, A-II, or A-I felony charge. The penalties for these charges range from one to two and a half years in prison to as much time as 8 to twenty years, with fines ranging from $1,000 to $100,000.
Despite the jail time and fines associated with the different classes of misdemeanor and felony drug possession charges, the court must prove that the defendant knowingly possessed the controlled substance and broke the law.
Unless the courts prove beyond a reasonable doubt the type of drug possession and the amount allegedly in possession, they may not have a solid case. Furthermore, should the prosecution prove those conditions, the judge is still responsible for levying a sentence that depends upon factors like a prior history of convictions. For these reasons, assessing the risk of jail time for possession of an illegal drug is not always straightforward.