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220.31 Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree

New York law prohibits the sale of controlled substances. The seriousness of the offense depends on the exact details involved in the crime. It may depend on the substance involved, how much of the substance the person tries to sell, where it’s sold and the prior offenses of the person involved. The likely penalties for a violation also depend on these factors.

Varying degrees of the sale of a controlled substance

New York law divides sale of controlled substance offenses into degrees. The degrees are meant to indicate the seriousness of each offense as well as give courts guidelines for potential penalties based on the events involved. For criminal sale of a controlled substance, the seriousness of the offenses range from first degree to fifth degree. A first-degree offense is the most serious. A fifth-degree offense is the least serious.

The offense

Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree occurs when a person knowingly sells a controlled substance. The sale must be unlawful. That means, it’s not a crime for a licensed medical care provider to sell a controlled medicine by legal means. In addition, the state must prove that the person they charge sold the drugs knowingly. It may be a defense to the charges if another person tricks them into making the sale.

Fifth degree penalties

Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree is a class D felony. That means, even though it’s a serious offense, probation and even jail may not necessarily be a given. The court can look at all of the circumstances of the offense in order to determine the appropriate sentence.

Defending against the charges

You may defend against a drug charge on the grounds that you didn’t possess the drug. If the drugs are in a vehicle with multiple occupants, it might not be clear who’s to blame for the presence of drugs. You might also avoid sale charges by showing that you never intended to sell the drugs. You may also defend against the charges on constitutional grounds. Law enforcement may not violate your constitutional rights when they investigate the allegations against you.

Potential consequences

Jail is only one of the potential consequences of a class D felony conviction. You’ll likely have to pay significant fines. The court may place you on probation. The state may also look to invoke civil forfeiture laws in order to take property that they believe you use to commit crimes. The state must follow certain procedures in order to invoke civil forfeiture laws, so it’s important to review the action against you to see if the police made errors that can work to your favor.

Drug courts

If you’re facing a charge of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, one option for you to consider is participation in a drug treatment court. Drug treatment courts have grown in popularity in the last decade. They exist to help substance users and abusers tackle substance abuse issues rather than simply punish them.

Participants in recovery court can often receive a reduction in their charges or sentence in exchange for their participation in the program. If you’re facing a charge of sale in the fifth degree, you may be able to use your participation in order to avoid a felony conviction. Participation in drug court is hard work; there are court appearances involved and treatment that you need to take seriously. However, it’s also an opportunity. There are resources available for participants and program leaders to help offenders find the help they need in order to avoid becoming repeat offenders.

by Leonard on Spodek Law Group
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