Powder Cocaine (Possession and Trafficking)
Cocaine is a dangerously addictive drug that is classified as a Schedule II narcotic, because it has a serious impact on a person’s ability to function. Illegal possession of a controlled substance like cocaine is a serious crime in New York, which has some of the toughest drug laws in the country.
- State Penalties for Possession and Trafficking of Powder Cocaine:
In New York, possession of less than 500 mg of powder cocaine is criminal possession in the 7th degree, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. If one is arrested for possessing 500 mg or more, the charge is criminal possession in the 5th degree, a Class D felony. First-time offenders face 1 to 2 1/2 years in prison, while second-time offenders face 4 or more years. Possession of 1/8 of an ounce or more is classified as criminal possession in the 4th degree, a Class C felony that can result in 1 to 5½ years in prison. Second time offenders may be incarcerated for 8 years or more. Possession of ½ of an ounce or more is criminal possession in the 3rd degree, a Class B felony punishable by 1 to 9 years in jail. Second time offenders may face 12-15 years. If someone is arrested for possessing cocaine with intent to sell or selling less than 1/2 ounce, the same charges and penalties apply. An arrest for possession of 4 ounces or more is criminal possession in the 2nd degree, a Class A-II felony that can result in 3 to 10 years in prison. Second time offenders may face to 14-17 years. An arrest for possession of 8 ounces or more is criminal possession in the 1st degree, a Class A-I felony punishable by 8 to 20 years in jail. Second time offenders may face 15 to 30 years. Selling ½ ounce or more of powder cocaine is criminal sale of a controlled substance in the 2nd degree, a Class A-II felony punishable by 3 to 10 years in jail. Second time offenders may face up to 14-17 years. Selling 2 ounces or more is criminal sale of a controlled substance in the 1st degree, a Class A-I felony that carries an 8-20 year prison term. Second time offenders may face 15 to 30 years.
- When is the best time to act?:
If you have been charged with possession of powder cocaine, you need to speak to a skilled drug crime lawyer or criminal defense attorney immediately.
- Related Crimes:
Attempt to Commit Conspiracy, Conspiracy, Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance, and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance
- Difference between New York state and Federal statutes:
Federal penalties differ from New York state ones, and apply to possession only, although being arrested with even a small amount usually results in a charge of possession with intent to distribute. There is also a differentiation between powder and crack cocaine at the federal level. A first conviction for powder cocaine possession (any amount) is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000. A second conviction can incur jail time of 15 days to 2 years and a $2,500 fine. If one is convicted a third time, they can go to jail for 90 days or more and pay a $5,000 fine. Federal penalties for sale or possession with intent to sell powder cocaine range in severity depending on the amount. Less than 500 grams is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000,000. More than 500 grams draws a penalty of 5-40 years in prison and a maximum fine of $2,000,000, while 5 kilos or more can result in 10 year to life in jail and a maximum fine of $4,000,000.
- Successful Defenses:
Unlawful search and seizure, proof that the cocaine belonged to another party, proof that the cocaine was planted, entrapment, and mental disease / defect are acceptable defenses.
- High profile/government cases:
On February 9, 2012, Ceferino Perez, aka “Papo,” 45, a major dealer of powder cocaine in New York pleaded guilty to Operating As a Major Trafficker and Conspiracy in the Second Degree. He was sentenced on February 29 in New York State Supreme Court to 20 years to life in prison.