The feeling of cold metal surrounds your wrists, and you feel as though you are dreaming. Unfortunately, the sound of a police officer reading your Miranda rights, coupled with the red and blue flashing lights in the background, tell you otherwise. Unfortunately, you are being arrested for an alleged drug crime -- your worst nightmare.
To make your situation worse, your arrest is taking place in New York -- a state that is known to have some of the most stringent drug laws across the United States. Here is a glimpse at what you need to know if police arrest you for drug distribution, manufacturing or trafficking:
New York drug law classifications
If you ultimately receive a conviction for selling a drug in New York, this is a felony conviction. New York drug laws classify well-known drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, as well as the compounds used in manufacturing them. One of the things that makes the state's drug laws so complex is that there are several categories under which a specific crime may qualify.
The most minor offense related to drug sales is a fifth-degree sale. For this offense, prosecutors have to prove that you illegally sold a drug with the understanding that it was a controlled substance. Prosecutors have to also prove that you specifically intended to transfer the illegal drug and were able to achieve this.
However, for all of the different drug sale offense degree levels, prosecutors do not necessarily have to prove that you knew about the particular quantity of the controlled substance sold. Likewise, you do not have to actually deliver a drug or physically possess an illegal drug to receive a conviction. Merely offering or agreeing to sell a controlled substance might be enough for the prosecution to prove your intent as well as to prove that you were able to commit the crime.
What penalties could you potentially face?
Punishments for drug convictions in New York range in severity from a fifth-degree level to a first-degree level. The former could result in a prison sentence of one to two-and-a-half years. Meanwhile, a first-degree conviction may result in between eight and 20 years behind bars if you qualify as a non-major drug trafficker, between 12 and 20 years if you are a felony drug offender for the second time, and between 15 years and life in prison if you are a major drug trafficker.
Where can you turn for help?
In the aftermath of facing any type of drug-related criminal allegations, you are most likely worried about the potential life-long impact that could ultimately result from a conviction, and you are probably attempting to determine your best course of action. Fortunately, there are resources available to you during these trying times. An experienced criminal defense attorney can carefully analyze the circumstances of your specific case to determine the best possible defense strategy aimed at mitigated the charges against you.