Criminal Possession in the Fourth Degree of a Controlled Substance: New York Penal Code § 220.09

Criminal possession in the fourth degree of a controlled substance is one of several drug possession charges in the Penal Code of New York. The prohibited controlled drugs include gamma hydroxybutyric acid; phencyclidine; ketamine; methadone; lysergic acid diethylamide, a hallucinogenic; methamphetamine, a stimulant; or narcotics. The amount of a particular controlled substance found in a person’s possession of a particular controlled substance determines the penal code that applies along with the associated penalties. If a person has in their possession less than the statute amounts required for criminal possession in the fourth degree of a controlled substance, the fifth or seventh degree of criminal possession may be invoked instead.

Hypothetical Case

Suppose a person was driving a vehicle that was extensively customized with chrome wheels and tail pipes, hydro lifts, fiberglass body with air vents, roll bar, and stabilizer bar. The person driving the custom car was not speeding, driving dangerously or breaking any traffic laws. However, the police officer thought that his customized car was suspicious and pulled the car over. The officer searched the car and found several vials of cocaine underneath the driver’s seat. The police officer arrested the driver and charged him with criminal possession of a controlled substance. However, since the driver was not breaking any laws when the police officer pulled him over, he could argue that there was not probable cause for the officer to pull him over and search his vehicle. If the the court decides that probable cause was not present when the officer pulled the driver over, the driver might escape prosecution. If probable cause was not present, then the officer’s pulling the driver over would be deemed unlawful and any controlled substance found would be inadmissible in any court of law.

Possible Defenses

Lack of probable cause. New York law requires that before a search takes place, probable cause must be present. Probable cause means that the police must have reason to believe that a person has committed a crime before escalating their actions; or before conducting a search, they must have authorization to search as evidenced by a search warrant. For example, the police may not stop you in your car if you are not violating any traffic laws or if there is no reason to believe that you were involved in criminal activity. If the police pull you over and find controlled substances in your car or on your person, but had no reason to suspect that a crime had been committed or any traffic laws had been broken previously, the prosecuting attorney would not have grounds to legally bring the case to court; in this case, breaking from protocol and not adhering to due process would compromise the prosecutor’s ability to bring charges.

Other lines of defense. An experienced defense attorney who is well-versed in controlled substance laws will sift through the evidence when determining which defensive approaches to pursue. After careful evaluation of the evidence, a savvy attorney can develop a plan to strongly advocate on behalf of the defendant.

Possible Sentence

Imprisonment. A person convicted of criminal possession in the fourth degree of a controlled substance faces a Class C felony penalty. The maximum sentence for imprisonment is fifteen years. If the convicted has no prior criminal history, the sentence could be as few as three and a half years or as many as seven years of imprisonment, depending on whether the convicted had a prior felony conviction.

Monetary fine. An additional fine of up to $15,000 may also be handed down.

NY Penal Code § 220.09: Criminal Possession in the Fourth Degree of a Controlled Substance

Criminal possession in the fourth degree of a controlled substance is when a culpable person unlawfully and knowingly is in possession of

  1. One-eighth ounce or more of one or more substances, mixtures, compounds, or preparations containing a narcotic drug; or
  2. One-half ounce or more of one or more substances, mixtures, compounds, or preparations containing methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of isomers; or
  3. Two ounces or more of one or more substances, mixtures, compounds, preparations containing a narcotic preparation; or
  4. One gram or more of a stimulant; or
  5. One milligram or more of lysergic acid diethylamide; or
  6. Twenty-five milligrams or more of a hallucinogen; or
  7. One gram or more of a hallucinogenic substance; or
  8. Ten ounces or more of a dangerous depressant; or
  9. Two pounds or more of a depressant; or
  10. One ounce or more of one or more substances, mixtures, compounds, preparations containing concentrated cannabis per Section 3302 of the public health law; or
  11. Two hundred fifty milligrams or more of phencyclidine; or
  12. Three hundred sixty milligrams or more of methadone; or
  13. Fifty milligrams or more of phencyclidine and the intent to sell the drug is evident plus a previous conviction of an offense or the attempt or conspiracy to commit such offense is evident; or
  14. Four thousand milligrams or more of ketamine; or
  15. Two hundred grams or more of substances, mixtures, compounds, preparations containing gamma hydroxybutyric acid as described in Section 3306 of the public health law.
Criminal Possession in the Fourth Degree of a Controlled Substance Lawyer

Criminal possession in the fourth degree of a controlled substance is a felony. If you are charged with possessing heroin, cocaine, or any other illegal drug or controlled substance, you should contact a reliable defense attorney immediately to make sure that you avail every opportunity to dismantle the charge and avoid a crippling prison sentence and substantial monetary fines. The prospect of spending many years in prison and having a drug conviction on your record permanently is, no question, an undesirable outcome.

Elliott Adler PC is a well-respected and forthright law firm that has a record of successfully defending clients accused of misdemeanor and felony controlled substance and drug crimes in New York state. The firm has staunch advocates for their clients in defense against charges of drug possession, manufacturing and distribution offenses. The Elliot Adler PC attorney firm imposes the will of the law to lay the foundation for a strong defensive posture for their clients facing charges of criminal possession in the fourth degree of a controlled substance.

We can be reached at (212) 785-1300 or http://www.newyorkcriminallawyer24-7.com to schedule a no-obligation, free legal consultative meeting to evaluate your case.

Related Offenses

For additional information, refer to the following sections of the New York Penal Code:

  1. Criminal narcotic drug injection: § 220.48
  2. Criminal sale in the fourth degree of a controlled substance: § 220.34
  3. Criminal hypodermic instrument possession: § 220.45