Rockefeller Drug Law Reform Part I: Your Criminal Defense in New York as a First Time Offender

Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance…Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance…heroin, crack-cocaine and cocaine (note that marijuana is not a Controlled Substance crime). Your NY criminal defense attorney has heard of these crimes before and it is likely you have as well. However, what we have all learned and grown accustomed to over the years may no longer be valid. Why? The old Rockefeller drug laws in NY have drastically changed. We, the NY criminal defense lawyers at Saland Law PC, have reviewed the applicable statutes as they relate to to the possession and sale of drugs and will address some of these changes in our first entry on this subject.

Pursuant to the first change in the Rockefeller drug laws, “B” drug felonies found in Penal Law section 220.39 – Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree and New York Penal Law section 220.16 – Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, required a mandatory term of imprisonment for a first time felony offender between one and nine years. The recent change now permits sentences that are a mix of probation and jail or even straight probation. Moreover, Willard, an inpatient drug treatment program and facility, is available for these first time offenders. Another change provided by the amended statutes authorizes courts to placed defendants convicted of the “B” drug crimes into SHOCK incarceration where previously a judge did not have the ability to do so. Previously, the NYS Department of Corrections had the authority to make this determination and could deny SHOCK even if a judge requested it.

Those individuals who are convicted of lesser drug felonies, sale or possession, will benefit from the change in the law as well. Like the “old” law, defendants convicted of these crimes may not go to jail. While non-incarceratory sentences are still permitted, like the more serious “B” felony offenses, a judge can place a defendant into the SHOCK program.

Although brief, this entry addresses the potential sentences and ramifications a first time offender faces if convicted of a narcotics felony. Only an overview, a thorough analysis of the facts and circumstance of your particular case is necessary to implement the strongest criminal defense.

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 clients in drugs and narcotics allegations throughout the New York City region. Further information on drug crimes as well as other penal law statutes, legal decisions and news worthy cases can be found on both the Saland Law PC website and the New York Criminal Lawyer Blog.

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