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Possession of Opioids

Opioid use in New York has skyrocketed over the last decade. Opiates can be prescribed to treat pain, but some users can become addicted, which leads them down a road of criminal activity. The Empire State heavily penalizes illegal possession of opiates. Depending on how much was in your possession, you could spend up to 20 years in prison. 

Like the rest of the United States, New York is in the midst of the opioid epidemic. Rather than sentencing drug offenders to incarceration, certain individuals may be eligible for drug court, depending on the classification of the charge. Drug court allows users the opportunity to get clean and have their charges dropped. Speak with a defense attorney to find out if you are eligible for drug court.

Criminal Defense Attorney in Garden City

Retaining legal counsel is the best defense you can take to charges for opioid possession. Opiates are one of the most dangerous drugs in the eyes of the state, so the court will not go easy on you. Stephanie Selloni is a devoted criminal defense lawyer willing to fight tooth and nail on your behalf. She will file motions, suppress evidence and do whatever else is necessary to achieve a favorable verdict for you.

Call (516) 972-1212 to schedule a time to speak with Ms. Selloni. Law Office of Stephanie Selloni is based in Garden City but also serves areas such as Calverton and New Rochelle. <


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How are Opioids Classified in NY?

Opioids are a substance that acts on the opioid receptors in our brain. They produce a morphine-like effect and create feelings of euphoria. Opioids are not a single drug. Instead, it is a broad category of drugs that mostly includes prescription pain killers. Common types of opioids include: 

  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Demerol
  • Methadone
  • OxyContin
  • Percocet
  • Morphine
  • Vicodin
  • Heroin 

Opioids are classified as a schedule I narcotic, meaning they have a high potential for abuse and can lead to severe physical and psychological dependency.  Schedule I substances are considered the most dangerous drugs on the state’s controlled substance schedule and possession is heavily penalized.

Opiates like Vicodin and Demerol can be legally purchased with a prescription. Generally, these medications are safe when used as prescribed by a doctor, but because of their euphoric like effects, users can become addicted. Some users will turn to heroin when their prescription opiate runs out. Heroin is considered an opiate and will result in the same charges as if you were caught with an illegal prescription opiate.


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New York’s Opioid Possession Laws  

Prosecutors will have to prove numerous elements before they can secure a conviction for opioid possession. For one, the drug in question must be a controlled substance that was knowingly in your possession. Not only this, but the possession must have been unlawful. Remember; if you have a prescription for the drug, you cannot be charged with possession of a controlled substance.

You can be in possession in one of three ways: active possession, constructive possession and joint possession. You are considered in active possession of opioids if the substance is under your physical control. Having the drug in your pocket or your purse would be considered active possession.

There are situations where an opioid is not in your active possession, but it is in a location you have control over. This is called constructive possession, and it can include having the substance in the glove box of your car or a locker you know the combination to. Prosecutors will have to prove you had the ability and intention to control the drugs and that you knew where the opioids were located.

Active and constructive possession does not have to be exclusive; meaning more than one person can have possession of the drug. This is known as joint possession, and it commonly occurs when a driver and passengers are all arrested after an officer finds opioids near all the occupied seats. Likewise, a husband and wife will both be arrested for possession if an officer finds opioids in their home since both of them have access and control of the structure.


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Penalties for Possession of Opioids

The opioid crisis in the United States has caused the New York courts to crack down on the issue. Opioids are a schedule I narcotic, making them the most dangerous drugs on the controlled substance schedule. The state heavily penalizes opioid possession to prevent New Yorkers from consuming the drug illegally.

Listed below are the possible penalties for possession of opioids in New York:

  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree: Possession of less than an eighth of an ounce of opioids is a class A misdemeanor punishable by the following:
    • Up to a year in jail
    • Probation for two to three years
    • A fine of up to $1,000 
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree: Possession of an eighth of an ounce or more of opioids is a class C felony punishable by the following:
    • Between one to five years in prison
    • Probation for three to five years
    • A fine of up to $15,000
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree: Possession of half an ounce or more of opioids is a class B felony punishable by the following:
    • Between one and nine years in prison
    • Probation for three to five years
    • A fine of up to $30,000
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the second degree: Possession of four ounces or more of opioids is a class A-II felony punishable by the following:
    • Between three and ten years in prison
    • Up to life of probation
    • A fine of up to $50,000 
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree: Possession of eight ounces or more of opioids is a class A-I felony punishable by the following:
    • Between eight and 20 years in prison
    • Up to life of probation
    • A fine of up to $100,000

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Additional Resources

Controlled Substance Offenses | New York Statutes – Read the section of the New York Statutes governing possession of a controlled substance. By following the link, you can find the legal definition of a “narcotic drug,” learn about other drug offenses and gain access to other drug statutes.

Schedule of Controlled Substances | New York Statutes – Follow the link provided to view a comprehensive list of drugs and chemicals classified as a controlled substance. You can also view a list of illegal opioids and opiate derivatives. The schedule can be viewed on the New York Senate website.


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Criminal Defense Lawyer in Garden City

Do not settle for a court-appointed lawyer if you have been charged for opioid possession. You will need a criminal defense attorney with proven experience defending drug charges. Find that attorney at Law Office of Stephanie Selloni. Stephanie Selloni has been dedicated to defending New Yorkers for over a decade. She has a keen understanding of the state’s criminal justice system and is well prepared to assist you. 

Call (516) 972-1212 to schedule a free consultation. Law Office of Stephanie Selloni assist clients in areas such as Nassau County, Suffolk County and Westchester County.


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