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Assemblyman
Stephen Hawley
Assembly District 139
 
Hawley Votes To Put Victims Before Criminals
March 4, 2009

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia) joined a bipartisan group of members in voting against the proposed changes to the Rockefeller Drug Laws, contained in Assembly Bill 6085. Despite strong bipartisan opposition, the one-house bill was passed by the Assembly today.

“While there is no question that people suffering from alcohol and drug addictions need treatment, this bill puts criminals before victims yet again. Moreover, by dramatically increasing the drug weights required for a conviction, this bill helps encourage increased drug trafficking and makes it easier for criminals to ‘get away with it,’” said Hawley, who, as a member of the Assembly Rules Committee, also voted against bringing the flawed legislation to the floor.

The Assemblyman stated, “We need to take proactive measures to keep drugs off our streets. In order to accomplish that, I believe we must make the penalties for committing drug offenses stricter – not lighter. Not only does this bill lessen the punishment for breaking the law, it also ties the hands of prosecutors who are trying to keep our communities safe.”

More specifically, the legislation increases the weight of drugs related to felony possession and sale offenses, including the following felony charges:

Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance:

  • Class A-1 felony conviction in the first degree: increases the weight from 5,760 milligrams of Methadone to 11,520 milligrams (over two pounds);
  • Class A-II felony conviction in the second degree:

    • Methamphetamines: increases the weight from 2 ounces to 4 ounces;
    • Stimulants: increases the weight from 10 grams to 20 grams;
    • Methadone: increases the weight from 2,880 milligrams to 5,760 milligrams;
    • Lysergic Acid: increases the weight from 25 milligrams to 50 milligrams;
    • Hallucinogens: increases the weight from 625 milligrams to 1,250 milligrams; and
    • Hallucinogenic Substances: increases the weight from 25 grams to 50 grams.
  • Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance:

    • Class A-1 felony conviction in the first degree: increases the weight of a narcotic substance from 2 ounces to 4 ounces and from 2,880 milligrams of methadone to 5,760 milligrams;

  • Class A-II felony conviction in the second degree:

    • Narcotics: increases the weight from ½ ounce to 1 ounce;
    • Methamphetamines: increases the weight from ½ ounce to 1 ounce;
    • Stimulants: increases the weight from 5 grams to 10 grams;
    • Lysergic Acid: increases the weight from 5 milligrams to 10 milligrams;
    • Hallucinogens: increases the weight from 125 milligrams to 250 milligrams;
    • Hallucinogenic Substances: increases the weight from 5 grams to 10 grams;
    • Methadone: increases the weight from 360 milligrams to 720 milligrams.

These changes that the bill proposes equate to an increase of thousands more having increased access to illegal drugs. For example, the class A-I felony conviction of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance under current law requires 2 ounces of cocaine. This amount of cocaine can be divided into as many as 4,000 individual doses at a total street market of $50,000. The bill voted on today would increase that to 8,000 people at an estimated street value of $100,000 in order for the drug dealer to face felony charges and conviction.

Additionally, the bill proposes to make drugs found in “grabbable areas,” such as automobiles or in open view of a room, to a permissive inference instead of presumptive inference, as it is under current law. This means that anyone within the “grabbable area” would not face felony charges unless it was proven beyond a reasonable doubt that they are the actual owner of the drug. As Hawley explains, “This is just another way that this bill would make the job of prosecutors more difficult because there is no presumption that requires the occupants to assist in identifying the actual owner to exonerate themselves. That’s not a commonsense solution.” Both the New York State District Attorneys Association and the State Department of Correctional Services are opposed to the bill.

 
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