Several gun- and drug-related charges against Brooklyn-based rapper Sidney Selby, known by his stage name “Desiigner,” were dropped in September after a criminal investigation failed to turn up evidence. Our Brooklyn drug possession lawyers examine the events that led to Desiigner’s arrest – and the penalties he (and other defendants) might have faced if convicted.
Gun Possession Charges Against “Panda” Rapper Desiigner Dropped for Lack of Evidence
Desiigner is best known for his hit single “Panda.” However, his latest appearance in the news has nothing to do with his music.
What started as a road rage incident in the Lincoln Tunnel led to felony criminal charges for the hip hop artist, who was arrested on Thursday, September 8. The rapper was initially charged with four crimes: criminal possession of a controlled substance, drug possession with intent to distribute, criminal possession of a weapon, and a little-known crime called “menacing,” which we’ll explain shortly.
The incident took place around 9:00 P.M., when the occupant of the other vehicle called 9-1-1 and claimed the rapper was pointing a gun at them. Police responded to the scene and allegedly discovered oxycodone (OxyContin) – a Schedule II drug – in the vehicle.
Desiigner, along with his driver and three passengers, were subsequently arrested and taken into custody. However, the rapper was released on Saturday, September 10 after his arraignment – an early stage of the criminal process where bail is set – in Manhattan Criminal Court.
At that time, the gun possession charges were dropped because, according to Selby’s criminal attorney, there was simply no firearm in the vehicle.
“There’s nothing here. There’s nothing recovered. There really is nothing here,” said Selby’s defense lawyer.
That the gun charges were dropped was fortunate for the defendant, because, as an experienced Brooklyn gun possession lawyer can tell you, New York City is extremely strict about regulating firearms. The criminal penalties for their use, or even ownership, can be severe.
Under Article 265 of the NY Penal Law, which covers more than a dozen weapons crimes, most gun-related offenses are felonies: extremely serious offenses that can lead to far greater penalties than misdemeanors. For example, depending on the circumstances, criminal possession of a weapon ranges from a Class A misdemeanor all the way up to a Class B felony, with the maximum sentence ranging anywhere from one year in jail to 25 years in prison.
Desiigner’s next court appearance has been scheduled for October 13.
Can a Passenger Be Charged with Drug Possession if the Car Contains Controlled Substances?
Prosecutors also dropped charges alleging the rapper had intent to sell drugs, a crime sometimes called “possession with intent to distribute” or PWID. However, those charges were not dropped against Desiigner’s driver, 42-year-old Scott Siegel, whose vehicle and gym bag were reportedly found to contain more than 300 pills. (Unlike his passengers, Siegel was also charged with forgery after active-duty firefighter plaques were discovered inside his vehicle.)
Drug sales and distribution is generally a more serious offense than possession for personal use, or simple possession, though both can lead to tough penalties. Depending on what sort of drug is involved and how much, drug possession can range from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class A felony, whereas selling drugs is, at minimum, a Class D felony (criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree).
In order for drug possession to be charged as a Class A felony – New York’s most serious type of crime – the drug or drugs in question must weigh at least eight ounces, unless the drug is methadone, in which case the weight threshold is 5,760 milligrams. From a prosecutor’s point of view, possession of such large quantities – far more than the small amounts that are normally kept for personal use – is an indicator that the defendant is involved in a sales operation.
Desiigner’s arrest is a good example of how passengers can be charged with drug possession in New York if narcotics are found in the driver’s car. In fact, provisions for this type of situation are written directly into New York’s criminal statutes. NY Penal Law § 220.25 states the following:
“The presence of a controlled substance in an automobile, other than [public transportation], is presumptive evidence of knowing possession [of the drug] by each and every person in the automobile at the time [the] controlled substance was found.”
However, the same statute also makes some exceptions. For instance, the above does not apply if the drugs were concealed on another passenger’s person (e.g. under their jacket, inside of a pocket). There are many defenses against Brooklyn drug charges which a skilled and experienced drug trafficking attorney may be able to use successfully.
Arrested for Assault in NYC? Contact Our Brooklyn Defense Lawyers
“Menacing,” which is loosely related to assault, is a crime most people have never heard of – until they are accused of committing it.
In New York, a person can be charged with menacing if he or she deliberately causes, or tries to cause, another person to fear for their life or safety. In most cases, menacing is a misdemeanor. However, this offense can also be charged as a felony if the person being menaced is a police officer, or if the defendant commits misdemeanor menacing and has certain types of prior menacing convictions.
If a loved one was arrested in Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens, make sure their rights are protected. Get legal help from a tough criminal defense attorney who has decades of experience handling felony and misdemeanor charges. For a free consultation, call the law offices of Sullivan & Galleshaw at (800) 730-0135.