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Queens Drug Crime Defense Attorney

Drug and Narcotics Charges

One of the most commonly prosecuted crimes under New York law remains the narcotics and drug crimes case. Rochelle S. Berliner is a criminal defense attorney in Queens, NY, with more than 12 years experience as an Assistant Special Narcotics Prosecutor with the New York County District Attorney's Office in Manhattan. That experience prosecuting street-level drug cases, long-term investigations, wiretap cases and high profile drug cases, along with many years of experience as a criminal defense attorney, gives Rochelle Berliner a unique perspective on aggressively fighting drug crimes.

A charge for a drug or narcotics crime does not indicate guilt. The specific circumstances of your case can play an important role in your defense. This includes the method of police discovery, testing procedures, and even failure to read Miranda rights. There are various other aspects to consider about your case depending on the specific charge. Commonly prosecuted drug and narcotics charges in New York City include:

We have created resources on this web site to help answer many of the common and not so common questions about New York drug and narcotics charges. However, this should not be construed as legal advice. Contacting an experienced New York drug and narcotics defense attorney can help you evaluate your situation and pursue the proper legal measures.

Queens Drug and Narcotics Attorney

Rochelle S. Berliner believes that one of the most effective ways of fighting drug charges involves filing and litigating innovative pre-trial motions including motions to dismiss, motions to exclude, and motions to suppress evidence obtained illegally or through unreasonable searches by law enforcement. Call 718-261-5600 today to speak with an experienced Queens drug crime defense attorney serving Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn and The Bronx. Obtain an attorney early in the case so that all avenues of attacking the charges are available.


Drug and Narcotics Information Center


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Defense of Drug and Narcotics Charges in New York

Drug and narcotics charges are among the most common crimes in New York. Each charge ranges in severity, from misdemeanors to felonies. The specific circumstances surrounding your charge will determine what penalties you may face. These details, including the type and quantity of the drug, location of the arrest, prior drug convictions, and evidence of sale are all contributing factors.

Common defense strategies will analyze the actions of the undercover officer and/or the arresting officer. For vehicle stops made by a police officer, the legality of the stop can be questioned.

  • Was there probable cause?
  • How many people were in the car?
  • Who was in possession of the controlled substance?
  • Where was the controlled substance found?
  • If questioned or interrogated, was the individual informed of his/her Miranda rights?

It's important to remember that a charge for a drug or narcotics crime does not indicate guilt. There may be details surrounding the arrest and investigation that can potentially demonstrate your innocence or minimize any charges.


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Types of Illegal Narcotics and and Controlled Substances under New York Law

  • Street Drugs
    • Cocaine and Crack Cocaine
    • Methamphetamines
    • Heroin
    • Marihuana (also known as marijuana, cannabis, pot, or weed)
  • Abused Prescription Medication
    • OxyContin
    • Oxycodone
    • Percocet
    • Codeine
    • Hydrocodone
    • Vicodin
  • "Club Drugs" (also known as "Designer Drugs")
    • Ecstasy
    • Rohypnol
    • Ketamine
    • GHB
    • Methamphetamines
    • LSD

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New York Schedules of Controlled Substances

Under Title I of the New York State Public Health Law, Section 3306, narcotics and controlled substances are divided into five schedules: schedules I, II, III, IV and V. The schedule is one factor in determining the severity of a drug crime. A complete list of the schedule classifications can be found at the New York Department of Health's web site.

Schedule I. This drug schedule includes: opium derivatives such as heroin, morphine and codeine; Hallucinogenic Substances, including LSD, marijuana, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin and tetrahydrocannabinols (synthetic equivalents of the substances contained in the cannabis plant); Depressants such as methaqualone (quaaludes) and phencyclidine (PCP, also known as "angel dust"); and certain Stimulants. These substances are generally the most addictive are not prescribed for medical use in New York.

