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220.34 Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth degree

In New York, sale of drug charges are classified into degrees. Lawmakers base these degrees on the severity of the offense. Sale of drug charges are classified into five degrees. First degree is the most serious, while fifth degree is the lowest classification for drug sale crimes. Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth degree is a class C felony under New York law.

What counts as a fourth-degree drug sale?

Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth-degree can mean many things. It depends on the substance involved and how much of the substance is involved. It requires careful reading in order to determine the classification of the offense against you. In fact, the amount of the substance involved might be a point of contention and something for you to keep in mind when you prepare your defense.

A fourth-degree offense may include selling a narcotic preparation, a dangerous depressant or a certain amount of any depressant. It may involve concentrated marijuana, phencyclidine in certain amounts or methadone. Sale of any amount of phencyclidine may count if you have a prior related offense. Ketamine is another substance that may result in a violation in certain quantities.

In addition to these substances, certain actions that are otherwise criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree can amount to criminal sale in the fourth degree if certain circumstances are present. For example, a sale in the fifth degree is enhanced to fourth degree if the sale occurs on school grounds or on the school bus. It’s also enhanced to the fourth degree if it happens at a child care or educational location.

There are definitions that apply to child care or educational facilities. It’s important to read each word carefully in the charged offense. There may be a legal definition that can help you determine if the state has proof of that element of the offense against you.

Possible legal defenses

There are a number of ways that you might go about defending yourself against charges of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth degree. You can look at each element of the offense in order to see if there are questions as to your guilt or the state’s proof against you. For example, all charges of sale in the fourth degree require the person to act knowingly. That means, they must know that they’re trying to make a sale, and they must know that what they’re trying to sell is a controlled substance. The state can’t prove their case if you sell the substance accidentally or without complete knowledge of what you were doing.

Another defense might be that the state can’t prove the identity of the substance against you. The state needs to have more than just a suspicion as to the substance’s identity. They should carefully preserve it as evidence and test it. There are procedures that they need to follow in order to identify and preserve evidence for trial. If they fail to follow these important steps, it can call the case against you into doubt.

Many drug cases raise defenses on constitutional grounds. Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, you have the right to live free from unreasonable search and seizure of the police. The police can’t just search your home, vehicle or person without a lawful grounds to do so. When they violate your rights, the court may throw out the evidence against you. Sometimes, police get ahead of themselves and perform a search without the appropriate authority. That can result in dismissal of your case before it even goes to a jury.

by Leonard on Spodek Law Group
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