7th Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance Dismissed on Merits: DA Can’t Prove Client Possessed Cocaine

There are few worse things than being accused of a crime you did not commit. It really does not matter if you arrested for Aggravated Harassment, Assault, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property or any other offense. Arguably it is worse to spend a night in Central Booking than it is to be given a Desk Appearance Ticket in New York, but at the end of the day if you are arrested and prosecuted for something you did not do, then no matter the circumstances it is miserable experience. The above scenario recently played out for a client of Saland Law PC arrested for possessing cocaine in Manhattan. After the police arrested our client and prosecutors charged him with PL 220.03, Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, our client had the “good fortune” of being given a DAT. From there, things went from bad to worse before the New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC secured an an outright dismissal for our client.

For Assistant District Attorneys in New York, prosecutions for PL 220.03 are fairly routine. Heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, molly, crack and other controlled substances violate the Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance statute. Sometimes the police will be watching a drug dealer and other times someone at a concert – Phish concerts at Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden (MSG) is a favorite spot of the NYPD – is caught putting a drug in their sock or pulling it out before entering the arena. Equally common, the police will often wait in plain clothes outside bars and clubs to catch people purchasing or doing a “bump” of cocaine. Assuming the accused does not have multiple bags or is not believed to be selling (and the weight of the cocaine, for example, does not exceed 500 mg), then the crimes is a misdemeanor. Troubling for a defendant is not necessarily incarceration even though the law allows for up to one year in jail, but the implications of an arrest or conviction for PL 220.03 to a professional who may have some certifications and licenses as well as those who are foreign born but working or studying in the United States on a visa such as an F-1 or H-1B.

Bringing us back to our client, when our client appeared before the judge for arraignment on the DAT at 100 Centre Street, the prosecution gave notice of a statement alleging that our client admitted to possessing the cocaine. Our client steadfastly denied the statement to us and reaffirmed that our client was never in possession or touched drugs. Finding our client credible, we rejected the offer made by the prosecutor. Ultimately, after appearing in court another time and again rejecting any offer, prosecutors advanced the case for dismissal. Prosecutors acknowledge that there was an error in that our client did not make the statement attributed to our client, but instead it was allegedly made by a co-defendant. Moreover, we provided scientific proof that our client had no drugs in our client’s system. Lastly, we argued that even if true, there was enough reasonable doubt in the case that the DA’s Office would be unable to secure a conviction and we were willing to “go the distance.”

While this particular case played out favorably for our client and was dismissed on its merits, the reason our criminal defense attorneys at Saland Law PC could resolve the criminal case in such a manner was due to assistance from our client to get the drug test, our confrontation of the prosecutor over our client’s alleged statement, and our advocacy that the People would never get a conviction not merely because our client did not possess drugs, but because the police in this scenario merely grabbed a bunch of people because they may have observed one person with a controlled substance and attributed it to others who were standing nearby.

To better prepare yourself for Desk Appearance Tickets and drug arrests including New York Penal Law 220.03, read more on these topics through the links contained herein and the websites listed below.


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