Drug Possession in New York

Author: Adam H. Rosenblum Esq. | Last Updated:

If you get pulled over in New York, you could be facing much more than a traffic ticket, fine, or car insurance hike. Some traffic offenses are considered full-blown crimes in NY and you could actually go to jail for committing them. The following information is designed to help you better understand some of the most common crimes that motorists are arrested for in New York and the penalties associated with each of them.

Possessing Drug Paraphernalia in a Car

Although most know this, it is worth mentioning: drug-related offenses that occur inside automobiles are full-scale crimes, not mere traffic violations. In New York, if you are caught with drug paraphernalia in your car, it will be presumed to be yours and you might even get arrested.

The obvious question is: What does the law consider drug paraphernalia?

Unlike other states, New York is actually rather specific about what amounts to drug paraphernalia. Under 220.50 of New York’s criminal code, diluents, dilutants, adulterants, mixing compounds commonly used to make narcotics, gelatin capsules, glassine envelopes, vials, other materials commonly used to package drugs, scales, balances, and other utensils designed to measure or make drugs are all considered to be “drug paraphernalia.”

However, simply having these items in your car will not usually give rise to an arrest or conviction.A police officer must have a reasonable believe that the totality of the circumstances suggested that you intended to use the items for the purpose of unlawfully using, preparing, making, or distributing drugs. In other words, simply having a scale in your car will not suffice for a conviction.

Ultimately, if you are convicted of using or possessing drug paraphernalia in your car, you can face a Class A misdemeanor charge. This means you could go to jail for up to 1 year and face a fine of $1,000.

Drug Possession & Possession of a Controlled Substance

As you might have suspected, having drugs in your car will also create a presumption that they are yours and could lead to an arrest for drug possession. A drug, or controlled substance, is considered to be anything that is listed on New York’s drug schedule and is classified as such. New York considers all the usual drugs as controlled substances in addition to certain prescription drugs and other items that are improperly used in order to attain a high.

Possession is loosely defined in the context of a car. As long as the item is considered inside the car, you are in possession of it. For example, if you get pulled over for running a red light and foolishly left a bag of marijuana on your back seat that the officer happens to see, he can seize it and arrest you for drug possession.

It is irrelevant whether the contraband was on your physical person, in the trunk or glove compartment, or lying on the seat. In each of these circumstances, NY law considers you to be in possession of the drugs.

The severity of your crime is directly related to the amount and type of drug you are found with.For instance, according to 220.21, if you are caught possessing 8 or more ounces of methadone, you can be charged with first degree possession, which amounts to an A-1 Class felony. However, under 220.09, if you are in possession of a small quantity of an illicit stimulant, you might only be charged with a Class C felony.

Lastly, if you only are found to be in possession of a small quantity of marijuana, you might only be facing misdemeanor charges. Make sure to check with an experienced NY criminal defense attorney to determine the severity and penalty of your specific drug possession charges.

New York’s Law of Presumption

New York law establishes a presumption that everyone in a vehicle where drugs or weapons are found is considered to be in possession of them. Accordingly, based on New York’s law of presumption, any person in the car can be considered in possession of the illicit materials.

This means you can be charged with drug possession or possessing drug paraphernalia simply because a friend of yours dropped a bag of cocaine in your car! Moreover, New York does not allow for your criminal record to be expunged, so a conviction could haunt you for the rest of your life and make getting a job extremely challenging.

Be sure that you are thoroughly aware of the items that passengers are bringing into your car and contact an experienced NY criminal defense attorney if you are ever charged with a driving related crime.

Selling Drugs From Your Car in NY

If you are caught selling drugs in your car, New York law will treat the transaction exactly the same as if you sold drugs on the street or anywhere else. Under 220.31, you can be guilty of the criminal sale of a controlled substance if you knowingly and unlawfully sell a controlled substance. Doing so is a Class D felony.

Remember, your car is not entitled to the same legal expectation of privacy as your home.Thus, make absolutely sure to avoid all forms of illegality even when your vehicle is parked.

Who Should You Contact?

If you or a loved one was recently charged with a driving related crime in NY, contact Rosenblum Law now. Our team consist of experienced criminal defense attorneys who will defend your constitutional rights and fight to have your charges reduced or dismissed. Call today: 888-883-5529.