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220 Controlled substances; definitions

When the police accuse someone of committing a crime, they have to prove that the person did specific things. It’s not enough just to accuse someone of selling drugs because law enforcement believes it’s true as they define it. Instead, New York law has definitions for words in controlled substances laws. In order to find you guilty of the offense, the state has to prove that your actions met these definitions.

Statutory interpretation

The exact meanings of the words in a law can become a large matter of debate. How to determine what a law means is called statutory interpretation. Judges are often called on to determine what exactly the words in mean in a law. Words have meanings, and the differences in opinion in what a law means can mean the difference between years in prison and a finding of not guilty.

Applicability of the definitions

The definitions listed in New York penal law 220 apply to all of the crimes in that section of the law. When a person faces a criminal substance abuse charge, they should read the law that they’re charged with violating. Then, they can turn to section 220.00 in order to determine whether the state is properly using the definitions in that section in order to meet their burden of proof.

The definitions

The law contains definitions of many of the words contained in New York’s substance abuse laws. These definitions are usually different than the dictionary definition. If the law doesn’t define a word, the courts usually look to the plain meaning of the word. This can mean consulting a dictionary, but the dictionary definition isn’t necessarily the interpretation that the court will choose.

The law defines what it means to sell. It says that selling includes giving or even trading. Selling also includes just an offer or agreement to sell even if the sale never takes place.

New York law 220.00 defines certain units of weights and measurements. It defines ounces for both solids and liquids. It also defines a pound as a avoirdupois pound. Avoirdupois means 16 ounces.

For specific controlled substance definitions, the law looks to New York’s schedule of controlled substances. There are some special definitions and exceptions for marijuana which has its own definition. The law also defines a narcotic drug, hallucinogens, depressants and stimulants.

There are other definitions in the law that may prove critical to your defense. For example, if you’re charged with selling drugs on a school grounds, the law contains a long definition of a school grounds that it’s important to review. If you’re only near a school grounds but not on school property, the law may not apply. There’s even a definition of school bus that may be relevant in your case.

The burden of proof

If you’re facing a criminal charge in New York, you have constitutional rights. You have a right to a trial by jury. You have the right to present evidence in your defense. You have the right to the assistance of an attorney. The state has to prove the charges against you. The standard is beyond a reasonable doubt. That means the state has to convince the jury that it’s beyond reasonable doubt that you’re guilty of the offense you’re charged with.

If you’re facing a controlled substance charge, you shouldn’t assume that you don’t have options. Instead, you should work with an experienced New York drug crime attorney in order to explore the possibilities for your defense. You may be surprised at the ways that you can present defenses to either ask the jury to find you not guilty or lessen the penalties in your case.

by Leonard on Spodek Law Group
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