Westchester Heroin Possession Attorney
Possession of heroin in New York is a serious offense whether using it, selling it or both. If convicted, sentences can be even longer for repeat offenders. New York State prisons and federal prisons are full of inmates convicted of drug-related crimes.
Sometimes trouble with the law results in being unfairly charged. If you have been arrested for heroin possession in New York, it is important that you get a highly experienced Westchester heroin possession attorney right away. In Westchester, criminal defense attorney Michael Litman has represented many clients charged with drug offenses.
The Scope of Heroin Use in the U.S.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2016 about 948,000 Americans reported using heroin in the past year, that number that has been on the rise since 2007. This trend appears to be driven largely by young adults aged 18–25 among whom there have been the greatest increases. The number of people using heroin for the first time is high, with 170,000 people starting heroin use in 2016, nearly double the number of people in 2006 (90,000). In contrast, heroin use has been declining among teens aged 12–17. Past-year heroin use among the nation’s 8th, 10th, and 12th graders is at its lowest levels since 1991, at less than 1% in each grade level.
It is no surprise that with heroin use on the rise, more people are experiencing negative health effects that occur from repeated use. The number of people meeting Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV), criteria for dependence or heroin use disorder increased dramatically from 214,000 in 2002 to 626,000 in 2016, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Fentanyl in Heroin
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Recently, traces of fentanyl have been found in many other illegal drugs, including heroin. This is a public health concern, because the strength of fentanyl makes overdosing more likely.
Why Hire a Heroin Possession Attorney?/
Drug charges are notoriously difficult to defend given the current crackdown to quell opioid use and overdoses. You are wise to hire an experienced, time-tested Westchester County heroin possession attorney with a track record of success to handle your case. After spending years in courtrooms, client meetings and law school, an experienced lawyer has seen it all and knows how to craft a defense that makes the law work in your favor. If you’re thinking about defending yourself in court, don’t. It’s not a good choice. Rely instead on the training and wisdom of an experienced heroin possession attorney.
Short-Term Effects of Heroin Use
Once heroin enters the brain, it is converted to morphine and binds rapidly to opioid receptors. People who use heroin typically report feeling a surge of pleasurable sensation—a "rush." The intensity of the rush is a function of how much drug is taken and how rapidly the drug enters the brain and binds to the opioid receptors. With heroin, the rush is usually accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and a heavy feeling in the extremities. Nausea, vomiting, and severe itching may also occur. After the initial effects, users usually will be drowsy for several hours; mental function is clouded; heart function slows; and breathing is also severely slowed, sometimes enough to be life-threatening. Slowed breathing can also lead to coma and permanent brain damage.
Long-Term Effects of Heroin Use
Repeated heroin use changes the physiology and physical structure of the brain, creating imbalances in neuronal systems that are not easily reversed. Studies have shown some deterioration of the brain’s white matter due to heroin use, which may affect decision-making abilities and responses to stressful situations, the National Institutes of Health states. Heroin also produces significant degrees of tolerance and physical dependence.
Withdrawal can begin within a few hours after the last time the drug is taken. Symptoms of withdrawal include muscle and bone pain, diarrhea, vomiting, restlessness, cold flashes with goose bumps, insomnia, and leg movements. Significant withdrawal symptoms peak between 24–48 hours after the last dose and subside after about a week. Some people have shown persistent withdrawal signs for many months.
Repeated heroin use often results in a chronic relapsing disease called “heroin use disorder” that goes beyond physical dependence and is characterized by uncontrollable drug-seeking, no matter the consequences. Heroin is highly addictive no matter how it is ingested, although pathways that allow it to reach the brain the fastest (i.e., smoking and injection) increase the risk of developing heroin use disorder. Once a person has heroin use disorder, finding, procuring and using the drug is the only thing in life that matters.
New York Heroin Possession Laws
Knowingly possessing any amount of heroin is a Class A misdemeanor. Possession can become a felony as follows:
- Over 500 mg.: Class D felony
- Over 1/8 oz.: Class C felony
- Over 1/2 oz.: Class B felony
- Over 4 oz.: Class A-II felony
- Over 8 oz.: Class A-I felony
- Any amount of a controlled substance with the intent to sell: Class D felony
- Any amount of narcotic drug with intent to sell: Class B felony.
New York Heroin Sale and Trafficking Laws
Knowingly selling any amount is a Class D felony, but this can increase as follows:
- Over 1/2 oz.: Class A-II felony
- Over 2 oz.: Class A-I felony
- On school grounds or sale to someone under 21: Class B felony.
A conviction of being a major trafficker is considered a Class A-I felony.
