What You Should Know About Drug Charges in New York

When people have substance abuse issues, it can bring problems into their professional lives, as well as damage their personal relationships. However, those that take drugs aren’t the only individuals impacted by drug-related offenses. If you manufacture, possess, sell, or transport illegal substances, the consequences of being convicted of a New York drug crime can seriously affect your livelihood and freedom and the aftermath can have a lasting impact for your entire life. Whenever you are accused of any crime, you need to know how the legal system will evaluate your charges. This is no different when it comes to drug-related crimes. 

Penalties for Drug-Related Crimes

Jail time is customary for many offenses associated with illegal substances and many incarcerated individuals are indeed sentenced due to some type of drug involvement. Besides serving time in jail, an offender may also face costly fines, probation, community service, or house arrest. As soon as your criminal history involves a drug-related crime, it can prevent you from gaining employment, entering the military, owning a weapon, receiving a loan, or registering to vote. 

How Drug Penalties are Determined

Not every penalty is available for every crime; it will depend on various factors. The court will consider the following when determining punishment:

  • The type and the amount of the substance that the individual has in their possession 
  • The activity that the individual was engaged in at the time of the arrest
  • The frequency that the individual has encountered law enforcement (if you have a criminal record, your sentence will generally be harsher)

New York Schedule of Drugs

It’s illegal to possess a controlled dangerous substances (CDS) without a valid medical prescription. New York divides CDS into five different categories called “schedules.” The grouping is based on the level of danger, how likely people can become addicted, and the medical uses for the drug. Schedule I is considered the most dangerous of the drugs (it includes heroin, LSD, and ecstasy) and has a high risk of addiction and abuse, with no medical benefits. Schedule II, III, IV, and V increase in recognized medical benefits and decrease in risk for abuse and dangerousness. Schedule II drugs have some medical benefits, but also a high risk of abuse, including meth and cocaine. Schedule III includes medications, like steroids and ketamine, that have a lower risk of dependency. Schedule IV consists of low risk medications, including Tramadol and Xanax. The final classification, Schedule V has the lowest risk and least dangerous drugs, like couch medicine. 

Types of Drug Offenses

Because the penalty will depend on the specific activity at the time of the arrest, there are very different penalties, depending on the specific drug charges. For instance, selling drugs and trafficking them are considered much more serious offenses than simple possession and can result in more strict punishments.  

Talk to a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney about Drug Charges

Drug convictions are accompanied by long stretches of incarceration and harsh fines. If you’ve been accused of a drug-related crime, you should act in your best interests and talk to a New York lawyer who is familiar with this complex subject area. You can talk with an experienced New York criminal defense MOWK Law attorney who can mount a diligent defense on your behalf. Contact us immediately for more information.