Navigating Drug Charges in Brooklyn: What You Need to Know


In the state of New York, especially in densely populated areas like Brooklyn, drug-related offenses are taken quite seriously. For individuals faced with drug charges, understanding the legal nuances and potential defense strategies is critical. In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of drug laws in New York, potential penalties, and defense strategies.

What are the drug laws in New York?

New York State has a comprehensive set of drug laws that govern the possession, sale, manufacture, and distribution of controlled substances. The New York Public Health Law lists various drugs and classifies them into different schedules based on their potential for abuse and medical use.

Possession of these substances, without an appropriate medical prescription or justification, can lead to criminal charges. The severity of the charges, whether misdemeanor or felony, often depends on the quantity of the drug, the intent (i.e., personal use vs. sale), and the individual’s prior criminal record.

How long do you go to jail for drug possession in NY?

The length of incarceration for drug possession in New York largely depends on the type and amount of the drug, as well as any prior convictions. Here are some general guidelines:

Seventh-degree Criminal Possession: 

This is the possession of a controlled substance for personal use. It’s a class A misdemeanor that could result in up to one year in jail.

Fifth-degree Criminal Possession: 

This involves possession with the intent to sell. It’s a class D felony that can lead to up to 2.5 years in prison for first-time offenders.

There are more severe degrees of possession, leading up to first-degree, which concerns large amounts of drugs and can lead to significantly longer prison sentences.

What is criminal possession of a controlled substance in NY?

In New York, criminal possession of a controlled substance pertains to individuals who knowingly and unlawfully possess substances listed under the state’s controlled substance schedules. The degree of the charge, from seventh-degree (least severe) to first-degree (most severe), often depends on the amount and type of substance in possession.

How do you defend drugs?

When facing drug-related charges, the defense approach is crucial. Here are some common defense strategies:

Common Defense Strategies for Drug Charges:

When faced with drug-related charges, crafting an effective defense strategy is paramount. The nature of the case, the evidence presented, and the specific circumstances can all play a role in determining the best approach. Here are some expanded explanations of common defense strategies:

Unlawful Search and Seizure: 

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures. If law enforcement acted without a valid search warrant or lacked probable cause to conduct a search, any evidence obtained may be considered inadmissible in court. This means that the drugs or any other evidence collected might be thrown out, making the prosecution’s case considerably weaker.

Lack of Possession: 

The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had actual possession or control over the drugs. In situations where drugs are found in a shared or public space (like a communal living room or a shared vehicle), it can be challenging to prove who the drugs belonged to. If the defense can create enough doubt regarding possession, the charges might be dropped or reduced.

Drugs Were Planted: 

This defense can be hard to prove but is not unheard of. There have been instances where evidence suggests that drugs were planted either by another individual or law enforcement. Having witness testimonies or surveillance footage can be crucial in establishing this defense.

Misidentification of the Substance: 

Not all substances are what they seem. For instance, powdered sugar or certain legal supplements can be mistaken for illicit drugs. Requesting an independent lab analysis can determine the actual composition of the substance, potentially proving it isn’t an illegal drug.

Valid Prescription: 

For drugs that are also available as prescription medications (like opioids or certain stimulants), proving that you have a valid prescription from a licensed medical professional can be a straightforward defense. This defense asserts that the possession was lawful and medically justified.


Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officials induce someone to commit a crime they wouldn’t have committed otherwise. For example, if an undercover officer pressured someone into purchasing drugs, the defense might argue that the individual was entrapped. However, this defense doesn’t hold if the accused was already predisposed to commit the crime.

Lack of Knowledge: 

If an individual didn’t know they were in possession of drugs, this can be used as a defense. For example, if someone borrowed a friend’s bag and didn’t know it contained drugs, they could argue they were unaware of the contents.


If someone was forced or threatened into possessing, transporting, or selling drugs, they might use duress as a defense. This strategy would need substantial evidence, such as witness testimonies or threats documented via text or recordings.

Chain of Custody Issues: 

Evidence in criminal cases must be handled with meticulous care. If there are inconsistencies in how the drug evidence was collected, stored, or transferred, it may be deemed unreliable or inadmissible in court.

Medical Marijuana Defense: 

In places where medical marijuana is legal, being a registered medical marijuana patient or caregiver can serve as a defense against marijuana-related charges, provided the amount possessed is within legal limits and other regulations are followed.

Facing drug charges in Brooklyn or anywhere in New York can be intimidating. It’s essential to understand the laws, potential penalties, and available defense strategies. And most importantly, if you find yourself in such a situation, seeking the counsel of an experienced attorney can be invaluable.

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