Heroin is a highly addictive drug derived from morphine. It is classified as a Schedule I drug due to its high potential for abuse and the fact that there is no currently accepted medical use for it in the United States. Possession and sale of heroin is a serious crime in New York, incurring heavy fines and even decades in prison
State Penalties for Possession and Trafficking of Heroin:
In New York, possession of less than 1/8 of an ounce of heroin is criminal possession in the 7th degree, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. Possessing more than 1/8 of an ounce, the charge is criminal possession in the 4th degree, which is a Class C felony punishable by 1 to 5 1/2 years in jail for a first offense and up to 9 years for a second. Possession of ½ of an ounce or more is criminal possession in the 3rd degree, a Class B felony punishable by 1 to 9 years in jail. Second time offenders may face 12-15 years. If someone is charged with possessing less than 1/2 ounce of heroin with intent to sell or selling less than 1/2 ounce, the same charges and penalties apply. An arrest for possession of 4 ounces or more is criminal possession in the 2nd degree, a Class A-II felony that can result in 3 to 10 years in prison for a first offense, and 14-17 years for a second offender. An arrest for possession of 8 ounces or more is criminal possession in the 1st degree, a Class A-I felony punishable by 8-20 years in jail for a first offense and 15-30 years for a repeat offender. Selling ½ ounce or more of heroin is criminal sale of a controlled substance in the 2nd degree, a Class A-II felony punishable by 3-10 years in prison for first-time offenders, while a second offense can result in 14-17 years of prison time. Selling 2 ounces or more is criminal sale of a controlled substance in the 1st degree, a Class A-I felony that draw an 8-20 year prison term. Second time offenders may face 15-30 years.
When is the best time to act?:
If you have been charged with possession of heroin, you need to consult to a criminal defense attorney immediately, as charged related to Schedule I drugs can have a serious impact on your life.
Attempt to Commit Conspiracy, Conspiracy, Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance, and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance
Difference between New York state and Federal statutes:
Federal penalties differ from New York state ones, and apply to possession only, although being arrested with even a small amount usually results in a charge of possession with intent to distribute. A first conviction for possessing any amount of heroin can result in 1 year in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000. A second conviction is punishable by 15 days-2 years in jail and a $2,500 fine. Upon a third conviction, a person can be imprisoned for 90 days or more and pay a $5,000 fine. Federal penalties for sale or possession with intent to sell heroin vary depending on the amount. Less than 100 grams draws a sentence of up to 20 years and a maximum fine of $1,000,000. More than 100 grams but less than 1 kilo draws a penalty of 5-40 years in prison and a maximum fine of $2,000,000, while more than a kilo can result in 10 year to life in jail and a maximum fine of $4,000,000.
Unlawful search and seizure, proof that the heroin belonged to another party, proof that the heroin was planted, entrapment, and mental disease / defect are acceptable defenses.
High profile/government cases:
On October 15, 2013, the Manhattan District Attorney announced the indictment of eleven members of a New York drug trafficking organization that possessed and sold heroin. All of the defendants were charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, as well as other drug-related crimes.