Criminal Possession in the Third Degree of a Controlled Substance: New York Penal Code § 220.16

Criminal possession in the third degree of a controlled substance is one of several drug possession charges in the Penal Code of New York. However, the intent to sell the controlled substances is one attribute that differentiates this code from seventh, fifth and fourth degree levels of criminal possession of a controlled substance. The intent to sell is not necessary for prosecution under this section of the law if the quantity in possession meets a specified amount or weight. Also, the controlled substances do not need to be on the person; they may be found in the person’s car, home or other location under a person’s control, such as their place of work. The person facing charges must have known about the whereabouts of the controlled substances to be prosecuted under Penal Code 220.16.

Hypothetical Case

Suppose a person is pulled over for excessive speeding. The police officer discovered that the man was driving even though his license was suspended. Moreover, the man had several outstanding traffic tickets. When the police officer searched the man’s car, he found several packets of methamphetamines. If the amount of methamphetamines in the man’s possession meets specific weight requirements, he may be charged with criminal possession in the third degree of a controlled substance.

Possible Defenses

Lack of probable cause. New York law requires that before a search takes place, there must be probable cause. Probable cause means that the authorities must have reason to suspect that a person has committed a crime. If the methods used by the police to find controlled substances were in violation of a person’s rights or was obtained without due process and without probable cause, any drugs obtained thereto would not be admissible evidence in a court of law. 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 have committed a crime. If the police pull you over and find controlled substances on your person or in your car, but had no reason to suspect that a crime had been committed or any traffic laws had been broken, the prosecuting attorney would not be able to use any controlled substance as evidence and therefore would have no grounds to bring the case to court.

Quantity of controlled substance is insufficient. If the defendant can demonstrate unequivocally that the quantity of the controlled substance was less than the required statutory amount under this statute, then the defendant can argue for a lesser charge if the controlled substance is admitted as evidence.

Other lines of defense. A defense attorney who is well-versed in New York’s controlled substance laws would be a strong advocate for a defendant who faces charges of possession. After thoughtful examination of the evidence and with a keen understanding of the law and the legal system, a highly competent defense attorney would be able to structure a viable plan to serve the best interests of the client.

Possible Sentence

Imprisonment. A person convicted of criminal possession in the third degree of a controlled substance faces a Class B felony penalty which carries a prison sentence of up to twenty-five years. If the convicted has no prior criminal history, the sentence is a minimum of five years behind bars, but if the convicted had a prior criminal history, then the sentence is a minimum of ten years behind bars. The judge will consider details of the crime and the background of the convicted person to determine an appropriate punishment allowed by law.

Monetary fine. In addition to imprisonment, the convicted person may be required to pay up to $30,000 as a part of the sentence.

NY Penal Code § 220.16: Criminal Possession in the Third Degree of a Controlled Substance

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

  1. A narcotic drug with the intent to sell it; or
  2. A hallucinogen, hallucinogenic substance, lysergic acid diethylamide, or a stimulant with an intent to sell it, coupled with having a previous conviction for offenses described in article 220 or the attempt or conspiracy to commit offenses described in article 220; or
  3. At least one gram of a stimulant with an intent to sell it; or
  4. At least one milligram of lysergic acid diethylamide with an intent to sell it; or
  5. At least 25 milligrams of a hallucinogen with an intent to sell it; or
  6. At least one gram of a hallucinogenic substance with an intent to sell it; or
  7. At least 1/8 ounce of substance, mixtures, compounds, or preparations containing methamphetamine, its isomers or salts of isomers, or salts with an intent to sell it; or
  8. At least five grams of a stimulant; or
  9. At least five milligrams of lysergic acid diethylamide; or
  10. At least 125 milligrams of a hallucinogen; or
  11. At least five grams of a hallucinogen; or
  12. At least 1/2 ounce of substances, mixtures, compounds, or preparations containing a narcotic drug; or
  13. At least 1,250 milligrams of phencyclidine.
Criminal Possession in the Third Degree of a Controlled Substance Lawyer

Criminal possession in the third degree of a controlled substance is a felony. If you are charged with possessing a controlled substance, you must immediately contact a highly qualified defense attorney to avoid imprisonment and steep fines. Your future and your reputation may be in jeopardy.

Elliott Adler PC is an ardent advocate for individuals charged with controlled substance and drug offenses. The Elliot Adler PC law firm has successfully defended clients accused of misdemeanor and felony controlled substance and drug crimes in New York, building strategic defenses to dispute charges of drug possession, manufacturing and distribution offenses. The Elliot Adler PC attorney firm imposes the will of the law to defend individuals charged with criminal possession in the third 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 hypodermic instrument possession: § 220.45
  3. Criminal sale in the third degree of a controlled substance: § 220.39