drug crime
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By Michael Arbeit
Founding Attorney

In New York, the laws regarding possession and intent to sell drugs are both strict and complex. These laws categorize illegal substances and control their distribution, and the severity of the charges depends on several factors. These include the type and amount of the drug in question, the individual’s intent (personal use vs. intent to sell) regarding the drugs, and their prior criminal history. Possession with the intent to sell is considered a more serious offense than simple possession and can result in significant legal penalties, including lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines. Michael A. Arbeit, P.C. can counsel you should you find yourself charged with either possession of, and/or intent to sell a controlled substance.

Possession vs. Intent to Sell

Here are some key aspects of New York’s laws concerning controlled substances that show the contrast between possession and intent to sell controlled substances:

  • Controlled Substances: Controlled substances include both illegal drugs, such as heroin, methamphetamines and cocaine, and some prescription medications like Vicodin, OxyContin, Ambien and Ritalin. Possession alone of illegal substances is a crime in itself. The possession of legally controlled substances (prescription drugs) is a criminal offense if you do not have a legal prescription to possess or take them. New York classifies drugs into different schedules based on their potential for abuse and medical utility. Schedule I drugs (for example, heroin, LSD) have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, while Schedule V drugs have a lower potential for abuse. 
  • Penalties For Personal Possession:  Penalties vary depending on the type and amount of the drug. Possession of a small amount of a less dangerous substance might be treated as a misdemeanor and be subject to fines or probation. Possession of larger amounts or more dangerous drugs can be a felony, and mean lengthy prison sentences.
  • Amount Matters: The amount of the drug in possession is a critical factor. Possessing a small amount might be considered for personal use, but larger amounts could lead to charges of possession with intent to distribute.
  • Marijuana Laws:  New York has recently decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. However, possession of larger amounts or sale of marijuana can still result in criminal charges.
  • Diversion Programs: New York offers diversion programs for some drug offenders, especially first-time offenders. These programs focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment and may include drug treatment, counseling, and education.

Intent to Sell Controlled Substances

Possession with the intent to sell is considered a more serious offense than simple possession and can result in significant legal penalties, including lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines. The state differentiates between various substances, with specific laws and penalties on each, emphasizing its commitment to controlling drug-related activities.

  • Penalties: Selling drugs is generally treated more harshly than possessing controlled substances. Penalties can vary depending on a range of factors:
  • Factors Influencing Sentences
    • Amount and Type of Drug: The more dangerous or larger the quantity of the drug, the harsher the penalty.
    • Prior Convictions: Those with prior drug convictions often face stiffer penalties.
    • Location: Selling drugs near schools or other designated areas can increase penalties.
    • Other Criminal Activity: If drug offenses are connected to other crimes, penalties can increase.
  • Drug Trafficking: This is a more serious offense involving the large-scale sale or distribution of drugs. It carries severe penalties, including lengthy prison terms.
  • Drug Court and Alternative Sentencing
  • Drug Treatment Programs: New York has drug courts that can divert offenders to treatment programs instead of prison.
  • Alternative Sentencing: For non-violent offenders, options like probation or community service may be available.

Contact Michael A. Arbeit, P.C. to Schedule an Initial Consultation

If someone is facing drug charges, it is crucial to seek the services of an experienced criminal law attorney. For example, new legislation was enacted in New York in 2021 allowing the use of certain amounts of marijuana. It is important to consult with an attorney who can counsel you on the most up-to-date laws regarding possession and intent to sell controlled substances in general. Michael A. Arbeit, P.C. can help you navigate the system and advocate for you if you are charged with possession of and/or intent to sell a controlled substance. Contact our office today to learn more.

About the Author
Michael A. Arbeit, P.C. is devoted to all Criminal Defense and  Traffic related matters.  Michael practices primarily in the Criminal and County (Supreme) Courts in Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens County, Kings County, New York County and the Bronx County.  Michael is also licensed to practice law in the Federal Courts of the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) and the Southern District of New York (SDNY).