New York Drug Trafficking Laws & Charges + Statute of Limitations

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Although many people consider drug trafficking to be the same as drug dealing, in New York the law applies a distinction. In this state, people may be convicted of drug trafficking if they are found manufacturing, transporting, distributing, or selling illegal drugs to other people.

Though state laws across America regarding drugs can differ dramatically, many states punish drug trafficking activity severely, particularly when certain factors are in place. In many circumstances, drug trafficking is a crime that relies on measurement and weight. For instance, even if you do not intend to sell the drugs that are found on your person, you may still be convicted of drug trafficking if the amount of those drugs exceed a certain amount.

Laws and Penalties

Charges for drug trafficking in New York are very serious, and people convicted of committing these crimes can find themselves dealing with penalties that include decades in prison, as well as serious fines. While the severity of the penalties associated with a conviction of drug trafficking will depend on certain factors, and the history of the defendant, most of the time drug trafficking carries serious punishments.

In New York, all convictions for the sale of controlled substances are classed as felonies. The levels of these convictions range from fifth-degree felonies that are punishable by up to 2 and a half years in prison for first-time offenders, to first-degree felonies which are punishable by a maximum of up to twenty years in prison for people deemed to be trafficking non-major substances. In a first-degree felony, these individuals will also be dealing with a five-year period of supervision post release. In a second offense of first-degree drug trafficking within New York, the minimum sentence is twelve years in prison, and the maximum sentence can be life.

The fines that are imposed on felony offenders in New York will range from a minimum of $5,000 to double the gain that the defendant obtained from selling drugs, to $100,000 for people who are convicted of a first-degree sale of a controlled substance.

Probation sentences may also be issued in certain drug trafficking cases across New York, but these are often only provided as part of a plea bargain wherein the accused agrees to plead guilty to a charge that is less serious so as to hopefully reduce the sentence. Most of the time, probation periods will last for at least one year.

Importantly, drug trafficking laws in New York impose a mandatory minimum sentence, which means that those who are convicted of drug trafficking must serve a minimum amount of time in prison and will not be eligible for early release on parole until that time has passed.

What’s more, in New York, if the drug trafficking conviction is linked to an intent or an attempt to sell drugs to minors or protected persons, then the penalties that are issued during a conviction may be much higher.

Drug Trafficking Defenses

Although it can be difficult to launch a defense against an accusation of drug trafficking, New York law allows for arguments to be made on the behalf of the defendant, which might include:

  • A lack of intent defense that shows that the individual in question had no intention to traffic drugs or break the law in any way
  • A lack of knowledge defense that suggests that the accused were not aware of the drugs that were found in their property or on their person, and those drugs did not belong to them
  • Possession for personal use defense which argues that the drugs found were only for personal use and would never have been distributed or sold to anyone else.
  • An entrapment defense that suggests that law enforcement officers pushed the defendants into trafficking drugs through some operation while they would not have committed that offense by themselves
  • Infancy – Those under the age of sixteen cannot be charged with drug trafficking in the same manner as an adult.

Statute of Limitations

In New York, the crime of drug trafficking is regulated by a frequently quoted statute known as 18 USC 3282. This statute suggests that a five-year window of limitation should be provided to prosecute non-capital federal offenses. In some cases, it is possible for this statute to be lengthened or tolled based on a specific situation, but in most circumstances there will not be a possibility to prosecute an individual for drug trafficking after an initial sixty month period has passed since the alleged offense was first committed.

New York Drug Trafficking Cases

Geoffrey Nathan, Esq.

About Geoffrey Nathan, Esq.

Geoffrey G Nathan is a top federal crimes lawyer and Chief Editor of FederalCharges.com. He is a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 1988, admitted to practice in both Federal and State courts. If you have questions about your federal case he can help by calling 877.472.5775.