It is a rowdy night in Queens. All manner of people walks up and down the street talking with friends or shouting hello to someone they know driving by in a car. You are part of the party crowd at a friend’s house. Then the shouting starts, and a police officer is yelling at you to lie down on the ground and put your hands behind your back.
The police arrest you for drug possession. You have never committed a crime, but now that you have, the outcome scares you. Depending on the type of drug and how much you have in your possession will determine your punishment.
What must the prosecutors prove?
There are two types of drug possession:
- Actual possession – the police discovered the drugs somewhere on your person.
- Constructive possession – the drug was in an area that you have control over. For example, the drugs are in your backpack which is on your couch. Although you do not physically have the backpack in your hand, you have control over it because it is yours.
In either case, the prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of possessing a controlled substance. To obtain a conviction, they must show the following:
- The drug is a controlled substance
- You possessed the substance
- You knew you had it
- The possession was illegal
What are the penalties?
Being in possession of 8 or more ounces of an illegal narcotic is an A-1 felony. If convicted, you may receive a sentence of eight to 20 years in prison and a fine of $100,000. For lesser felony convictions, there are terms of imprisonment from one to nine years. Fines range from $15,000 to $30,000.
An attorney experienced in the drug laws of New York could help you understand the possible defenses against your charges. Some arguments can include not knowing about the drugs or proving the drugs in your possession are prescription medications.