Schedule II. This drug schedule includes substances that have been proven highly addictive, such as cocaine, methadone, codeine, oxycodone (Percoset), oxycodone hydrochloride (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine, thebaine, fentanyl, opium, amphetamine, methamphetamine, amobarbital, pentobarbital, secobarbital and anabolic steroids. Some of these substances may have been approved for medical use.

Schedule III. These substances have the potential for long-term physical and psychological dependence. However, they are widely used and prescribed for medical purposes. This includes ketamine, and medicines with certain levels of codeine.

Schedule IV Substances in this schedule include depressants such as sedatives and tranquilizers.

Schedule V Drugs in this list are commonly prescribed medicines containing codeine, such as cough medicines, which are readily available.


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Possible Drug Possession Penalties in New York

Charge
Classification
Penalty
Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 7th Degree Class A Misdemeanor Up to 1 year in jail
Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 5th Degree Class D Felony Up to 2.5 years in prison with no prior felony convictions (1 year minimum)
Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 4th Degree Class C Felony Up to 5.5 years in prison with no prior felony convictions (1 year minimum)
Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 3rd Degree Class B Felony Up to 9 years in prison with no prior felony convictions (1 year minimum)
Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 2nd Degree Class A-II Felony Up to 10 years in prison with no prior felony convictions (3 year minimum)
Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 1st Degree Class A-I Felony Up to 20 years in prison with no prior felony convictions (8 year minimum)

 


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Possible Drug Sale Penalties in New York

Charge
Classification
Penalty
Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the 5th Degree Class D Felony Up to 2.5 years in prison with no prior felony convictions (1 year minimum)
Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the 4th Degree Class C Felony Up to 5.5 years in prison with no prior felony convictions (1 year minimum)
Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the 3rd Degree Class B Felony Up to 9 years in prison with no prior felony convictions (1 year minimum)
Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the 2nd Degree Class A-II Felony Up to 10 years in prison with no prior felony convictions (3 year minimum)
Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the 1st Degree Class A-I Felony Up to 20 years in prison with no prior felony convictions (8 year minimum)
Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in or near school grounds Class B Felony Up to 9 years in prison with no prior felony convictions (2 year minimum)

 


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New York Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance - 7th Degree

Class A Misdemeanor (§ 220.03)

Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 7th Degree is defined as knowingly possessing a controlled substance that is unlawful under New York law. This means an awareness that the individual is in physical or constructive possession of the controlled substance. To prove this crime in court, the prosecutors must establish that:

  1. On the date and location of the charge, the defendant was in possession of the controlled substance; and
  2. The defendant was aware that he/she was in possession of said controlled substance.

In New York, this charge does not apply to marijuana offenses. Additionally, there is no minimum or maximum amount of the controlled substance required to prove the charge. This precedent was established in People v. Mizell 72 N.Y.2d 651 (1988). The New York Court of Appeals stated that "[s]o long as the quantity is sufficient to permit proper identification as a controlled substance, amount is immaterial." The prosecutors must therefore establish that there was any amount of a controlled substance present, even if the amount was insufficient for sale or use, like residue in a crack pipe.


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New York Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance - 5th Degree

Class D Felony (§ 220.06)

Unlike a 7th degree misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Fifth Degree is a felony defines the drug type and circumstances of the arrest. The individual must knowingly and unlawfully possess:

  1. A controlled substance with intent to sell; or
  2. one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing a narcotic preparation and said preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of one-half ounce or more; or
  3. fifty milligrams or more of phencyclidine; or
  4. one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing concentrated cannabis (as described in the Public Health Law) and said preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of one-fourth ounce or more; or
  5. 500 milligrams or more of cocaine (this is pure weight, not aggregate weight); or
  6. more than 1000 milligrams of ketamine; or
  7. ketamine, and has previously been convicted of possession of ketamine in any amount; or
  8. one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing gamma hydroxybutyric acid (as described in the Public Health Law) and said preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of twenty-eight grams or more.

