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220.21 Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree

Under the New York Penal Code, the more you possess an illegal substance, the more serious the crime and penalties. The penalties are especially serious when you are charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree. This crime is highlighted under the New York Penal Code 220.21 and belongs to the category of class A-I felonies.

According to the penal code, you are guilty of criminal possession of a controlled substance if you are arrested with eight ounces or more of a narcotic drug or more than 5,769 milligrams of methadone. Unlike other penal codes, section 220.21 is very strict and may earn you a life sentence. However, the prosecutor must convince the judges that you indeed had eight ounces or more of narcotics or 5,769 milligrams of methadone to be convicted of a first-degree possession.

Example of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree

The police receive a phone call notifying them of a car carrying suspicious individuals. They immediately follow the car along 1st Avenue, Manhattan. While trailing the car, the driver quickly changes lanes without signaling. The police order the driver to pull over and immediately conduct a brief search on car. Upon conducting the search, they come across a package of heroin tapped on the driver’s seat. In this case, the driver of the car could face prosecution for criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree if the heroin weighs more than eight ounces.

Possible Penalties

Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree is a class A-I felony, meaning if you are convicted, you could be sentenced to life imprisonment. You could also get a fine up to $100,000. For these sentences to hold, the prosecutor must convince the judges beyond any reasonable doubts that you knowingly and unlawfully gained possession of a controlled substance. The substance could be one or more preparations or mixtures containing a narcotic drug weighing more than eight ounces or a methadone compound weighing more than 5,769 milligrams.

Possible Defense

If you are charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, you can challenge the charges imposed. For example, the substance you are caught with must weigh more than eight ounces for narcotics and 5,769 for methadone in order for the charges to hold. You can have a strong defense if you find that the weight of the narcotic or methadone you were caught with does not reach the limit highlighted by the penal code.

Another possible defense would be based on the methodology the police used to investigate, arrest and charge you. For instance, in order to conduct a search, the police must have a valid search warrant. You may have a strong defense if the police searched you without a warrant or harassed you in any way. If the judges feel that the search was unlawful, then any evidence obtained may not be admissible in the court, and your case would most likely be dismissed.

Contact a Lawyer Immediately

Being convicted of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree is a serious offense that may land you in prison for the rest of your life. So don’t take any chances when it comes to defending yourself. Hire a qualified criminal defense lawyer to represent you and possibly help you dismiss the case or have the charges reduced to less serious felonies. A lawyer will examine your case, gather all the facts and establish a viable defense strategy.

Note, when hiring a lawyer, you need to get someone who has a lot of experience handling cases similar to yours. Avoid people who combine criminal defense with other areas of law, as they will not give your case the attention it deserves.

by Leonard on Spodek Law Group
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