INSIGHTS

Home > Insights > What is Possession of a Controlled Substance?

What is Possession of a Controlled Substance?

by | May 31, 2023

Possession of a controlled substance is a serious crime in New York that can come with severe consequences. Many of these offenses are charged as felonies and can come with a lengthy prison term, steep fines, and long-term ramifications. Not only can a conviction affect your reputation and standing in the community, but it can also have a lasting financial impact on your life. If you’ve been accused of possessing a controlled substance, it’s essential to have the representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can fight the charges against you.    

What is Possession of a Controlled Substance in New York?

Not only are drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and marijuana defined as “controlled substances” in New York — the compounds used to manufacture them are also classified as such. But regardless of the drug at issue, in order for a jury to find you guilty of the offense possession of a controlled substance, the prosecution must first establish certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt. 

The prosecution must be able to show that the substance was, in fact, a controlled substance. They must also prove that you had possession of the drug. In other words, you must have had actual physical possession or could have exercised dominion or control over it. Lastly, the prosecution must demonstrate that you knowingly possessed the drug, in that you were aware of the possession. In addition, the possession must have been unlawful.

Possession of a controlled substance can mean either actual physical possession or “constructive” possession. When possession is constructive, it means that the defendant had control over the location where the drugs were discovered, or the person on whom they were found. A defendant’s physical presence is not required for constructive possession.      

What is the Penalty for Drug Possession? 

The penalty imposed under New York State law for drug possession can vary, based on the type of controlled substance and the amount. However, the minimum charge in these cases is criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, which is a Class A misdemeanor that comes with a prison sentence up to one year.  

Depending on the facts and circumstances, other drug possession charges can include the following:

  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree — A person can be found guilty of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree when they knowingly and unlawfully possess eight ounces or more of a mixture or substances containing a narcotic. This is a Class A-1 felony that can come with a sentence of eight to 20 years in jail for a first-time offender, and a $100,000 fine.
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the second degree — To be found guilty of this crime, the prosecution must establish the defendant knowingly and unlawfully possessed four or more ounces of a controlled substance. This is a Class A-2 felony that can carry a sentence of three to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine for a first-time offender. 
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree — A defendant can be found guilty of this crime if it is proven that they possessed a narcotic drug with the intent to sell it. This is a Class B felony punishable by one to nine years in prison and a $30,000 fine.
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree — This is a Class C felony that can be imposed when a defendant has been found to possess a narcotic drug in the amount of one-eighth of an ounce or more. A conviction can come with a sentence of one to five and a half years in jail and a $15,000 fine. 
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree — This is a Class D felony, punishable by one to two and a half years in prison and a $5,000 fine. 

Repeat offenders can face enhanced penalties and longer jail sentences than those listed above can be imposed. If you have been charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, it’s crucial to have an experienced criminal defense attorney who can assess your case and develop a solid defense strategy. They may also be able to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution to reduce the charges against you.

Contact an Experienced New York Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’ve been accused of possession of a controlled substance, it’s critical to have a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to guide you through the legal process and advocate for your rights. The attorneys at D’Emilia Law offer high-quality legal representation for those who have been charged with a wide variety of drug crimes and work to obtain the best possible results for every client. To schedule a consultation, contact us at 1-888-DEMILIA.  

Drugged Driving

What is Drugged Driving in New York?

Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol isn’t the only impaired driving offense that can lead to an arrest. Critically, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and illegal substances can all affect a person’s ability to drive. Drugged driving can...
Arraignment

What is an Arraignment?

If you have been arrested for a crime, the first time you will appear in court is at a proceeding called an arraignment. The purpose of the arraignment is for the judge to read the charges against you and find out how you intend to plea. You will also be told what...
DWI

What are the Stages of a DWI Case in New York?

A charge of driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol is a serious matter in New York. If you’ve been accused of a DWI, you may be feeling stressed and overwhelmed — and it’s important to understand what to expect. Although the facts of every case are different,...
Hardship License

Can I Qualify for a Hardship License After Getting a DWI?

Loss of your license after a drug or alcohol DWI can have a negative impact on your life and livelihood — it can affect your ability to drive to school, travel to work, and carry out your daily errands. In limited situations, you may be eligible for a hardship license...
Aggravated DWI

What is an Aggravated DWI in New York?

A DWI of any kind is a serious matter that can result in harsh penalties, including monetary fines, a jail sentence, and license revocation. However, every DWI case is different — and the consequences can be even more severe if you have been convicted of an aggravated...
Criminal Case

What is a Bench Trial in a Criminal Case?

Most people are familiar with jury trials and know that a defendant has the Constitutional right to be tried by a jury of their peers in a serious criminal case. But a jury trial isn’t always the only option. If you’ve been charged with a felony or certain...
DWI

Penalties for Multiple DWI Offenses

A DWI is a serious matter — and the repercussions for multiple offenses can be much more severe. While a first-time DWI conviction is generally classified as a misdemeanor in New York State, a second offense within ten years constitutes a felony. If you’ve been...
DWI Arrest

Common Mistakes to Avoid During a DWI Arrest

Being pulled over for drinking and driving can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. A DWI can not only result in monetary fines and jail time, but it can also lead to personal, professional, and financial ramifications. Critically, any mistakes you make during...
Dispensary license violation attorney

Four Important Things to Know About New York’s Marijuana Laws

As the legal landscape regarding marijuana laws continues to shift, New York became the 16th state to legalize cannabis in 2021. However, there are still certain restrictions in place and it’s important to understand these laws to avoid incurring criminal penalties....
Chemical Test

What are the Consequences of Refusing a Chemical Test?

Under New York’s Implied Consent law, all drivers agree to submit to a chemical test if they are pulled over on reasonable suspicion of drunk driving. These tests are used by law enforcement to determine the level of alcohol in the blood. While the most common...