Criminal Sale in the Fifth Degree of a Controlled Substance: New York Penal Code § 220.31

Criminal sale in the fifth degree of a controlled substance is the least serious of the crimes related to the sale of drugs, but it is still a felony. Under NY Penal Code § 220.31, a person has committed this crime if knowingly and unlawfully the person has sold a controlled substance. There is no minimum weight of drugs required with this felony. The prosecuting attorney can resort to this section of the law if the amount of drugs in question is not enough to trigger the other criminal sale of a controlled substance laws.

Hypothetical Case

Suppose two police officers observed two men in the train station. They saw one man handing the other man a small vial and receiving cash from the other in return. Upon questioning, and seizing the small vial, they saw that it contained a small amount of cocaine. Because the amount of cocaine was very little, the first man was charged with criminal sale in the fifth degree of the sale of a controlled substance.

Possible Defenses

Lack of probable cause. In the State of New York, probable cause is required in order to conduct a search of a person, their car, apartment, or office. Law enforcement officials must have reason to believe that a person has committed a crime or violated the law to invoke probable cause. If the methods used by the authorities in the case above violated the person’s rights or if conditions for probable cause were not present, then drugs found while intending to enforce the law may not be admitted as evidence in a court of law. In the example above, probable cause may be inferred because the officers observed the exchange of the vial of cocaine for cash.

The transaction was not an attempted or actual sales transaction. If the defendant can argue convincingly and support the notion that the exchange was not an attempted or actual sales transaction, then an acquittal may be attainable.

Other lines of defense. Through careful examination of the testimony of the accused and the officers, along with the circumstances and the facts of the case, an astute and experienced defense lawyer may be able to uncover alternate defensive tactics to help protect the client.

Possible Sentence

If found guilty, to arrive at the appropriate sentence, the presiding judge will weigh the convicted person’s personal history, presence or absence of a criminal record, as well as various facets of the the crime committed and the case details.

Imprisonment. A person convicted of criminal sale in the fifth degree of a controlled substance faces Class D felony sentencing. The maximum time in prison for this crime is seventeen years.

Monetary fine. The convicted person may be required to pay a fine on top of the prison sentence.

Probation. The court may also decide to impose a five-year probation term after serving the prison sentence.

NY Penal Code § 220.31: Criminal Sale in the Fifth Degree of a Controlled Substance

To reiterate, criminal sale in the fifth degree of a controlled substance is a chargeable offense when a person sells a controlled substance knowingly and unlawfully.

Attorney to Defend Against the Charge of Criminal Sale in the Fifth Degree of a Controlled Substance

Criminal sale in the fifth degree of a controlled substance is a Class D felony. If you are charged with committing a controlled substance offense, you must immediately contact an experienced and reliable defense attorney to fend off prosecution that could lead to imprisonment, expensive fines and probation.

Elliott Adler PC is an effective law firm that will capably advocate on behalf of individuals charged with criminal sale in the fifth degree of a controlled substance. The Elliot Adler PC law firm has successfully represented clients who have been charged with felony and misdemeanor crimes related to controlled substances and drugs in New York. The firm builds effective defensive tactics to ward off charges of drug sales, possession, manufacturing, and distribution. The Elliot Adler PC attorney firm has fought on behalf of clients who have been accused of drug crimes, including the sale or possession of marijuana, cocaine, crack, and other controlled substances, as well as other drug crimes.

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 possession in the fifth degree of a controlled substance: § 220.06
  2. Criminal sale in or near school grounds of a controlled substance: § 220.44