New York Crimes Involving the Possession and Sale of Molly, Ecstasy or MDMA: NY PL Article 220 Arrests and What it Means to You

What is Molly? Why do the police arrest you in New York for even the smallest amount? Why do prosecutors care if you have some drugs for “personal use”? Is the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, or for that matter any District Attorney’s Office in New York City or a neighboring county, going to waste time and money prosecuting a first time offender for simple drug possession? Simply, the answer to this last question is “yes” and the answers to the prior questions should be equally clear. Whether you are given a Desk Appearance Ticket or you find yourself locked up waiting overnight to see a judge in criminal court the following morning, possession or sale of Molly, MDMA and Ecstasy is without a doubt a serious crime in New York. Certainly, possession of a one or two tablets or capsules recovered from your car or your pocket at a concert or club is a not as serious as having ten, twenty or thirty pills of Molly, but both are crimes. Likewise, possession of a couple tablets of Ecstasy is no where nearly as significant criminally when compared to the sale of even a single capsule of MDMA. The latter is a felony out of the gate. There is no passing “Go”. You are going directly to jail.

So, what are the crimes in New York that one will face upon arrest for possessing or selling MDMA, Molly or Ecstasy? Will you merely get a slap on the wrist? Can a misdemeanor or felony “stick”? Are there any consequences beyond your criminal exposure?

Starting from the bottom, or least serious offense, and working towards the crimes where convictions have mandatory incarceratory sentences, the first and most frequent charge involving MDMA and Molly is Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree, New York Penal Law 220.03. PL 220.03 involves your possession, unlawfully, of any controlled substance. Even residue can potentially be charged. Whether its in your pocket or hand, in the console of your car…if the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you actually or constructively possessed Ecstasy, then a court can sentence you up to one year in jail. Even if the prosecution cannot do so, the police at a much earlier stage can arrest you for possession based on the drastically lower standard of probable cause. If it is your first offense, you do not resist, live relatively local to New York City, the police may give you a NYC Desk Appearance Ticket (please note that a Desk Appearance Ticket is still an arrest). Potentially punishable by up to a year in jail (Rikers Island in NYC), an arrest for PL 220.03 can be challenged on numerous grounds depending on the facts and evidence of your case. In the event it cannot, then mitigating your conduct to a non-criminal violation (Disorderly Conduct, for example) or an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal, aka, ACD, are dispositions that will ultimately seal (there are exceptions to the sealing that you should discuss with your criminal lawyer). The latter is a dismissal as well.

While an arrest for Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance is bad, an arrest for Third Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance is worse. Much worse…New York Penal Law 220.16 makes it a class “B” felony to possess a controlled substance with the intent to sell the same. You need not actually sell any MDMA, Ecstasy or Molly, but only have the intent to do so. How do the NYPD or local police establish your intent to sell and develop the probable cause to arrest you? Similarly, what type of evidence must prosecutors present to a Grand Jury to secure a felony indictment or to a trial jury to secure a conviction? While there is no hard line rule, facts that will not look favorable on your case and assist the prosecution will include the number of capsules of MDMA, any statement you made admitting to your intent during a possible transaction or to the police after the face, whether you had a large amount of cash on your person and even the sale of other substances. Because a conviction for a first time offender can result in a minimum of one and maximum of nine years in prison, followed by up to two years post release supervision, you can never be too prepared when defending yourself against this type of arrest.

Similar to PL 220.16, if you sell even one tablet of MDMA you can be charged with Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, New York Penal Law 220.39. In addition to PL 220.39, if your sale is on school grounds (which really is 1000 feet from a school property line and almost everywhere in NYC), then the crime is enhanced to New York Penal Law 220.44. Both “B” felonies, PL 220.39 has the same sentencing guidelines as PL 220.16 while PL 22.044 has a two year minimum in lieu of a one year minimum term of imprisonment upon conviction.

A brief description of the more common charges associated with the possession and sale of MDMA, Ecstasy and Molly in New York, this entry touched only on the fringes of this crime. Remember, that your arrest charges may not be the same charges that prosecutors pursue in either criminal court or the Grand Jury. A Desk Appearance Ticket may not reflect what you find yourself facing when you appear in court. There is not minimum requirement of the number of capsules you might possess of a drug that would provide the basis to go from a misdemeanor to a felony. Although the bottom line is that you should stay clear of possessing or selling illegal drugs, in the event you are arrested and charged with one of these crimes educate yourself on the law, identify possible defenses with your criminal attorney and implement your chosen defense to put you in the best position to favorable resolve your case in criminal court and minimize the impact of your arrest to your career.

Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense law practice established by two former Manhattan Assistant District Attorneys. The criminal defense lawyers at Saland Law PC represent clients in drug related investigations, arrests, indictments and trials throughout New York City and other suburban municipalities.

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