Knowingly Having an Illegal Substance in Your Possession
What Is Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree?
This charge is the lowest level of drug possession crime in New York State. Typically, you will be charged with seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance if you have small amounts of drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, or heroin.
When the Charge of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree Applies
You can be charged with seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance if you have even small amounts of drugs: half a gram of cocaine or crack cocaine, half an ounce of methamphetamine, 25mg of ecstasy, an eighth of an ounce of heroin, 5mg of LSD, 50mg of PCP, or a gram of ketamine. This is not an inclusive list; in fact, New York State prosecutors have charged people for possessing Xanax without a prescription and, in one instance, for having a single oxycodone pill and a tiny amount of cocaine residue.
Because New York State lawmakers have tried to encourage drug users to seek treatment, the statue explicitly allows for two exceptions: first, when the controlled substance is residual and is on a syringe from a legal exchange program; and second, when the substance is found in the course of seeking medical care for a drug overdose. However, any other possession of a drug, no matter how small the amount, can be charged under this law.
NY PENAL § 220.03: Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree
New York’s penal code states:
A person is guilty of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree when he or she knowingly and unlawfully possesses a controlled substance; provided, however, that it shall not be a violation of this section when a person possesses a residual amount of a controlled substance and that residual amount is in or on a hypodermic syringe or hypodermic needle obtained and possessed pursuant to section thirty-three hundred eighty-one of the public health law, which includes the state’s syringe exchange and pharmacy and medical provider-based expanded syringe access programs; nor shall it be a violation of this section when a person’s unlawful possession of a controlled substance is discovered as a result of seeking immediate health care as defined in paragraph (b) of subdivision three of section 220.78 of the penal law, for either another person or him or herself because such person is experiencing a drug or alcohol overdose or other life threatening medical emergency as defined in paragraph (a) of subdivision three of section 220.78 of the penal law.
Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree is a class A misdemeanor.
What Can Happen to Me If I Am Convicted of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree?
Although this charge is not a felony, it is the highest degree of a misdemeanor and you should take it seriously. If convicted, you can spend up to a year in jail or be fined up to $1,000, and there may be long-term consequences for your ability to find employment or your immigration status. Therefore, it is important that, if you are charged on Long Island, you consult an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. There are many effective strategies to defend against a charge of seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance, such as challenging the basis for your arrest, and your attorney will be able to advise you about New York State’s drug treatment possibilities for criminal offenders. Your Long Island criminal defense lawyer will know how to secure the best outcome for you.
What Should I Do Next?
If you are charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh-degree in Queens, Nassau, or Suffolk County, take the charge seriously. Do not attempt to “clear things up” with the police or prosecutors. Hire a Long Island criminal defense lawyer immediately and let him talk to the authorities on your behalf. He has the knowledge and experience to effectively represent you and to make sure that any impact on your life is minimal.