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Repeat Drug Offenders Face Stiff Penalties

Don’t let the fact that New York legalized recreational marijuana earlier this year lull you into the belief that the state is getting some on drug crime.

The Empire State continues to have strict drug laws with penalties that are exponentially severe for repeat offenders.

Enhanced Penalties

Many first-time drug offenses have weighty consequences. These penalties escalate when someone is charged with a repeat offense.

New York considers someone a second-felony drug offender if they have been convicted of a previous drug felony within 10 years.

Repeat drug offenders convicted of the following crimes face the following time in prison with added time for violent felonies:

  • A-I Felony: 12 to 24 years; 15 to 30 years with prior violent felony conviction
  • A-2 Felony: 6 to 14 years; 8 to 17 with prior violent felony conviction
  • B Felony: 2 to 12 years; 6 to 15 with prior violent felony conviction
  • C Felony: 1.5 to 8 years; 3.5 to 9 years with prior violent felony conviction
  • D Felony: 1.5 to 4 years; 2.5 to 4.5 years with prior violent felony conviction
  • E Felony: 1.5 to 2 years; 2 to 2.5 years with prior violent felony conviction

New York classifies illicit drugs in five schedules. Schedule I is the most dangerous with a high probability of abuse and addiction. Schedule V is considered the least dangerous and may have recognized medical applications. The type of felony charged depends on the type and amount of the drug in the case. Fines can range from $5,000 to $100,000. There are mandatory prison sentences for some drug convictions. There are no mandatory minimum sentences for misdemeanors.

Drug Laws Continue to Evolve

A persistent felony offender in New York is convicted of a felony after having been convicted previously of two or more felony crimes, essentially a version of a three-strikes law. In addition, New York still has in law a habitual offender law that passed in 1926, though the original law has been amended several times.

The original law mandated life sentences for a fourth felony conviction (not only drug cases), regardless of the seriousness of the crime. Then-Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill in 1932 that made fourth offenders eligible for parole after 15 years in prison. In 1936, the law was further amended to require indeterminate sentences between 15 years and life.

After years of failing to curb New York’s drug problem, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller spearheaded the passing of some of the strictest drug laws in the country in the early 1970s. Prison populations exploded with many non-violent, first-time offenders serving a lengthy sentence. The pendulum began to swing the other way. George Pataki signed a law in 2004 that reduced mandatory minimums for the most serious drug offenses from 15 to 8 years. That was followed by Gov. David Paterson who signed a bill that eliminated mandatory minimums for all first-time drug offenders except for those convicted of A-I and A-II felonies. The law also eliminated mandatory sentences for second-time C, D, and E offenders.

Take Drug Charges Seriously

Without skilled legal representation, even first-time offenders can face serious prison time and fines. At Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC, we understand the serious penalties and how the consequences can affect every aspect of your life. Losing your job, your relationships, and your freedom are only the beginning of how you can be impacted.

If you or someone you love has been accused of a drug crime, put our years of experience to work for you. We will look at every aspect of your case to aggressively fight the charges.

For a no-cost consultation, contact us online or call (516) 218-5131.