Most in Hamburg may automatically assign guilt to those charged with drug possession. Their thoughts may be that law enforcement officials would have no reason to bring such charges if a controlled substance was not found to be in an individual's possession. A closer look at the state's drug laws may reveal, however, that an allegation of possession may be applied rather loosely.
Section 220.25 of New York's Penal Law states that when a controlled substance is found in open view inside of a private room or vehicle, the presumption is that it is in the possession of each and every person that was in the immediate area. Thus, one could be in such an area where drugs are found, with no prior knowledge of their presence nor any intent to use them or distribute them, and still potentially end up facing drug charges.
Just how severe are the charges that one may face? The state bases the type of criminal penalty associated with drug possession off the type of substance found. Controlled substances are broken down into five schedules, ranging from opiates and hallucinogens to prescription medications. One can find a listing of the exact drugs in each schedule in Section 3306 of the state's Public Health Laws.
Certain types of drugs may be shared between categories. That is because drug schedules are typically not designated by exact drug types, but rather their potential for abuse. The substances in Schedules I, II and III have a high potential for abuse. The difference between the three is whether the drugs found in each category have medical uses. Schedules IV and V contain drugs that have a lower potential for abuse and whose use is widespread in the medical community.