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Bronx Drug Possession Attorney

Drug possession is both a state crime (NY PEN §220) and a federal crime (21 U.S.C. 13), but federal penalties tend to be more severe than state penalties for an equivalent offense. In fact, federal laws dictating mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug crimes have been widely criticized for keeping thousands of non-violent drug offenders in prison for excessive periods of time and for having a disproportionate effect on African-Americans. The First Step Act of 2018 has been hailed as a major breakthrough in correcting these issues.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences Biased Against Crack Cocaine

The mandatory sentences for crack cocaine offenses provide a good example of how harsh and racially-biased federal drug sentencing laws can be. Prior to the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, a seller caught with just 50 grams of crack cocaine faced a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years. Even after the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, a seller caught with as little as 280 grams of crack cocaine was subject to a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years for a first-time offender or 20 years to life for a repeat offender. In contrast, a seller would have to be caught with 5,000 grams of powder cocaine to qualify for a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.

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Manhattan prescription drug charges lawyerNew Yorkers with leftover prescription drugs will now have safer options for discarding them, thanks to the state’s new Drug Take Back Act that went into effect on January 6, 2019. Lawmakers hope that one effect of this law will be to curtail drug possession crimes involving unlawful possession of prescription narcotics (e.g., oxycodone and fentanyl) or other prescription drugs that are commonly resold and misused (e.g., ADHD drugs like Ritalin and Adderall).

The Problems Created by Leftover Prescription Drugs

When someone is prescribed a powerful medication such as an opioid pain reliever, they are often left with extra pills that they did not need or preferred not to take. In some cases, these pills are flushed down the toilet by someone who does not realize the harm these drugs can do to freshwater supplies and aquatic life. In other cases, these pills find their way into new, unauthorized hands and contribute to the epidemic of opioid addiction and death by overdose that has plagued this nation over the past few years. 

Various efforts were made to deal with this problem on a piecemeal and voluntary basis, such as drug drop-off points at police stations, local “drug take back” days, and collection stations at some hospitals and pharmacies. However, many believe that much more could be and needed to be done. The New York state legislature addressed this problem with the passage of the Drug Take Back Act during its 2017-2018 session, which added Article 2-B sections 290-294 and amended section 3343-b of the Public Health Law.

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Brooklyn drug court attorneyDrug possession and use crimes remain a major problem for New York City. Some parks in the Bronx are so heavily strewn with used hypodermic needles that the grounds are unsafe for visitors. Heroin addicts can be seen shooting up inside Manhattan subway stations. Overdose deaths due to opioids such as heroin and fentanyl have skyrocketed to an estimated 1,500 per year in New York City.

As prison sentences have failed to stem illegal drug possession, alternative programs such as drug treatment courts have been created. Most of these programs have now been operating in NYC for 10 to 15 years.

How the NYC Drug Treatment Court Program Works

If you have been arrested for a non-violent crime in New York City and you have a substance use disorder (alcoholism or drug addiction), the first thing you should do is seek the advice of an experienced drug court lawyer. Your lawyer can explain your legal options and advise you as to whether a drug court program might be a good option for you.

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Bronx marijuana possession defense attorneyNew York City arrests for drug crimes involving cannabis will soon be a thing of the past. New York came close to legalizing marijuana use by all adults in 2018 and is expected to complete the process in 2019.

One of the first moves in favor of broadly legalizing adult marijuana use was taken by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance on May 15, 2018. He announced that as of August 1, 2018, his office would no longer prosecute criminal cases where the only charge is minor marijuana possession or public smoking.

In June, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio issued an official statement that New York police would stop arresting and fingerprinting people for the sole offense of smoking marijuana in public. While public marijuana use is a class B misdemeanor crime under New York state law, as of September 1, 2018, offenders would receive a criminal court summons for unlawful possession of marijuana (25g or less). The summons requires a court appearance, but because the charge is only a violation, the maximum penalty is a fine of $100 for a first offense and $200 for a second offense. In addition, a violation does not leave the offender with a criminal drug conviction on their record.

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