Criminal Sale and Unlawful Possession of Prescription Opioids and Narcotics: NY Penal Law Article 220 Crimes

If you knowingly and unlawfully possess or criminally sell opioids anywhere in the State of New York, also classified as narcotics and listed in New York Public Health Law Schedule I and Schedule II, you should expect an arrest is forthcoming. Right behind that arrest is the District Attorney and a New York criminal court judge ready to hold you accountable for your alleged dealings in the prescription medication scourge. It’s irrelevant if these drugs are prescription medications or otherwise, although, if they are you should expect no sympathy from law enforcement. By all means you can consult with a New York criminal defense lawyer or, should you believe it’s unnecessary, proceed as you deem appropriate and live with the outcome for the rest of your days.

Irrespective of whether the narcotic or opioid you unlawfully possess or sell is Heroin, LSD, Raw Opium, Codeine, Hydrocodone, Dillaudid, Morphine, Oxycodone or Demerol is inconsequential. Arrested for selling Fentanyl, aka, China Girl or Apache, Hydrocone, aka, Vicodin, Lortab, Vikes, 357s, Watson-387s or Loris in Manhattan? Indicted by a Grand Jury for trafficking Oxycodone, aka, OxyContin, Roxicodone, Percocet, 512s or Percs in Brooklyn? The felonious consequences do not change. An arrest in Queens or Westchester County for knowingly and unlawfully possessing Oxymorphone, aka, Opana, Octagons or Stop Signs or Hydromorphone, aka, Dilaudid, Dust or Dillies, not only jeopardizes your future with a misdemeanor conviction, but exposes you to a felony and incarceration as well. While the list goes on from Meperidine such as Demerol, aka, Demmies, to Diphenoxylate, aka, Lomotil, if you violate the criminal law in New York and you are arrested for a New York Penal Law Article 220 crime, you will feel the full force of the criminal justice system. From up to one year in jail on a misdemeanor conviction or far more years in a State prison post felony conviction, the direct and collateral consequences of an arrest and conviction for a PL Article 220 crime relating to prescription opioid and narcotics is shattering.

Keep in mind that while the New York Penal Law can aggregate weights of controlled substances to establish felonies, each individual pill of the same type is not a distinct crime. What changes that analysis in favor of felony is if prosecutors can establish your possession revolved around an intent to sell. That said, every unlawful and criminal sale of a controlled substance, including opioids and narcotics, is a separate felony offense. Even worse, the first sale of Percs, Stop Signs, Apache, Oxy, and every subsequent distribution, transfer or sale of these prescription medicines and controlled substances is a felony with a presumptive one year minimum in prison.

NY Penal Law Article 220: Crimes for Unlawful Possession and Sale of Narcotics and Opioids

Before touching on the numerous felony offenses involving Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance and the all-inclusive sale crimes violating Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance, every criminal case has roots in a misdemeanor drug offense. Narcotics and opioid possession is no different whether it was initially obtained from a pharmacist or physician and serves a medical purpose or it was purchased in the streets or at a club. No matter where you possess narcotics, if your possession is both knowing and unlawful, then your possession is also criminal. This crime, Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, New York Penal Law 220.03, is a misdemeanor and upon conviction the arrestee, now the convicted, faces one year in jail. Will you land on a cold bench or flimsy mattress on Rikers Island or the Westchester County Jail? Likely not if you are a first-time offender, but whether you are issued a Desk Appearance Ticket or hauled off to a holding cell to see a judge, the crime and sentence you face is the same.

NY Penal Law Article 220: Felonies for Criminal Possession of Narcotics and Opioids

Without addressing crimes involving significant amounts or weights of opioids or narcotics, prosecutors have the ability to “bump up” illegal possession of prescription medications from the misdemeanor crime above to a felony offense. Whether you have three pills or fifty of any particular medication or prescription drug, if the District Attorney can prove beyond a reasonable doubt, or the police merely have probable cause to believe, you possessed the Oxy, Percs, Vikes or other drug with the intent to sell, your criminal defense lawyer will likely be defending you against the charge of Third Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance. New York Penal Law 220.16(1) criminalizes the knowing and unlawful possession of any narcotic drug with the intent to sell it. Further, a separate subsection of the class “B” felony, New York Penal Law 220.16(12) criminalizes possession of any mixture, compound or substance weighing one half ounce or more. Upon conviction, know that a judge has the authority to sentence you to a presumptive mandatory minimum of one year in prison and as long as nine years incarceration. Your prescription drug defense lawyer nor your family need to tell you that one days in prison is 24 hours too long.

