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New York Criminal Defense Law Blog

Prescription painkillers contribute to the opioid crisis

The media has been widely reporting on the current epidemic facing the United States in terms of addiction and overdose deaths due to heroin use. What has been reported less widely, however, is the link between prescription painkillers and how their use may lead to addiction. Many people who are currently addicted to opioids, including the illegal drugs heroin and its synthetic counterparts such as fentanyl, may have become addicted first to a prescription painkiller. This is an important area to clarify and explore because beyond the high risk of death by overdose, an addiction that culminates in illegal drug use can lead to arrest and the potential for a conviction that may carry a heavy prison sentence.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse cited three studies in which researchers surveyed young people who injected heroin. The cited studies revealed that almost half of those surveyed said they had previously abused prescription opioids (this can include well-known prescription painkillers marketed under the brand names Oxycontin®, Vicodin®, and Demerol®).

U.S. drug war alive and well

The U.S. drug war is still alive and well in New York and across the nation, according to a report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The agency reports that overall drug arrests increased by 5.63 percent in 2016, with 1.57 million people taken into custody. That number is more than triple the combined arrest total for all violent crimes. Nearly 85 percent of all drug violation arrests were for drug possession.

Despite the American public's increasing support for the legalization of marijuana, the FBI reports that 41 percent of all 2016 drug arrests involved the substance. Further, most marijuana arrests were for simple possession.

When drug charges result from an unfair search and seizure

Drug charges can result from a number of different incidents. A sting, a routine traffic stop or an investigation may lead you to be charged with possession or another drug-related crime. Typically, to file such charges, law enforcement will perform a search and seizure to collect evidence against you. This practice, though typical, is controversial--and it may be unfairly performed. According to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, police in New York City perform thousands of stop and frisk or search and seizure procedures every year. The legality of such interactions is worth questioning, though, and there are a few things you should know if you have been subject to a search.

Police should have warrant

Generally speaking, for charges to be valid, the search that precedes the charges must also be legally valid. This means that cops typically will need to have a warrant to carry out the search and seizure. This may be either an arrest or search warrant, and a judge within the jurisdiction should approve it. 

3 charged with drug charges after active meth lab found

On Sept. 27, three New York residents were taken into custody after authorities allegedly discovered a working methamphetamine lab in a garage. According to Corning police, officers were called to a property on East 5th Street for a trespassing in progress.

When police arrived, they found three men on the property and the meth lab in the garage. The individuals were identified as a 26-year-old man with an unknown address, a 37-year-old man who had no current address and a 42-year-old Corning man. Each man was charged with third degree unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine and criminal possession of a controlled substances. The Corning man was additionally facing charges for obstructing governmental administration, unlawful possession of marijuana and resisting arrest.

Man facing felony drug charges after traffic stop

New York State Police took a 27-year-old man into custody on Sept. 16 after a substantial quantity of illegal drugs were recovered during a search of his vehicle. Troopers say that they conducted the search after pulling the man's car over for driving erratically and noticing a substance inside the vehicle that appeared to be crack cocaine. The man is facing a felony count of drug possession with the intent to distribute and a misdemeanor drunk driving charge. He was also cited for driving without a valid driver's license.

Troopers say that they decided to pull the man over after observing his vehicle crossing hazard markings on State Route 6 in Putnam County. They claim that the man showed signs of intoxication during a roadside interview and he was later charged with driving while under the influence, but initial reports do not indicate whether he took part in any sobriety testing or provided a breath sample at the scene or later.

Understanding a tampering with evidence charge

If a New York resident tries to conceal or alter evidence, that may constitute tampering. Evidence is roughly defined as anything that may be useful to a criminal investigation such as a document or a physical object. To provide tampering, it is first necessary to show that an individual intended to do so. Accidentally destroying or losing evidence is not necessarily tampering.

Furthermore, a person must know that what he or she is doing will interfere with an investigation. It also must be shown that a person knew that there was an ongoing investigation when evidence was discarded or destroyed. Tampering may be either a misdemeanor or felony charge, and it can carry penalties such as 20 years in a state prison for a felony conviction. A federal charge could result in 20 years in a federal prison.

Woman charged with drug possession after traffic stop

On Sept. 8, a 34-year-old woman was taken into custody by the New York State Police following a traffic stop. She was ultimately charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Authorities said that troopers observed her vehicle moving from her lane in an unsafe matter while on the interstate. While the trooper was talking to the female driver, the trooper reportedly smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. When the vehicle was searched, the trooper found about 3.95 grams of marijuana and three tabs of LSD. She was taken to Putnam County Jail and she was scheduled to return to court in mid-October.

5 accused of manufacturing meth during police check-in

New York police reportedly stopped at a Watertown apartment complex on Aug. 29 to do a routine check in with a parolee. When they arrived, however, they allegedly discovered a methamphetamine lab.

The apartment was located in the 300 block of William Street. Authorities reportedly stopped by at about 6 a.m. to complete a home visit. The officers were inside the apartment when they said they saw objects that are typically used to manufacture methamphetamine. As a result, they contacted the Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team. When the team arrived, they allegedly seized about 3 grams of a powder that was said to be meth.

Man convicted of meth trafficking sentenced

A 50-year-old New York man who was convicted on charges associated with drug possession has been sentenced to 51 months in jail. He had been convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more grams of methamphetamine.

On Oct. 27, 2016, authorities in Hamburg ran surveillance on a motel where the convicted man and a second man were staying after receiving a tip about potential drug trafficking activities occurring there. They conducted a traffic stop on the convicted man at about 9:15 when he left the motel. During a search of his vehicle, authorities reportedly found methamphetamine. They also conducted a search of the motel room. During this search, the police reportedly recovered more containers full of meth, drug packaging materials and several phones.

12 charged in suspected heroin trafficking ring

On Aug. 15, 12 people were indicted on drug trafficking charges after they were accused of moving large quantities of heroin from New York to two New Jersey counties. The indictment was unsealed in a federal court in Manhattan.

Authorities claimed that the 12 individuals all pooled their money to buy heroin in New York. They then allegedly packaged the drugs and sold it in Ocean and Monmouth counties. In particular, a 34-year-old Bronx man was accused of supplying a 24-year-old Paterson man and a 26-year-old Toms River man with heroin. These two individuals were then assisted by others in managing other aspects of the alleged drug trafficking ring, including the packing, storing and distribution of the heroin. A 40-year-old New Jersey man and a 30-year-old Manchester man reportedly helped distribute the drugs. Of the 12 indicted, one person reportedly was still at large.

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