Westchester Heroin Possession AttorneyIn an effort to crack down on the opioid epidemic, police can be overly zealous in charging citizens with drug crimes, even when they have inadequate evidence under the law. If you feel you’ve been unfairly charged, contact Westchester, NY heroin lawyer Michael Litman at (917) 554-8231 for an analysis of your case. Michael has an intimate knowledge of the criminal justice system, and he is well-versed on the threshold of evidence required to get a conviction.
Prescription Opioid Pain Medications Can Be a Gateway to Heroin
Research now suggests that misuse of prescription opioid medications such as Oxycontin, Vicodin and Demerol may open the door to heroin use. Some users also report switching to heroin because it is cheaper and easier to obtain than prescription opioids.
Heroin possession attorney Michael Litman understands how prescription drug use can evolve into heroin use. What started as prescribed medication after surgery or for a painful injury can sometimes lead to experimenting with heroin. Often it’s not the person’s fault. If you have trouble with the law related to heroin, contact Westchester County heroin possession lawyer Michael Litman at (917) 554-8231 an effective evaluation of your individual circumstances.
Opioid Overdose Deaths in Westchester on the Rise
- 2014: 67 deaths
- 2015: 83 deaths
- 2016: 124 deaths
Opioid Overdose Deaths in New York State Soaring
- 2014: 1,153 deaths
- 2015: 1,520 deaths
- 2016: 1,990 deaths
Federal Bureau of Prisons Statistics
A scary aspect of heroin possession and the criminal justice system are the harsh sentences imposed by judges upon conviction. That’s why having an experienced drug attorney at your side is so important.
- By far, the greatest majority of inmates in U.S. federal prisons are there for drug-related offenses (77,649 people). Weapons offenders are a distant second at 30,438 inmates.
- The number of drug offenders in federal prisons jumped 63% from 1998 to 2012.
- Heroin offenders account for 6% of the federal prison population.
- The majority of federal inmates range in age from 26 to 46 years old.
- 25% of federal prison inmates are serving a sentence of 5-10 years.
- 21% of federal inmates are serving a sentence of 10-15 years.
- The average sentence for federal drug offenders is 11.3 years.
Sources: Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Department of Justice
Drug War Statistics
Did you know...
- Amount spent annually in the U.S. on the war on drugs: $58+ billion
- Number of arrests in 2017 in the U.S. for drug law violations: 1,632,921
- Number of drug arrests that were for possession only: 1,394,514 (85.4 percent)
- Number of people arrested for a marijuana law violation in 2017: 659,700
- Percentage of people arrested for drug law violations who are Black or Latino: 9%(despite making up just 31.5% of the U.S. population)
- Number of people in the U.S. incarcerated in 2016: 2,205,300– the highest incarceration rate in the world
- Number of people in the U.S. incarcerated for a drug law violation in 2016: 456,000
- Number of people in the U.S. who died from an accidental drug overdose in 2017: 72,000
- Number of states that have decriminalized or removed the threat of jail time for simple possession of small amounts of marijuana: 22
- Number of people killed in Mexico's drug war since 2006: 200,000+
- Number of people killed in the Philippines drug war since 2016: 12,000
- Number of students who have lost federal financial aid eligibility because of a drug conviction: 200,000+
Source: Drug Policy Alliance
Penalties and Sentences
In New York, conviction for the sale of a controlled substance is a felony. Felonies range from a fifth-degree level (punishable by 1 - 2.5 years in prison for first-time offenders), to first-degree, punishable by:
- Minimum 8 - 20 years in prison for minor drug traffickers, followed by 5 years of post-release supervision; or
- Minimum 12 - 20 years in prison for second felony drug offenders; or
- From 15 years to life in prison for major drug traffickers.
Fines range from $5,000 (or double the defendant's gain from sale) to $100,000 for first-degree sale or major drug trafficking.
Help Is Available for Addiction Issues
If you are worried that a heroine arrest could signal a deeper problem with addiction for you, know that there is help available. Many 12-Step groups, churches and non-profits within your community offer free or low-cost opportunities to talk to a counselor or gather with others who are working to stay clean and sober. In-patient treatment facilities are also available. You can find more information about all of these on the internet by typing key words like “help for heroin use” or “drug recovery.” One or more heroin arrests does not have to signal a difficult or hopeless future.
Contact Michael Litman, Westchester County Heroin Possession Lawyer
If you have been arrested for heroin possession in New York, you need a highly experienced heroin possession attorney to defend you. Michael Litman has been defending clients charged with criminal offenses since 2007. He founded the Law Office of Michael D. Litman in 2014, to focus on the criminal defense needs of the citizens of White Plains, Westchester County and the New York City Metro area. We have the knowledge and the experience to help with all of your criminal and DWI defense needs. If you have questions or need to set up a consultation, contact us online or call us today. Our firm will work with you from your arrest all the way through to trial.
For answers to your questions or to set up a consultation, contact us online or call us at 914.499.0571.