New York drug crime statutes are notoriously harsh. They stipulate a range of serious penalties, from incarceration to high-priced fines and more, in the event of a conviction.
Whether you are facing drug crime charges for the first or another time, it’s crucial to know that:
- Prosecutors will aggressively pursue conviction: Their reputations can depend, at least in part, on being tough on drug crimes and maintaining high conviction rates. That’s usually why they’ll be ready to push for the most severe charges and penalties whenever possible.
- There can be many ways to fight drug crime charges: As heavy and serious as drug crime charges in Westchester County are, there can be a number of ways to poke holes in the prosecution’s cases. Procedural errors made during the investigation, arrest, and after are just a few ways to challenge prosecutors’ arguments and try to weaken their case.
- The sooner you retain an attorney, the better: The strength and success of your defense case can depend on the attorney you have going forward. When a lawyer is involved early on, (s)he can provide crucial advice while helping the accused protect their rights when dealing with police, appearing for initial hearings in court, and building their case. This can make a big difference in setting drug crime defense cases up for more favorable resolutions.
When drug crime charges in Westchester County put your freedom and future on the line, you can count on Mamaroneck Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael J. Borrelli. He has experience as a former prosecutor and first-hand knowledge of how they build their drug crime cases. That makes him highly effective at countering their strategies and building strong defense cases for an array of misdemeanor and felony drug charges in Westchester County, NY.
Don’t hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Michael J. Borrelli for a free consultation when you need helpful, confidential advice about your rights in a potential or existing drug crimes case.
Until then, explore the information and links below for more about drug crime charges and penalties in Westchester County and New York.
Drug trafficking charges can be filed when there is reasonable evidence to suspect the manufacture, cultivation, distribution, or sale of an illegal drug. Depending on the circumstances involved, drug trafficking charges can be filed as major felonies or federal charges.
As with any drug crime charges, some of the key factors that can impact the level and severity of the charges filed for alleged drug trafficking include:
- The type of drug involved: Illicit drugs and controlled substances are classified by drug “Schedule.” Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous and lethal. As such, it can take far smaller amounts of Schedule I drugs (when compared to Schedule B drugs) to raise serious felony charges and potential penalties.
- The amount of the drug: Greater amounts of any illicit drug or controlled substance will generally result in more severe drug trafficking charges.
- Whether the accused individual has any priors: Previous drug convictions also raise the stakes in subsequent drug trafficking cases, usually leading to more serious felony or federal charges.
- Whether aggravating factors are involved: These factors can include other crimes, as well as injuries or deaths occurring in the commission of the alleged offense. When aggravating factors are involved, again, the charges and potential penalties in drug trafficking cases will intensify. In the most serious cases, prosecutors can seek life imprisonment.
Regardless of whether drug trafficking charges are filed at the state or federal level, they create high-stakes cases that demand a strong defense.
Like any drug crime charges, being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be enough to put someone in the crosshairs of drug possession charges. As serious as these allegations can be, prosecutors will need to prove both control and intent for drug possession charges to hold water.
Specifically, this means that prosecutors need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused intended to possess the drug involved. Establishing that someone was aware of possessing a drug can be tricky, especially if the substance is found on property not owned or accessible to the accused.
Mamaroneck Drug Crimes Lawyer Michael J. Borrelli defends clients against all types of possession charges, including (but not limited to) allegedly possessing:
- Schedule I drugs: Examples include heroin, ecstasy, and methaqualone.
- Schedule II drugs: Cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, Adderall, and oxycodone are all examples of this class of illegal narcotics.
- Schedule III drugs: This class of drugs can include Tylenol with codeine (less than 90 g/dose) and ketamine.
- Schedule IV drugs: Ativan, Darvon, Ambien, Soma, and Xanax all belong to this drug schedule.
- Schedule V drugs: These narcotics usually include analgesics and antitussive drugs, like cough medicines containing codeine (less than 200 mg/dose).
Drug Sales & Drug Distribution
Drug possession with intent to sell or distribute tends to carry much harsher charges than simple possession alone. Typically, drug distribution charges are filed in Westchester County when:
- Large amounts of illicit drugs or controlled substances are found: Where and how these narcotics are found matters to drug distribution defense cases. If the search that resulted in the discovery of the drugs
- Other supplies are also discovered: This can include scales, baggies, and/or even large amounts of cash, which could indicate the narcotics were being weighed and repackaged for sale and distribution.
