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Possession of Xanax

The number of American’s taking prescription drugs is on the rise. In fact, the Mayo Clinic found nearly 70 percent of Americans are on a least one prescription medication. What this number doesn’t account for, however, is the growing number of people abusing prescription drugs such as Xanax.

While you can legally possess Xanax with a valid prescription, being found in illegal possession can result in criminal charges. Depending on how much was found in your possession, you could spend up to five years in prison.

Criminal Defense Attorney in Garden City

Law Office of Stephanie Selloni is 100 percent devoted to criminal defense. Stephanie Selloni has over a decade of experience helping the men and women of Long Island through the criminal justice process. She is a proven defense attorney who will stop at nothing to achieve the best possible results for you.

Call (516) 972-1212 to take advantage of our free consultation. Law Office of Stephanie Selloni is based in Garden City, but also helps clients in areas such as Shirley and White Plains.


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Is Xanax a Controlled Substance in New York?

Xanax is the second most prescribed psychiatric drug in the United States. When used under the guidance of a physician, this medication helps treat illnesses such as anxiety and panic disorder. Many users forget the drug is a controlled substance since it is so widely used.

Xanax is a schedule IV substance, meaning it has accepted medical use and a low level for abuse. The drug is classified as a depressant and grouped with similar drugs such as Ativan, Ambien and Halcion. Schedule IV substances are considered safer than other controlled drugs such as heroin and cocaine. That being said, you will still face criminal charges if you are found in illegal possession of Xanax. 

The depressant can be legally purchased and consumed through a prescription from a certified doctor. However, you are still required only to take the prescribed amount, and you cannot give the drug to anyone else. Doing so may result in charges for the sale of a controlled substance. 


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Actual Possession vs. Constructive Possession vs. Joint Possession

There are three ways you can be arrested for possession of Xanax: actual, constructive and joint possession. Actual possession is typically simple to prove, while constructive and joint possession of a controlled substance may be more of a challenge for prosecutors to demonstrate.

All three types of possession share the element of illegal possession, but a few characteristics set them apart. Listed below is a brief explanation of the types of illegal drug possession: 

  • Actual Possession: Actual possession is what most of us think possession is; that is, having physical control or custody of something. For instance, a person having Xanax in their pocket is in actual possession of the drug. Likewise, if the Xanax is in your purse, you’d still have actual possession of the substance.
  • Constructive Possession: Constructive possession is used to expand actual possession in situations where someone did not have physical control of a drug. This type of possession is presumed when the Xanax is found in a place you had dominion and control over. This can include having the drug in a lock box you have the keys to or have the Xanax in the trunk of your car. Prosecutors do not have to prove constructive possession; it can be inferred.
  • Joint Possession: Joint possession involves more than one person being in possession of a drug. For instance, an officer stops a vehicle and find Xanax in the driver’s and passenger’s seats. The driver and the passenger may be presumed to have joint possession of the substance.

It does not matter if you were arrested for actual, constructive or joint possession; you will need a criminal defense lawyer on your side. Xanax may only be a schedule IV drug, but you can still be sentenced to time behind bars. 


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Penalties for Possession of Xanax

New York does not have an offense call possession of Xanax. Instead, you will be charged with possession of a controlled substance. How you are charged will depend on the amount found in your possession. The more Xanax found in your possession, the harsher the penalties.

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

  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree: Possessing any amount of Xanax, even a single pill, is a class A misdemeanor. You may be sentenced to the following if convicted:
    • Up to a year in jail
    • Two to three years of probation
    • A fine of up to $1,000 
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree: Possessing two or more pounds of Xanax is a class C felony. You may be sentenced to the following if convicted:
    • Between one and five years in prison
    • Three to five years of probation
    • A fine of up to $15,000

You may be eligible for drug court depending on your drug dependency and criminal history. Drug court is a great sentencing alternative compared to incarceration. The program allows certain eligible offenders the chance to get clean and have their criminal charges dismissed. Speak with a criminal defense attorney to see if drug court is the best option for you.


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Additional Resources

Schedule of Controlled Substances – There are thousands of drugs classified as a controlled substance in New York. By following the link, you can gain access to a complete list of controlled substances in the state. You can learn about other drugs classified as a schedule IV substance and gain access to other controlled substance statutes. 

Controlled Substance Offenses – Follow the link provided to read the section of the New York Consolidated Laws governing possession of Xanax. You can read the precise legal definition of the controlled substance crimes mentioned on this page and find out how the state defines sell, controlled substance and depressant.


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Criminal Defense Lawyer in Garden City

It’s a common misconception a judge will only sentence you to probation if you are convicted for possessing a small amount of Xanax. Though that may be the case for some, a judge may decide to make an example out of you and sentence you to the maximum time behind bars. Don’t let this happen to you. Stephanie Selloni is a tenacious criminal defense attorney who is ready to put her experience to work for you.

Call (516) 972-1212 to schedule a free case consultation. Law Office of Stephanie Selloni defends those accused of drug crimes in Nassau County, Suffolk County and Westchester County.


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