Possession of a Controlled Substance in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania, like all other states, has regulations governing the possession of controlled substances and the penalties for violating the state laws on controlled substances. However, while all states regulate the possession of controlled substances, state law differs on what is classified as a controlled substance and the penalties for possessing certain substances.

Pennsylvania Law on Possession of a Controlled Substance

 

What Pennsylvania Classifies as a Controlled Substance

In Pennsylvania, the controlled substances that are subject to possession laws include common street drugs such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, etc. However, Pennsylvania also regulates the elements used to compose these drugs. The penalties for illegally possessing controlled substances differ from the possession of the components used to make these substances. Additionally, the penalties for possession of controlled substances may vary depending on how it is scheduled and whether or not you are charged with intent to deliver.

Controlled Substance Schedules and Penalties

As an initial matter, the possession of any substance classified as a controlled substance under Pennsylvania law is illegal without a valid medical prescription. Pennsylvania, like most states, categorizes controlled substances into five different schedules. Schedule I substances are the most addictive and dangerous. Additionally, they have been determined to have no medical benefit. As such, possession of a controlled substance that falls into Schedule I under Pennsylvania law will always result in a violation of illegal possession of a controlled substance.

For controlled substances classified in Schedules II-V, it is illegal to possess such substances without a valid medical prescription. The different schedules are intended to categorize substances based on how their potential danger and the value of their medicinal use. As such, Schedule II substances are seen as more dangerous when their medical benefit is weighed against their potential for abuse. Considered less dangerous are Schedule III, IV, and Schedule V, with Schedule V considered the least dangerous of the five schedules of substances, with the most potential for medical benefits.

Why the Schedule Classification of a Controlled Substance Matters

If charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver in the state of Pennsylvania the penalties will generally be more severe for the higher level scheduled substances compared to the lower ones. However, there will be exceptions to this. This is why it is a good idea to understand every element if you are charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession with the intent to deliver.

Penalties for Possession of a Controlled Substance in Pennsylvania

Without a valid medical prescription to possess a controlled substance, it is illegal in Pennsylvania to have in your possession a substance classified as a controlled substance. For first violations, a charge of unlawful possession carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Subsequent charges of illegal possession of controlled substances have higher penalties. Another conviction of possessing a controlled substance in Pennsylvania without a valid medical prescription can result in more potential jail exposure.

Other Penalties for Possession Related to Controlled Substances

Certain substances cannot be possessed without a legitimate use. Moreover, other controlled substance precursors are illegal if they are possessed with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance. Penalties for unlawful possession of these substances in Pennsylvania can include a fine of up to $15,000 and prison time of up to seven years.

Related Laws on Possession of a Controlled Substance in Pennsylvania

 

Possession of a controlled substance With Intent to Distribute

Possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute that substance typically carries higher charges and penalties. This charge will depend on factors such as the amount in your possession and what type of substance it was. In Pennsylvania, the laws vary substantially depending on the kind of substance and other pertinent factors such as past criminal background, drug packaging, and whether there was money involved. This list is not exhaustive, so it is wise to seek legal advice if you are unsure of your circumstances and believe you could be facing these charges.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Pennsylvania law also prohibits the possession of drug paraphernalia. The definition is widespread and includes many devices that could be used to transport, use, make, distribute, or consume a controlled substance.

Separate Offenses

If you are charged with violating multiple laws surrounding possession of a controlled substance in Pennsylvania, such as possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, then each offense counts as a separate offense. That will mean that each conviction will carry its own fines and penalties, which can add up substantially.

Defenses to Charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance in Pennsylvania

There are potential defenses to a charge of possession of a controlled substance in Pennsylvania. Some of these include:

  • Situations in which the police discovered the substance in a non-legal situation (e.g., without a valid warrant to search an individual’s car or home)
  • Instances where the warrant was deficient in some manner that violates the individual’s Constitutional rights
  • Situations where there is insufficient evidence to prove that the individual had actual possession of the controlled substance.
  • The laws on this are complicated, so it is wise to consult an experienced attorney to learn more about what possible defenses you may have and the nuances involved.

Protect Yourself and Contact an Attorney Today if You are Charged With Possession of a Controlled Substance

Given the high fines, penalties, and possible incarceration time, if you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance or a component used to manufacture controlled substances, then you may want to contact an attorney with expertise in this area. The laws on this are complicated, and it is crucial to understand the charges that you are facing to understand your options and the potential consequences.

