Is it Illegal to Possess Certain Drugs Without a Valid Prescription in New York?

The possession of illegal drugs in New York can result in a series of harsh legal consequences, including steep fines, jail time, and a permanent criminal record. Due to the drug epidemic we see in today’s society, many people are confused about whether it’s illegal to be in possession of certain drugs without a valid prescription. While it’s not a crime for you to take your medication, it is a crime once these drugs are placed into the hands of another. This is because it becomes an illegal controlled substance. If you’re facing charges for the illegal possession of prescription drugs, you should connect with a seasoned Rockland County Drug Possession Attorney who can help guide you through your legal options. 

How Does New York Classify Controlled Substances?

Being in possession of controlled substances without a valid medical prescription is illegal in New York. The penalties you may face for this crime will vary widely according to the type and amount of substance involved. It’s crucial to understand that controlled substances are divided into five categories called “schedules,” which are based on the probability of abuse and medical value. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous as they have the highest likelihood of addiction and no recognized medical value. Schedule V drugs have the lowest probability of abuse. Prescription drugs typically range from Schedule II to Schedule IV. Depending on the schedule the prescription drug falls under, you could be looking at a misdemeanor or felony offense.

What Are the Penalties For the Illegal Possession of Prescription Drugs in New York?

To understand the penalties for possessing prescription drugs without a valid prescription, you must first understand the crime of “Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medications and Prescriptions” under the Criminal Diversion Act. Under New York Penal Law, Article 178, a criminal diversion act is where one knowingly transfers, delivers, or receives something of monetary value in exchange for a prescription medication without a valid prescription. In New York, if you are in possession of prescription drugs for which you do not have a valid prescription, you will face harsh legal consequences.

  • Fourth-degree offense: Simple possession is a Class A misdemeanor involving the criminal diversion of prescription medication and prescriptions. It can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year of incarceration.
  • Third-degree offense: If you are in possession of prescription drugs that exceed a monetary value of $1,000 or if this is your second conviction for a fourth-degree offense, you will face a Class E felony. This is punishable with jail time of up to four years.
  • Second-degree offense: If the prescription drugs’ monetary value exceeds $3,000, this is a Class D felony. It can result in up to seven years of incarceration.
  • First-degree offense: If the prescription drugs’ monetary value exceeds $50,000, this is a Class C felony punishable by up to 15 years of incarceration.

Given the high stakes of a conviction, please don’t hesitate to contact a determined attorney from The Law Office of Carl Spector, who can effectively represent your interests and maximize your chances of achieving the best possible outcome for your case.