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New York Criminal Charges – Questions and Answers Part 1

marijuana drugs dope arrest confiscated pot What type of drug cases do you handle?

Our offices handles every type of drug case, from relatively minor prosecutions for possession of marijuana, to defending those who are charged will selling “hard drugs.” There is a big difference between the kind of sentences imposed for what are called hard drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, and soft drugs such as marijuana. While selling marijuana is prosecuted relatively tepidly in New York, Brooklyn and Queens courts, in Nassau and Suffolk County counties, they generally prosecute even marijuana possession quite aggressively.

We represent people who are charged with the possession and/or sale of cocaine and heroin, which used to be subject to very severe penalties under the “Rockefeller Drug Laws,” which were in effect in New York for decades. Recent changes in the law have significantly reduced these penalties .

The unauthorized possession or sale of prescription bills can also subject a person to serious criminal charges. Some of these pharmaceuticals are manufactured in illegal laboratories.

What are some of the pills that you’ve seen?

We have defended clients who were charged with illegally obtaining such drugs as Vicodin, Oxycontin and Percocet.

How are the crimes of sale and possession defined in New York?

Possession is not penalized as severely as crimes relating to the sale of illegal narcotics. It is possible to inadvertently commit the crime of selling drugs by buying some drugs and then giving or selling a small amount to a friend. Although the person may not intend to become a “drug dealer,” he is inadvertently committing a much more serious offense than merely possessing drugs.

The system works in the following way: If the authorities arrest you for possessing a narcotics of a certain weight, you would often want to make a plea deal with the prosecutor. It is sometimes necessary for you to cooperate with the police or the district attorney’s office by giving them information to assist in the prosecution of someone on a higher level in the drug dealing chain. This is what happens to many individuals on the lowest level of the drug dealing pyramid structure who are caught by narcotics agents, or “narcs,” as they sell drugs on the street.

As indicated earlier in this post, New York City, Brooklyn and Queens counties treat drug crimes differently than they do in Nassau and Suffolk counties. In the latter, these cases are more vigorously prosecuted in the Long Island suburbs than they are in the city.

Picture courtesy of hiptics.com

New York Rockefeller Drug Laws to Become More Flexible?

drugs-gun-knifeOn March 4th, Senator Schneiderman, et al, introduced a number of revisions to the Rockefeller era strict drug laws to the New York State Legislature. The law were originally introduced during the tenure of the then-Governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller in 1973. The laws provide for mandatory sentencing minimums for various drug offences.

Perhaps fearing that he would not be able to garner enough support to pass these changes as a stand-alone bill, Governor Paterson and the legislature are making these amendments to the NY PenalCode part of their vote on the budget.

The new law would give judges more sentencing leeway with narcotics offenders.  They could be sentenced to local jails, probation, a military-style “shock camp” or a prison-run drug treatment facility.

Many have lamented the dramatic increase in the U.S. prison population from 300,000 in 1973 to about 2.3 million today. One obvious reason is the large number of drug offenders. Certainly by defining fewer things as criminal, or sentencing drug offenders to treatment rather than jail time, we can expect that the prison population to go down.

According to Malcom Smith, the New York State Senate Democratic Majority Leader, prisoners costs taxpayers about $45,000 per inmate per year.  And according to Sheldon Silver, it would only cost the State about $15,000 to pay for treatment in lieu of jail time.

Perhaps only time will tell if these changes will result in more crime through lighter sentencing or will be even more effective than current laws, while saving the State some much-needed money.

As always though, anyone who is facing drug charges should use a lawyer with significant criminal defense experience.

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