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How does New York characterize drug trafficking?

If you face drug trafficking charges in New York, this is a highly serious crime, and you face substantial prison time and fines if the prosecutor convicts you. As FindLaw explains, New York has some of the toughest drug laws in the country, including five separate categories of selling a controlled substance, all of which are felonies.

It may shock you to learn that the prosecutor need not prove that you actually possessed the drugs you allegedly sold. Nor must (s)he prove that you knew the exact quantity of drugs you allegedly sold or even that you actually consummated the sale. All (s)he must prove to convict you of drug trafficking are the following four things:

  1. You sold a controlled substance
  2. You knew it was a controlled substance
  3. You intended to sell it
  4. You had the ability to sell it

Consequently, if the prosecutor can prove that you merely offered to sell the drugs or entered into an agreement to sell them, the jury likely will convict you of drug trafficking since your offer or agreement proves both that you intended to sell the drugs and had the ability to deliver them.

Penalties upon conviction

As stated, New York law sets forth five categories of felony drug trafficking. Fifth-degree trafficking is the least serious and carries a penalty of between one and two and a half years in prison if this is your first conviction. In addition, conviction subjects you to a minimum $5,000 fine or double the amount you received from your drug sale.

As your alleged crime becomes more serious, so do the penalties you face upon conviction. A first-degree drug trafficking conviction carries the following penalties:

  • Eight to 20 years in prison plus five years of supervision after your release
  • A minimum of 12 years and up to 20 years in prison for a second conviction
  • A minimum of 15 years and up to life in prison if you are deemed to be a major drug trafficker

A conviction for first-degree drug trafficking also subjects you to a fine of $100,000.

This is general information only and not intended to provide legal advice.

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