How Are Drug Possession Charges Different From Marijuana Charges?

Last updated on June 15, 2021

New York separates drug possession into two categories: possession of “controlled substances” and possession of marijuana offenses. Essentially, marijuana is in one category and all other illegal drugs are in the other. There are many similarities in how possession of marijuana and how possession of a controlled substance are charged and how an attorney defends a client against those charges. For both possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana, the charges are more serious and carry longer possible sentences when the circumstances of the possession demonstrate an intent to sell. A major difference between the two, however, is that in most instances the possible penalties for marijuana possession are less severe than for possession of controlled substances.

What Are The Penalties For Possession Of Drugs In Suffolk County, Nassau County & New York City?

The penalties for drug possession in Suffolk County, Nassau County, and New York City are based upon the type of drug (marijuana or a controlled substance), the amount of the drug, whether or not the circumstances of the possession show an intent to sell the drug, and whether the person charged has prior criminal convictions. For the possession of a relatively small amount of drugs, a person will most likely be charged with a violation or a misdemeanor. For a violation or misdemeanor drug possession as a first offense, the penalties can include modest fines or community service (the charges themselves can even sometimes be subject to dismissal after an adjournment of six months or a year.

What Are Some Possible Defenses To Drug Possession Charges?

One defense is that, when drugs are found in a person’s home or car, the person was not aware the drugs were present and thus did not knowingly possess the drugs. Sometimes one can show that they had a valid prescription for the controlled substance found in their possession. If drugs are found as the result of a search by the police, another defense can be to challenge the legality of the search by establishing that the police did not have probable cause to search the person or place. If the police had a search warrant, the evidence can be suppressed if the search warrant can be shown to have been legally insufficient or based on false information. There is a defense known as “entrapment,” which is essentially that the police induced someone to participate in a drug-related crime using methods that created a substantial risk that a criminal offense would be committed by someone not otherwise disposed to do so. “Agency” is a defense against possession with the intent to sell (or a sale itself), and it boils down to establishing that the defendant was not looking to sell drugs but trying to buy them for someone else.

For more information on Drug Possession Charges In New York, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (631) 259-6060 today.

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