Regardless of the type and amount of drug found, drug distribution charges are almost always charged as felonies. First-time drug distribution offenses are generally filed as fifth to first degree felonies, depending on the circumstances involved. That can mean anywhere from 1 to 20 years of incarceration in the event of a conviction.
While social attitudes around marijuana have relaxed some, it’s important to remember that criminal marijuana offenses can still carry some severe penalties. In fact, although New York’s criminal laws regarding marijuana possession have been updated over recent years to allow for medical marijuana use (in distinct circumstances), many criminal charges and penalties for marijuana offenses remain on the books. This includes charges of:
- Marijuana possession: Possessing less than two ounces of marijuana can be considered a civil violation, resulting in fines between $50 and $200 with no jail time. When the allegations involve possession of more than 2 ounces, criminal charges will kick in, putting the potential for incarceration on the table (in the event of conviction).
- Marijuana distribution: When no payment has been exchanged for allegedly distributing marijuana (less than 2 ounces), the charges will usually be misdemeanors for first offenses. As the amount of the drug increases—or if marijuana has been sold to a minor, the charges will be much more severe.
Westchester County, NY, Drug Crime Charges: FAQs
At the Law Offices of Michael J. Borrelli, we know that drug crime charges can raise important questions for the accused. Getting answers to those questions can be pivotal to structuring a strong defense while helping the accused set realistic expectations about their case. To that end, here are some useful FAQs about New York drug crime charges and cases.
When Is Drug Treatment Considered an Alternative to Jail or Prison in New York Drug Crimes Cases?
Drug treatment can be a viable alternative sentence in certain drug crimes cases, including (but not limited to) those involving:
- A first-time offender: Individuals without prior drug convictions can have better chances of seeking treatment as an alternative to incarceration, especially when the defense case can demonstrate factors like mental health or addiction issues that could be better addressed with treatment, rather than jail or prison.
- Nonviolent offenses: Drug cases that involve any form of violence will typically not be considered for alternative sentencing. This is true no matter what level of felony charges are involved in the case.
- Lower level felony charges: As felony drug charges get less serious, the possibility of alternative sentencing can become more viable.
Those who do qualify for alternative sentencing will have to comply with and complete all of the terms of their treatment program, as part of their probation. Failing to do so can constitute a probation violation and result in the reinstatement of a suspended jail or prison sentence.
Are There Minimum Mandatory Sentences for Drug Crimes in New York?
Mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines will not come into play for drug charges filed at the state level because New York eliminated these over a decade ago. However, the story is different for federal drug crime charges. Mandatory minimum sentencing can and does come into play in those cases, and that can impact how a defense case is structured.
What Are Some Effective Defenses Against Drug Crime Charges?
Depending on the facts and evidence in a given drug case, there may be various options for defending against the charges. Some possibilities include arguing that:
- Procedural errors were made: This can include errors made by law enforcement at any point during an investigation, arrest, interrogation, and beyond. It can also involve errors in how the accused and/or the evidence was handled at any point during the investigation.
- The drugs did not belong to the accused: Just because drugs may have been legally found in the course of a traffic stop or a police investigation does not mean those drugs belonged to the individual accused of a crime.
- The rights of the accused were violated: Anyone accused of a drug offense in Westchester County will have the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, as well as the rights to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and more. Violations of these rights could compromise prosecutors’ drug crimes cases.
With drug crimes (like any criminal offense), it’s up to the prosecution to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. That puts the burden of proof on the prosecutor, not the defense. And it means that a good defense can include creating enough doubt about the charges and the alleged guilt of the accused individual.
Don’t Face Drug Charges Alone: Contact Westchester County Drug Crimes Lawyer Michael J. Borrelli
If you or a loved one has been charged with any type of drug crime, contact Westchester County Drug Crimes Lawyer Michael J. Borrelli for strategic, superior defense representation.
Call (914) 825-8620 or contact us online for a FREE, confidential consultation. We offer consultations 24/7.
With more than 25 years of criminal law experience, Attorney Borrelli has handled tens of thousands of drug and other criminal cases of varying degrees. Over that time, he has maintained a near-perfect success rate in more than 40 felony criminal trials while earning a reputation as a fierce advocate for his clients.
Beyond his professional credentials, Westchester County Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Borrelli is dedicated to helping people just like you. He is proud to offer client-focused service, so you are never confused, anxious, or under pressure when it’s time to go to court. That can provide priceless peace of mind and confidence that you have the representation you need and deserve—and that you have optimal chances of securing favorable, efficient resolutions.
Find out your best defense options against drug charges now in a FREE consultation.