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New York Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance - 4th Degree

Class C Felony (§ 220.09)

Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Fourth Degree is a felony which also defines the drug type and circumstances of the arrest. The individual must knowingly and unlawfully possess:

  1. one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing a narcotic drug and said preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of one-eighth ounce or more; or
  2. one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing methamphetamine, its salts, isomers or salts of isomers and said preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of one-half ounce or more; or
  3. one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing a narcotic preparation and said preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of two ounces or more; or
  4. one gram or more of a stimulant; or
  5. one milligram or more of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD); or
  6. twenty-five milligrams or more of a hallucinogen; or
  7. one gram or more of a hallucinogenic substance; or
  8. ten ounces or more of a dangerous depressant; or
  9. two pounds or more of a depressant; or
  10. one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing concentrated cannabis (as described in the Public Health Law) and said preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of one ounce or more; or
  11. two hundred fifty milligrams or more of phencyclidine; or
  12. three hundred sixty milligrams or more of methadone; or
  13. fifty milligrams or more of phencyclidine with intent to sell it and has previously been convicted of an offense defined in this article or conspiracy to commit such offense; or
  14. four thousand milligrams or more of ketamine; or
  15. one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing gamma hydroxybutyric acid (as described in the Public Health Law) and said preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of two hundred grams or more.

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New York Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance - 3rd Degree

Class B Felony (§ 220.16)

Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree is a felony and defines the drug type and circumstances of the arrest. The individual must knowingly and unlawfully possess:

  1. A narcotic drug with intent to sell; or
  2. a stimulant, hallucinogen, hallucinogenic substance, or lysergic acid diethylamide, with intent to sell it, along with a previous drug offense conviction or the attempt or conspiracy to commit said offense; or
  3. one gram or more of a stimulant with intent to sell it; or
  4. one milligram or more of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) with intent to sell it; or
  5. twenty-five milligrams or more of a hallucinogen with intent to sell it; or
  6. one gram or more of a hallucinogenic substance with intent to sell it; or
  7. one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing methamphetamine, its salts, isomers or salts of isomers with intent to sell it and said preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of one-eighth ounce or more; or
  8. five grams or more of a stimulant; or
  9. five milligrams or more of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD); or
  10. one hundred twenty-five milligrams or more of a hallucinogen; or
  11. five grams or more of a hallucinogenic substance; or
  12. one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing a narcotic drug and said preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of one-half ounce or more; or
  13. one thousand two hundred fifty milligrams or more of phencyclidine (PCP).

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New York Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance - 2nd Degree

Class A-II Felony (§ 220.18)

Second degree felonies can carry heavy penalties, including up to 10 years in prison. An individual is guilty of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 2nd Degree when he or she knowingly and unlawfully possesses:

  1. One or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing a narcotic drug and said preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of four ounces or more; or
  2. one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing methamphetamine, its salts, isomers or salts of isomers and said preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of two ounces or more; or
  3. ten grams or more of a stimulant ; or
  4. twenty-five milligrams or more of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD); or
  5. six hundred twenty-five milligrams or more of a hallucinogen; or
  6. twenty-five grams or more of a hallucinogenic substance; or
  7. two thousand eight hundred eighty milligrams or more of methadone.

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Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance - 1st Degree

Class A-I Felony (§ 220.21)

In New York, 1st degree convictions for criminal possession of a controlled substance can carry up to 20 years of prison time. An individual is guilty of Criminal Possession of Controlled Substance in the First Degree when he or she knowingly and unlawfully possesses:

  1. one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing a narcotic drug and said preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of eight ounces or more; or
  2. five thousand seven hundred sixty milligrams or more of methadone.

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Resources for Narcotics and Drug Crimes in New York

Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York - After the 1970's heroin epidemic hit New York City, the Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor for New York City (OSNP) was formed under the Judiciary Laws for the State of New York to investigate and prosecute narcotics felonies including both street level crime and large-scale drug trafficking. In response, New York City's five District Attorneys selected a Special Narcotics Prosecutor to investigate major drug trafficking crimes in Queens, Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island.

