Drug possession charges can lead to many years in prison if a person is convicted under New York's drug laws. While this result may seem clear cut when the charged person is arrested in actual possession of the drugs, it may be more confusing to hear of a person's conviction when the person does not have the drugs in hand at the time of arrest. However, through constructive possession, the government can prosecute and secure a conviction for drug possession for a person who is not in physical possession of the drugs at the time of the arrest.
Federal drug allegations are serious matters. Many federal drug prosecutions involve potential mandatory minimum prison terms that require convicted drug offenders to spend a minimum amount of time behind bars. One of the most serious types of drug-related convictions - for participating in a conspiracy - can punish the defendant for the actions of others, resulting in liability for more than the amount of drugs the person sold or possessed himself. A recent opinion handed down by a federal appellate court places limitations on the government's ability to charge drug offenders with conspiracy for simply purchasing drugs from a group of drug dealers.
When an individual is convicted of a felony, he or she loses his right to lawfully possess firearms. If an individual is convicted of a felony drug offense or other felony, he is barred by federal law from possessing guns. The recent Supreme Court case Henderson v. United States involved the question of whether or not convicted felons are allowed to dictate where their firearms go after their conviction. Can a felon sell his or her previously seized firearms, or does the felon's gift or sale of those firearms constitute the possession that is prohibited by federal law? The Court ruled that a convicted felon can tell federal agencies to transfer his guns to third parties unless this transfer would allow the felon to later control or direct the use of those firearms.