New York Drug Charge Criminal Defense Lawyers

Santana Law Firm is a New York City criminal defense law firm representing people charged with felony and misdemeanor drug offenses. Our Manhattan and Bronx-based lawyers have helped hundreds of defendants resolve drug charges, avoid jail time, and secure not-guilty verdicts.

New York is known for having some of the toughest drug laws in the United States. Most NYS offenses involving controlled substances are felonies that come with serious prison time and large fines. At the federal level, drug crimes have mandatory minimum sentences ranging from 1 year to life in prison.

An average of 55,600 people are arrested on felony and misdemeanor drug charges in New York City each year. Arrests have decreased since the legalization of marijuana in March 2021, but drug charges continue to be some of the most common in New York State.

As former Brooklyn prosecutors, we saw hundreds of drug cases come across our desks. Now, as NYC’s leading criminal defense lawyers, we’re focused on helping people who have been unfairly caught up in New York’s criminal system. We understand the strategies your prosecutor will use because we’ve used them ourselves — and we know how to defend against them effectively.

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Types of Drug Charges in New York State

New York drug charges and potential sentences are established through the state penal code. State offenses typically involve the manufacture and possession of controlled substances.

Offenses include:

  • Possession of a controlled substance (NY Penal §§ 220.03 to 220.25)
  • Sale of a controlled substance (NY Penal §§ 220.31 to 220.44)
  • Sale of a controlled substance to a minor (NY Penal § 220.48)
  • Sale of a controlled substance in or near school grounds (NY Penal § 220.44)
  • Use of drug paraphernalia (NY Penal §§ 220.50 to 220.55)
  • Criminal injection of a narcotic drug (NY Penal § 220.46)
  • Unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine (NY Penal §§ 220.73 to 220.75)
  • Operating as a major trafficker (NY Penal § 220.77)

Depending on the severity of charges and whether you have an existing criminal record, these crimes may be violations, misdemeanors, or felonies. Felony convictions typically come with harsher penalties. Violations are technically not crimes, but they may carry a sentence of up to 15 days’ imprisonment.

Note that the NY Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act has made it legal to possess up to three ounces of marijuana and grow up to three cannabis plants at home as of March 2021.

Federal Drug Charges Carry Serious Penalties

At the federal level, drug offenses are established by the Controlled Substances Act and the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act. Generally, federal drug laws focus on the movement of controlled substances across state borders. You may also be charged with a federal drug crime if the alleged offense was performed on government property or a federal agent arrested you. These offenses are usually felonies that carry the most severe sentences.

Federal drug charges include:

Federal controlled substance offenses are often paired with additional charges, such as possession of illegal firearms, illegal border crossing, fraud, and conspiracy.

Federal Drug Schedule Classification

Federal statute classifies drugs into five schedules based on the likelihood of abuse and danger to society vs. potential medical benefits. Possessing, manufacturing, selling, and/or trafficking Schedule I drugs will trigger the most severe charges and sentences.

Schedule I — Includes heroin, LSD, ecstasy, MDMA, fentanyl, and marijuana

Schedule II — Includes cocaine, morphine, Ritalin, Vyvanse, oxycodone, and methamphetamine

Schedule III — Includes Vicodin, anabolic steroids, Ketamine, and Marinol

Schedule IV — Includes Ambien, Klonopin, and benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium

Schedule V — Includes Robitussin, Lyrica, and cough suppressants

Although New York law generally follows the federal guidelines, it is not an exact match. For example, marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, but it is legal in New York State for medical and recreational use.

Have You Been Charged With a Drug Crime?

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Potential Sentences and Penalties
for NYC Drug Charges

Penalties for drug charges can vary widely depending on whether you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor. Crimes may also be categorized into different classes that come with different sentences. For example, the penalty for possession of a controlled substance as a Class D felony is up to 1 year in prison. In contrast, the penalty for possession of a controlled substance as a Class C felony is 1 to 5.5 years in prison.

If you are convicted of a drug crime, you may face:

  • Incarceration in jail or federal/state prison
  • A life prison sentence for serious federal charges
    Life prison sentence
  • $100,000+ in fines and financial penalties
    $100k in fines
  • Probation
  • Deportation
  • Loss of rights, such as driving privileges

Possible Defenses to Drug Charges

Although being arrested on drug charges is extremely serious, you are not doomed. There is a defense to every criminal charge, especially if this is your first drug offense. The burden of proving your guilt rests with the prosecution; you just need to poke holes in their argument.

A skilled NYC criminal defense lawyer may use one of the following defenses against a controlled substance charge:

  • Lack of Intent
    Lack of Intent
  • Lack of Knowledge
    Lack of Knowledge
  • Possession for Personal Use
    Possession for Personal Use
  • Entrapment
  • Infancy (for individuals under 16 years old)
  • False Accusation
    False Accusation
  • Lack of Proof
    Lack of Proof
  • Prosecutorial Misconduct
    Prosecutorial Misconduct

Santana Law Firm

will help you minimize the repercussions of a drug charge or conviction and, if possible, get your charges dropped altogether.

What to Do if You’ve Been Charged with a Drug Crime

1Find an experienced NYC drug crime lawyer. Quite simply, it’s a bad idea to defend yourself against drug charges without the help of a lawyer. Contact a trusted lawyer as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected.
2Know your rights. Police cannot search your home, car, or person without probable cause or a warrant. If you believe you have been searched illegally, it may lead to dismissal of your charges.
3Remain silent about your case. Never speak to law enforcement without your lawyer present. Avoid venting about your case to friends and family or on social media.
4Don’t tamper with evidence. It may be tempting to dispose of potentially incriminating material, but it may harm you in the long run. Talk to your lawyer before doing anything with possible evidence.
5Stay calm. Your conduct in the courtroom matters. Stay calm and polite when dealing with judges and law enforcement.

NYC Leading Drug Criminal Defense Lawyers

Led by former Brooklyn prosecutor Jaime Santana, our team of knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers has helped hundreds of people resolve serious state and federal drug charges. We understand that a drug conviction will have a lifelong effect on your life, and we take our responsibility to preserve your freedom seriously.

If you’ve been charged with a crime, the sooner you secure legal representation, the better. Don’t wait for the prosecution to build their case against you. If you or a loved one has been arrested for drugs in New York City, contact our office today for a confidential case evaluation. We will immediately take action to preserve your rights.

How Santana Law Firm Will Help You

Pursuing a case against a police officer or department is challenging because of the power police hold. History has shown that the NYPD protects its own and does all it can to conceal incidents of unlawful deadly force. Police reports may be inaccurate, and there is often little evidence to dispute them. To top it off, judges and juries often have an instinct to believe the word of police officers over the word of a victim who has committed a crime.

Police shooting lawsuits are difficult—but not impossible—to win. With a skilled NYC police shooting lawyer on your side, the truth will come to light, and justice can be won.

Santana Law Firm Will:

  • 1Immediately take action to preserve your right to file a lawsuit
  • 2Thoroughly investigate your case to challenge the police’s side of the story
  • 3Scrutinize the officer’s record to find a possible pattern of violence
  • 4Find witnesses and evidence to confirm unlawful shooting
  • 5Work with our network of experts to develop a strong argument
  • 6Develop a strategy to secure the maximum compensation possible

The only way to stop unlawful shootings is to hold police legally accountable for their actions. Filing a wrongful shooting lawsuit not only helps you find closure and justice, but it can help prevent violent officers from harming someone else.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a wrongful police shooting, contact our office today to schedule a confidential case evaluation. Our lawyers are ready to advocate for you.