The OSNP works with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies including the Port Authority Police, New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, NYPD’s Manhattan Gang Unit, NYPD’s Narcotics Division in all five boroughs, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Patrol Bureau and Organized Crime Investigation Division, and the OSNP's investigators.

Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor
80 Centre Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 815-0400

OSPN's web site includes information on New York City's Narcotics Gang Unit, and the Alternative Sentencing Division. Also find out more about New York City's Special Investigations Bureau, established in 1982, which leads the country in handling more wiretap and electronic surveillance operations. New York City's SIB targets and prosecutes money laundering groups, international narcotics organizations, and narcotics gangs. In 2010 alone, SIB investigations lead to the seizure of hundreds of pounds of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana targeting both "kingpins" and international drug traffickers.

The SIB's New York "Narcotics Gang Unit" works with the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, and the Narcotics Division for the New York Police Departments (NYPD) including the REDRUM unit which investigates narcotics-related homicides. The SIB's New York Asset Forfeiture Unit was formed in 1985 to target illegal narcotics proceeds and to institute civil forfeiture actions including car, automobiles, and other vehicles, as well as bank accounts, money and currency, jewelry, and other valuable assets considered to be the "fruits of the crime."

New York Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement - The New York Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE) was created to protect the public by preventing prescription drug abuse through information presented to educators, health-care professionals and parents. The BNE also works to combat the trafficking and illegal use of prescription medication and controlled substances. The Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement oversees millions of secure Official New York State Prescriptions each year to nearly 100,000 licensed practitioners across the State of New York. BNE regulates prescription medication through creating various licenses to nursing homes, hospitals, manufacturers, researchers and distributors.

The investigators for the New York Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement investigate illegal sales and possible drug diversions involving forgery, theft and suspected "doctor shopping"when it is determined that an individual makes numerous visits to different practitioners to obtain prescriptions. The BNE investigators work closely with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the State of New York. See also Prescription Drug Prices in New York State. The Bureau also attempts to prevent prescription drug abuse by providing educational materials and presentations for parents, educators, and health-care professionals.

Greater New York Region of Narcotics Anonymous Web Site - New York's drug abuse chapter of N.A. provides help to men and women who desire to stop using drugs and recover from drug addiction. This web site has resources for men and women in New York City who are suffering from a drug problem and seeking assistance for their addiction. Help line phone numbers are also included on the web site for all areas in the Eastern New York Region of Narcotics Anonymous, including Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, Nassau County, Suffolk County and Manhattan.

Drug Reform in New York - The Drug Policy Alliance works to promote sensible drug policies and to build a movement to end the drug war in New York City. You can find information on the failed drug war, Rockefeller Drug Laws, drug overdose statistics, marijuana arrests in NYC, and reducing racial disparities and selective enforcement of drug laws.

Drug Crimes in New York City - Article from the New York High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis published by the National Drug Intelligence Center for the United States Justice Department. The articles links drug crimes to street gangs such as MS 13, the Latin Kings, and the Bloods and cites statistics for the dramatic increase in gang-related incidents according to the New York Police Department (NYPD).


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The Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner | New York Drug and Narcotics Defense Lawyer

Men, women and minors can be seriously affected by a drug or narcotics conviction. It can even potentially affect future employment and housing options.

With more than two decades of experience, including 14 years as a criminal prosecutor, Rochelle Berliner understands the strategies unique to a drug or narcotics case. Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner represents clients in the five boroughs of New York, including Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Staten Island.

Our Queens criminal defense attorney will use her knowledge to build a solid defense for your case and aggressively fight for your future. Contact her office today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 718-261-5600 or submit an online form.

Free Consultation

Submit your information using this form to schedule a free consultation with attorney Rochelle Berliner.

Name* Phone* Email* Subject* Message*

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Legal Committee

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