  • NY Penal Law 220.16: Third Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance

Although not carrying the same maximum term of incarceration, a conviction for the class “C” felony of Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance allows for the same minimum imprisonment with a maximum of five years in lieu of nine. New York Penal Law 220.09(1) codifies the felonious criminal consequences of knowingly and unlawfully possessing one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing a narcotic drug with an aggregate weight of one-eighth ounce or more. If the substance or compound is a narcotic preparation, instead of a drug, and weights two ounces or more, then New York Penal Law 220.09(3) is violated. Again, it’s inconsequential if the drugs are possessed or purchased in the street or an office, with or without the intent to sell or they were originally legally secured by some party through a pharmacist or doctor. Simply, knowingly and unlawfully possessing prescription medicine such as Fentanyl, Vicadin, Roxicodone or Opana is a serious offense with the real possibility of imprisonment knocking on your door.

  • NY Penal Law 220.09: Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance

“Only” punishable by up to two and a half years in prison, New York Penal Law 220.06, Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, is nonetheless a life altering felony in terms of being locked away and being branded with a Scarlet Letter as a drug trafficker or abuser. A class “D” felony. New York Penal Law 220.06(2) is committed if you knowingly and unlawfully possess one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing a narcotic weighing an aggregate of one-half ounce or more.

All felony crimes, New York Penal Law sections 220.16, 220.09 and 220.6 solely address the knowing and unlawful possession of opioids and narcotics, prescription drugs and otherwise, with either the intent to sell them or based on their weights. Know that a conviction for any of these crimes not only involves presumptive incarceration, but upon release from prison your headache and heartache won’t end. Instead, you can face years of ongoing and intrusive supervision.

NY Penal Law Article 220: Felonies for Criminal Sale of Narcotics and Opioids

If you are reading this post-arrest, there is no doubt you are now aware that any time you sell narcotics and opioids, whether they are prescription drugs you took from your parent’s bathroom cabinet or you personally filled out at Duane Reade, you are on the hook for felony charges. Barring your sale involving significant amounts of drugs or medicines, the crimes you will face include Third and Fourth Degree Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance.

  • NY Penal Law 220.34: Fourth Degree Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance
  • NY Penal Law 220.39: Third Degree Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance

If you sell a narcotic preparation, not a narcotic drug, prosecutors would charge you with violating New York Penal Law 220.34(1). If you sell a narcotic drug or you sell a narcotic preparation to someone under the age of 21, then prosecutors would increase the crime from the “C” to “B” felony of New York Penal Law 220.39(1) or 220.39(9) respectively. While Fourth Degree Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance is punishable by between one and five years in prison, Third Degree Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance has a maximum sentence of nine years. In places like New York City, where there are school on every other block, an arrest for a prescription drug sale of this kind is punishable pursuant to New York Penal Law 220.44 where the maximum nine years imprisonment remains the same, but the presumed mandatory minimum is elevated to two years.

NY Penal Law Article 220: Defenses for Criminal Sale of Narcotics and Opioids

As much as he or she would want to, your criminal defense lawyer can’t pull a defense out of a hat and throw it against a wall hoping it will stick. Prosecutors and judges take unlawful possession and sale crimes relating to narcotics and opioids extremely seriously. And make no mistake. They should.

Because of what is out stake, you and your prescription drug defense lawyer must examine whether the prosecution can establish actual or constructive possession. Whether the theory of their case involves you acting in concert or as an accomplice with another person or as the principle law breaker. Did the NYPD or other law enforcement officers have probable cause to arrest you? Did they enter or search your home or car lawfully with or without a search warrant? Moreover, were you the target of a long-term investigation where the District Attorney had you on a wire or was this not a proactive arrest? Equally important, did you make any admissions and did the police properly advise you of your right to remain silent?

The questions are as numerous as the potential arrest scenarios for criminally selling and unlawfully possessing prescription drugs in New York. Be smart. If you are reading this and you have been arrested already, know that you have options. From judicial diversion and shock incarceration, to drug treatment court and other alternatives, take the initiative to identify your defense, implement that defense, and best avoid a lifetime of regret.

Advocacy, experience and knowledge can be the best defense to a prescription drug possession, distribution, or sale arrest. Because there is no substitution for the best viable defense when your future is on the line, let the New York criminal defense lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland not merely guide you through the criminal justice system, but put you in the best place to put your arrest firmly in your past.

Call the New York criminal lawyers and former New York City prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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