Arrested for Drug Possession at NYC’s Madison Square Garden Before the Phish Concert: That’s a Shocker

During the day you are a lawyer, work in finance, a licensed real estate broker, or a school teacher. Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom or you’re just figuring out what the heck you want to do with your life with your BA in History from Generic State University. Reliving your glory days in college pretending the babysitter isn’t at home with your kids or just trying your hardest to ignore the fact that you have a mortgage or rent payment coming up after the encore, what could be better than getting lost in the moment to Phish’s “Fluffhead” and “Harry Hood?” The real question, however, is not what could be better, but what could be worse? The answer? An arrest for Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, New York Penal Law 220.03.

On its face, going to see Phish certainly could be a release and even a religious experience, but you’re not a reckless college kid anymore (or maybe you are) and you weren’t fooling anyone “hiding” a baggie of cocaine, Molly, MDMA, ecstasy, marijuana or any other drug in your sock. It’s just like telling your parents you only had two beers. You didn’t. They knew that.

Back to the issue at hand…if you’re reading this, you did not make it inside the Garden to see Phish because you’re “I only had two beers” theory of keeping things discreet was unsuccessful and you thought nobody – let alone the NYPD – would see you take a bump of cocaine outside the gate. Alternatively, in retrospect, stashing drugs in your sock or pocket wasn’t the best place to pull the wool over the collective eyes of Madison Square Garden security or the NYPD. Regardless of what you did, or failed to do, now you’ve been arrested for NY PL 220.03 or NY PL 221.10, and the NYPD wants to thank you for making it so easy for them –  like shooting fish in a barrel.

Whether you received a New York City Desk Appearance Ticket, aka, a DAT, or the police left those handcuffs on you for a long time and hauled you down to Central Booking at Manhattan Criminal Court’s 100 Centre Street Tombs, any background check will reveal your pending criminal charges of drug or marijuana possession. While not a felony crime, these simple drug possessions are not so simple. Is it reportable on your U4 or to FINRA? What about for the purpose of medical licensing as a physician, nurse, physical therapist or other healthcare professional? Similarly, as a teacher taking care of young impressionable children, what are the consequences to your job and career with the Department or Board of Education? Sadly, reality may not have been worth that little side trip.

Irrespective of the controlled substance or illegal drug you possessed or are accused of possessing, it is a crime to do so. Although not likely for a first time offender, a conviction is not merely indelible, but is punishable by as much as one year in prison. Even a violation of Disorderly Conduct generally hangs on your record for one year before the closed case is sealed. So, how does one minimize one’s exposure? Other than an outright dismissal, what do you need to pursue? Assuming you are eligible, the adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, or ACD, is a non-criminal resolution to a drug arrest that is dismissed after six months. Equally important, because an ACD restores you to the place you were pre-arrest, upon the sealing and dismissal of the criminal case you can request that your fingerprints and mugshot be destroyed and the record of your arrest removed from the FBI database. Well, ain’t that a bit of sunshine to rock out to while listening to “You Enjoy Myself” in your 5 series BWM on your way “Out East” next weekend?

All kidding aside, a brief moment of stupidity can lead to one hell of a hangover. Your 500 miligrams of cocaine is potentially a felony. Your gaffe and admission to giving Adderall or Oxy to some of your friends can also be a felony drug sale. Just using and possessing is a misdemeanor crime. The mere hint of an arrest, the fact that it may take months to be removed from your record and the collateral consequences of the same can be dire. Let this be your lesson.

At bottom, you cannot relive your past for better or worse. What you can do, however, is put yourself in the best place to identify and implement a defense to charges of PL 220.03 or PL 221.10. Again, whether by DAT or full blown processing, failure to properly address these crimes can have life altering consequences. Educate yourself on the law. Give yourself a foundation of knowledge. And when this is all in your past, your job and career are protected, and you remember that common sense is better than instant gratification…Michael Bolton has one hell of a voice and he’s playing at a venue near you.

To learn more about New York drug crimes – both felonies and misdemeanors – as well as New York City Desk Appearance Tickets, a review of this blog and  will provide you with ample information to digest and examine to educate yourself about the law and process in New York.

Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors. The New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC represent those accused of drug and marijuana crimes throughout the New York City region and would like to thank Phish for their regularly scheduled performances in Gotham.

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