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NY Felony Drug Charges, Sentencing and “Drug Court”

Convict in PrisonCriminal Defense Attorneys in NY State Since 1898

People from every walk of life are impacted by drugs. Daily news headlines seem to regularly include arrests of professional athletes, government officials, celebrities and people from our local community, all related to drugs.

Drug charges and convictions can have devastating effects on one’s family, social and professional lives. In some professions, a drug conviction disqualifies them from professional licensing. A drug conviction can interfere with everything from getting a job, a college loan, federal housing or food assistance, grants, scholarships, access to government training programs, or subsidized housing for seniors – even if the conviction was decades prior. In some cases, a conviction is not required; a drug charge is enough to prevent access to various benefits and programs.

Criminal Defense Attorney or Regular Attorney?

Should you hire the same attorney you use for wills, real estate and business; or should you hire an attorney that specializes in criminal defense law?

You May Only Get One Chance

Only you can determine which attorney is best for your specific situation. While changing attorneys is an option, it is not always advised. We suggest you do your homework and start your legal defense off on the right foot. Hire a qualified attorney from the start and chances are you won’t be disappointed.

New York State drug laws are complex and often involve multiple charges. Attempting to fight NY State Drug charges with an attorney with little to no experience in criminal law, and specifically drug charges, could end with you not achieving the best possible outcome.

Bottom line, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can make all the difference when facing drug charges. Some cases will be dropped, some may be plead to a lesser charge, and some will go to trial. As they always do, results vary case by case; however, it is important to remember that the success of a District Attorney is often measured by how successfully they prosecute cases. The only person in the process you can trust is your attorney, so choose wisely.

Our Advice: Never take a drug charge lightly and get your Criminal Defense Lawyer involved as quickly as possible.

Put Up Your Best Defense

The criminal defense attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy are highly experienced in defending drug cases. Whether a first offense, or one of multiple charges, a drug charge requires due diligence, an aggressive defense and mastery of appropriate timing in order to achieve the best possible outcome.

Our attorneys will invest the time needed to mount a strong defense, with a continual commitment to seek reduced or dismissed charges.

Misdemeanor and Felony Drug Charges in NY

New York State takes drug charges seriously. Drug charges include misdemeanor and felony charges for drug possession, distribution, trafficking of street drugs such as marijuana, heroin, crack and cocaine, as well as prescription drugs. Driving while ability impaired by drugs (DWAI drugs) is a separate charge, and has specific penalties, fines and jail sentencing guidelines, especially when charged in conjunction with other drug charges.

A misdemeanor drug charge may seem harmless, but should never be taken lightly. Even though a misdemeanor drug charge is often reduced or dismissed with the help of a good criminal defense attorney, a conviction does establish a prior offense which could influence outcome of any future charges. A strong defense attorney will fight on your behalf to negotiate for the best possible outcome.

How a Felony Drug Conviction Can Impact Your Life

  • You may no longer vote. (called “Felony Disenfranchisement”)
  • You may not be a juror.
  • You may not purchase/own firearms.
  • No eligibility for welfare benefits.
  • No eligibility for Federally subsidized housing, and other programs.
  • Prohibited from securing or keeping various operator and/or professional licenses.

Learn more about felony charges and penalties in NY State.

Sentencing for Felony Drug Convictions in NY

Even a small amount of a controlled substance can result in a conviction and mandatory drug sentence in NY State. New York is aggressive in prosecuting drug cases.

Because there is an understanding that there is often underlying addiction in many drug cases, New York has made drug treatment options available in an attempt to rehabilitate those who are convicted of a felony who are determined to have a drug addiction.

NY State Felony Charge and Conviction reference chart

NY State Felony Drug Sentencing Guidelines 2013 (PDF)

Drug Court in New York State

NY offers CASAT (“Comprehensive Substance Abuse Treatment”), also known as ‘Drug Court’ as an alternative to jail and prison when applicable. (Please refer to the Felony Drug Sentencing Chart above).

These programs require the defendant to voluntarily enter into a court-supervised substance abuse rehabilitation program. Only non-violent addicted offenders are eligible to enter the Drug Court intervention program and strict compliance is required to meet requirements to successfully “graduate” from a Drug Court program.

One must understand that participation in these programs is not a slam-dunk. Inclusion in a Drug Court program is often at the sole discretion of a judge, often as a result of an evaluation by health services and the recommendation of the prosecutor. Rules for participation in Drug Court are defined in a contract which is then agreed upon by the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, the district attorney, treatment coordinator and the court. Successful completion can ultimately erase the drug charge and provide the defendant a clean slate. Failure to adhere to the rules, including periodic drug testing, can result in removal from the program, reinstatement of original charges, additional jail time and/or probation.

Shock Incarceration

Shock Incarceration resembles boot camp and can be offered as an accelerated alternative to mandatory minimums for convicted drug felonies. The program is extremely strict. Those who graduate Shock Incarceration are eligible to be released with time served upon completion, often reducing jail or prison time substantially.

The Drug Felony Sentencing Chart (above) demonstrates when Shock Incarceration is a viable option. The decision to offer Shock lies in the hands of the judge, and must be agreed upon by law enforcement, DA/Prosecutor, treatment coordinator, defendant and the defendant’s defense attorney.

When eligible, our criminal defense lawyers make the case that the individual is a worthy candidate for Drug Court or Shock Incarceration program and advocate for the defendant every step of the way.

Aggressive, Compassionate Representation

Our criminal defense attorneys are sensitive to the impact of addiction and how drug charges impact the defendant and their families. We are compassionate and understanding when interacting with our clients. But make no mistake, we are extremely aggressive and confident when advocating for them to prosecutors, law enforcement and the DA.

Free Drug Case Consultation

We represent defendants in courts throughout the greater Albany NY – Capital District Region.

Contact Us Now to request a free case analysis or schedule a confidential in-person meeting with an attorney at one of our four convenient offices in Troy, Latham,  Albany and Saratoga Springs.

For urgent situations, Please Call Us Now.

Our criminal defense attorneys are always available to clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, even on holidays. We are here to help.