Possession of a Controlled Substance in New York

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All states regulate and control the possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for possession. New York classifies not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine as CDS, but also the compounds used to manufacture them.

This article discusses the illegal possession of CDS only. Illegally making or selling CDS carries different penalties. For more information on illegal CDS manufacture and sale, see Sale of Controlled Substances in New York.       

Also, while marijuana is considered a CDS, this article does not cover New York’s marijuana possession and sale laws. To learn more about that topic, see New York Marijuana Laws

How New York Classifies CDS

New York divides CDS into five “Schedules.” Schedule I lists the most dangerous drugs, which have a high probability of abuse and addiction, and no recognized medical value. Schedules II, III, IV, and V decrease in dangerousness and probability of abuse, and increase in recognized medical uses.

If you’ve been arrested for illegal CDS possesion, you’ll need to consult the New York Code that lists precisely which drugs fit into each group. Go to the statute (N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 3306 and following) and find the substance you're charged with selling -- it will be listed under one of the five schedules.

Penalties for Selling CDS

It is illegal in New York to possess CDS without a valid medical prescription. Penalties vary according to the type and amount of CDS involved in the violation, as described below.

Class A-I felony

Possessing eight or more ounces of CDS listed as narcotic drugs; or 5,760 milligrams or more of methadone, is a class A-I felony. Penalties include a fine of up to $100,000, at least 15 (and up to 25) years in prison, or both. (N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 220.21.)

Class A-II felony

It is a class A-II felony to possess the following specified amounts and types of CDS. Penalties include a fine of up to $50,000, at least three years (and up to eight years and four months) in prison, or both. (N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 220.18.)

  • four or more ounces, but less than eight ounces, but less than eight ounces of CDS listed as narcotic drugs
  • two or more ounces of methamphetamine
  • ten grams or more of a CDS classified as a stimulant
  • 25 milligrams or more of lysergic acid (LSD)
  • 625 milligrams or more of a CDS classified as a hallucinogen
  • 25 grams or more of a hallucinogenic substance
  • 2,880 milligrams or more, but less than 5,760 milligrams of methadone 

Class B felony

It is a class B felony to possess the following specified amounts and types of CDS. Penalties include a fine of up to $30,000, up to 25 years in prison, or both. (N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 220.16 and following.)

  • one half ounce or more, but less than four ounces of a narcotic drug
  • five grams or more, but less than ten grams of a stimulant
  • five milligrams or more, but less than 25 milligrams of LSD
  • five grams or more, but less than 25 grams of a hallucinogenic substance
  • 1,250 milligrams or more of phencyclidine (PCP)

Class C felony

It is a class C felony to possess the following specified amounts and types of CDS. Penalties include a fine of up to $15,000, up to 15 years in prison, or both. (N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 220.09.)

  • one eighth ounce or more but less than one half ounce of a narcotic CDS
  • one half ounce or more, but less than two ounces of methamphetamine
  • one gram or more, but less than five grams of a stimulant
  • one milligram or more, but less than five milligrams of LSD
  • 25 milligrams or more, but less than 625 milligrams of a hallucinogen
  • one gram or more, but less than five grams of a hallucinogenic substance
  • ten ounces or more of a CDS classified as a dangerous depressant
  • two pounds or more of a depressant
  • 250 milligrams or more, but less than 1,250 milligrams of PCP
  • 360 milligrams or more, but less than 2,880 milligrams of methadone
  • 4,000 grams or more of ketamine
  • 200 grams or more of gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB)

Class D felony

It is a class D felony to possess the following specified amounts and types of CDS. Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, up to seven years in prison, or both. (N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 220.06 and following.)

  • one half ounce or more of a narcotic preparation
  • 50 milligrams or more, but less than 250 milligrams of PCP
  • 500 milligrams or more of cocaine
  • 1,000 milligrams or more, but less than 4,000 milligrams of ketamine
  • 28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams of GHB

Class A misdemeanor

It is a class A misdemeanor to possess any CDS not specified above (excluding marijuana), or amounts of CDS that are lower than the lowest amounts specified above. Penalties include a fine of up to $1,000, up to one year in jail, or both. (N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 220.03 and following.)

Talk to an Attorney

CDS possession convictions can incur harsh fines and long periods of incarceration. A local lawyer who practices CDS defense will review the facts of your case, explain your options, and advise you of the possible consequences.

by: , Contributing Author

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