New York Drug Distribution,Trafficking, and Manufacturing Laws
Overview of New York Drug Distribution and Trafficking Laws
Article 220 of the New York Penal Code enumerates offenses related to the possession, sale and manufacture of controlled substances. The law criminalizes the sale of controlled substances falling into the following seven categories: narcotic drugs, narcotic preparations, hallucinogens, hallucinogenic substances, stimulants, dangerous depressants, and depressants. The specific controlled substances prohibited by the law are listed in New York Public Health Law Section 3306.
New York generally treats the sale of drugs as a graver offense than mere possession. There are five degrees of sale of a controlled substance. Factors that affect the seriousness of a conviction for the sale of a controlled substance include the type of substance sold, the quantity of the substance, the purity of the substance, whether the sale took place in or near school grounds, and whether the defendant was formerly convicted of an Article 220 offense.
To prove a defendant guilty of fifth-degree sale of a controlled substance - the least of such offenses - the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the unlawful sale of a controlled substance by the defendant with knowledge that the substance sold was a controlled substance. In addition, the prosecution must prove the defendant's specific intent to transfer the substance that was the subject of the offer or agreement, and his or her present ability to do so. This specific intent may be proved by circumstances such as the terms of the offer, prior drug dealing by the defendant, his or her effort to obtain drugs, and, if the transfer was aborted, the reason it did not occur. However, for all degrees of the offense, the prosecution need not prove the defendant's knowledge of the specific quantity of controlled substance sold. Nor is the defendant's physical possession of the controlled substance or actual delivery required to secure a conviction - simply making an offer or agreement to sell may be sufficient to prove his or her intent and present ability to commit the offense.
- Example: Billy approached Margaret, an undercover officer, and offered to sell her "mesc," the street name for lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). When Margaret asked to see a sample, Billy said he would return with one in five minutes and returned soon after with the sample. The prosecution would probably have sufficient evidence to convict Billy of sale of a controlled substance.
New York also criminalizes the knowing and unlawful sale of a controlled substance to a child less than 17 years of age or to any person in or near school grounds, a school bus, child daycare center or education facility - including sidewalks, streets, parking lots, parks, playgrounds, stores and restaurants within 1,000 feet of such property - as well as the knowing and unlawful sale of a prescription for a controlled substance by a practitioner other than in good faith in the course of his professional practice.
Understandably, the state regards "operating as a major drug trafficker" as an even graver crime. Section 220.77 of the Penal Code identifies three types of persons as major traffickers: (1) one who acts as a director of a controlled substance organization during any one-year period, wherein the organization sells at least one controlled substance and the proceeds from the sale(s) total $75,000 or more; (2) a profiteer who knowingly and unlawfully sells a narcotic drug at least once within six months and yields a profit of $75,000 or more; and (3) a profiteer who knowingly and unlawfully possesses a narcotic drug and intends to sell the same at least once within six months, which drug(s) have a total value of $75,000 or more.
- Lack of intent
- Lack of knowledge
- Possession for personal use
- Infancy (for persons less than 16 years old)
Penalties and Sentences
New York classifies all convictions for the sale of a controlled substance as felonies. The convictions range in level from fifth-degree - punishable by 1 to 2.5 years in prison for first-time offenders - to first-degree - punishable by a minimum of 8 to 20 years in prison for non-major drug traffickers, followed by a 5-year period of post-release supervision; or at least 12 to 20 years in prison for second felony drug offenders; or at least 15 years in prison with a maximum term of life imprisonment for major drug traffickers.
Fines imposed on felony offenders range from a minimum of $5,000 or double the defendant's gain from commission of the sale, to $100,000 for persons convicted of either first-degree sale of a controlled substance or operating as a major drug trafficker.
Controlled Substances Offenses
Penal Code Article 220
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.