CDH Law PLLC gives an overview of New York's drug possession charges and defenses.

New York Drug Possession Charges and Defenses

By David Hammond

A drug possession charge varies in severity depending on a number of different factors.  Certain drugs considered to be more dangerous will likely come with more severe penalties. Larger quantities of the drug will likely result in heightened charges. While the penalties will vary in severity depending on the specifics, all drug charges should be taken seriously. A conviction could mean fines and jail time as well as a mark on your criminal record.

New York Drug Possession Charges and Defenses

There is a wide range of drug possession charges and, as stated above, the charge you face will vary depending on things like:

  • Which drug was involved?
  • How much of the drug was involved?
  • Was there any evidence of an intent to sell the drugs?
  • Was there any evidence that the drug was being sold?
  • Were there firearms present when the drugs were found?
  • Do you have any prior convictions? Do you have any prior felony convictions?

In order to successfully bring a case against someone for a drug possession charge, prosecutors carry the burden of proving every single element beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that prosecutors must prove:

  • The substance was a controlled substance;
  • The defendant was in possession of the controlled substance;
  • The defendant was knowingly in possession of the controlled substance; and
  • The possession of the controlled substance was unlawful.

There are, of course, further details and complexities in each of these elements. For instance, possession means that the defendant either had actual or constructive possession of the controlled substance. Actual possession means that the drugs were found on the person. Constructive possession means that the drugs were not necessarily on the person, but the person was in a position to exercise control over the drugs or the area in which the drugs were found.

A common defense strategy when someone is facing a drug possession charge is to undermine one or more elements that the prosecutor has to prove. The defense team can either disprove an element or undermine the validity of the element. An example may be disproving the prosecutor’s allegation that the possession of the controlled substance was unlawful. A person may have been in possession of marijuana but may have had a valid prescription for the drug. Medical marijuana can be prescribed to patients with qualifying conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, HIV, and other conditions where there is a need to manage chronic pain.

A drug charge may also be fought by claiming that there was an illegal search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits police officers from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures. That is why law enforcement officers are required to follow a certain protocol when searching suspects for evidence of a crime being committed. If there was no probable cause for your arrest or your constitutional rights were violated in any way, it could lead to crucial evidence being thrown out or the charges themselves being thrown out.

New York Drug Charge Defense Attorneys

Drug charges are all too common, but that does not mean you should dismiss them as no big deal. A conviction for a drug charge comes with serious and lasting consequences. That is why the dedicated criminal defense attorneys at CDH Law are relentless in fighting for our clients. Contact us today.

About the Author
David is a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for service members and their families. He served nine years and two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer, then joined the Reserves and settled down in Syracuse to be near family. Now representing people across Central New York charged with serious felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, and traffic offenses, he puts the same level of commitment into his civilian law practice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact David here.