New York Drug Offenses: Defining Crimes Of Sale & Possession

How are the crimes of sale and possession defined in New York? To find out, we asked Elliot Schlissel, a Long Island criminal law attorney whose firm represents individuals charged with criminal matters in Nassau and Suffolk counties and in the New York metropolitan area. Here's what he told us:

NY drug possession vs. NY drug sale

Possession crimes have lesser penalties than sales crimes in New York, according to Schlissel. He explained, “Often, someone will acquire drugs and then give them to a friend or sell a small amount to a friend without realizing that giving or selling the drug is a much more serious crime than just possessing it.”

What many New Yorkers don't realize is that criminal matters tend to be more vigorously prosecuted in the Long Island suburbs than they are in the city. Schlissel explained how the system works in general:

If you are arrested for possession of a drug of a substantial weight, in order to obtain a plea bargain it is sometimes necessary for you to cooperate with the police or the prosecutor’s office by providing them with information to secure criminal prosecution of someone higher up in the structure of the drug dealing. This is very often what is done by individuals who are caught by narcotics agents or 'narcs,' as they are known on the street.

Common New York drug offenses changing

chlissel's practice handles all types of drug cases – everything from possession of small amounts of marijuana to selling hard drugs. Although possession and sale of marijuana has always been one the most common drug offenses, he says that arrests for other drugs, such as cocaine, heroin and pharmaceutical drugs are quickly becoming just as common. He explained:

We represent individuals charged with cocaine and heroin possession as well as individuals charged with the sale of cocaine and heroin, which used to have extremely severe penalties under what were called “The Rockefeller Drug Laws,” which were in effect in New York for decades. The penalties have recently been reduced. There is a divergence of the penalties between what are called hard drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, and soft drugs such as marijuana.

There are also criminal penalties for the unauthorized possession and sale of various types of pills. Some of these are pharmaceutically made drugs and some are produced in illegal laboratories. In fact, we have had cases involving Vicodin, Oxycontin and Percocet.

If you've been arrested on a New York drug charge, contact an experienced New York criminal law lawyer to discuss your situation and evaluate your options.