New York courts take drug charges seriously, and these charges often come with stiff penalties. A sentence may include fines, jail time and court hearings, but the severity usually depends on various factors.
Sentencing and factors for possession
Most states have enacted mandatory sentencing for selling, manufacturing and possessing illegal substances. Simple possession means holding a small amount of a substance for personal use, and it might get a lesser sentence than selling or manufacturing depending on the substance. Penalties may increase if the defendant gets caught within 1,000 feet of a school, gets caught with a weapon or has prior convictions.
Narcotics include cocaine, heroin, opium, morphine and meth, which the government treats as posing a danger to society and thus imposes harsher penalties. Offenders may get stiffer sentences for a narcotics charge depending on the amount of substance. For example, small amounts of cocaine could get the defendant up to 15 years in jail and up to a $500,000 fine.
New York considers possession of 500 grams or more of any substance a Class D felony. This usually results in one to two years in prison for a first offense and up to four years for a second offense.
Penalties for intent to sell usually include up to nine years in prison. The defendant could get charged with possession with intent to distribute based on the amount and the weight. The presence of firearms, location and prior convictions may also influence sentencing as for possession.
Criminal defense can be confusing and complex for people without the knowledge of the law. An experienced attorney may be able to help defendants get reduced charges.