If you are concerned about a potential charge of possession of a controlled substance in Pennsylvania and need help understanding the legality and consequences for your situation, fill out our contact form. Someone will get back to you to discuss the specifics of your case and how we may be able to help.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

When most people think about a DUI, they visualize someone driving after drinking alcohol. However, alcohol is only one of many different substances that can impair your ability to safely drive a car. If you drive while you are under the influence of a drug, you can also be charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania. If you are facing charges of a DUI-D, the attorneys at DiCindio Law might be able to help you.

Driving after you have taken drugs, including certain prescription medications, marijuana, and illegal drugs, can impair your driving and result in a DUI charge. Having a prescription for your medication is not necessarily always a defense to a DUI-D.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 12.8 million people drove while they were under the influence of drugs in 2017. in 2016, 43.6% of drivers who were drug tested after accidents in which someone was killed were positive for one or more drugs.

Different drugs have different effects on drivers. Drugs that impair your concentration, motor skills, judgment, or alertness are just as dangerous as alcohol.

How is drug impairment measured?

All of the states have made driving with a blood alcohol concentration that is above a certain level illegal. In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. It is fairly easy to measure your impairment when you are stopped by a law enforcement officer in many cases. By contrast, it is not as easy to measure other types of drugs and your level of impairment.

For instance, THC in marijuana can be detected in your blood for typically around 30 days after use. There is no way to determine actual impairment from marijuana at a given time based solely on levels in the system, alone. On the other hand, cocaine leaves your body in just a couple of days.

Some law enforcement agencies use drug recognition experts or DREs. These are police officers who have undergone training to determine the level of impairment from drugs in motorists. DREs look for cues such as your eye movements and behavior that might point to being under the influence of drugs. Typically, the presence of drugs in your blood or urine are tested using a urine test or blood screen.

Drugged driving per se

While it can be harder to prosecute motorists for DUI-D offenses, Pennsylvania is one of 15 states that has a drugged driving per se law. Under 75 Pa. § 3802, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle with any detectable level of certain types of drugs in your system. Under the statute, you cannot drive if you have any detectable amount of a Schedule I controlled substance in your blood. You also cannot drive if you have any detectable amount of a Schedule II or Schedule III drugs if you do not have a prescription for it. Finally, you can also be charged with a DUI-D per se charge if you have metabolites of these drugs in your blood.

Effects of different drugs

Drugs can have different effects on you and on your ability to drive. Here are the effects of different types of drugs.

  • Cocaine- Can cause euphoria, dizziness, excitement, increased alertness, disorientation, confusion, irritability, aggressiveness, paranoia, and rapid heart rate.
  • LSD- Can cause hallucinations, delusions, impaired space, time, and depth, altered mental state, high blood pressure, and tremors.
  • Marijuana- Can cause euphoria, relaxation, altered perception of space and time, disorientation, paranoia, drowsiness, distorted images, and increased heart rate.
  • Methamphetamine – Can cause excitement, euphoria, delusions, hallucinations, poor impulse control, insomnia, rapid heart rate, and high blood pressure.
  • Morphine and heroin- Can cause intense euphoria, relaxation, drowsiness, disconnectedness, sedation, analgesia, mental clouding, reduced heart rate, vomiting, nausea, and reduced reflexes.

Effects of prescription and over-the-counter drugs

Certain drugs that you are prescribed or that you can buy over-the-counter can still impair your driving. You should read the warning labels of your prescriptions and your OTC drugs. Here are some common prescription and OTC drugs that can impair you:

  • Antidepressants- Certain antidepressants are sedating and can cause impairment similar to alcohol.
  • Antihistamines- Some can slow reaction time and impair your coordination.
  • Valium- Taking 10 mg of this drug can impair you in a similar manner as when you have a BAC of 0.10% after drinking alcohol.
  • Sleeping pills- Sleeping pills can still have residual effects in the morning.
  • Decongestants- These drugs can cause you to feel anxious, dizzy, and drowsy.
  • Hydrocodone- This is an opiate and can cause similar effects as morphine.

Even though Pennsylvania has legalized medical marijuana, you can still be charged with a DUI-D if you are impaired at the time of driving.

Get legal help

Defending against a DUI-D can be tricky. If you are facing charges, it is important for you to seek legal help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer. At DiCindio Law, we understand the various types of defenses that might be available in a DUI-D case. We can review the facts and evidence in your case and explain the different options that you have available to you.

A DUI-D conviction can have serious consequences, including the potential for incarceration, steep fines, and other penalties. Even after you have completed your sentence, the conviction may cause long-lasting consequences on your life. You may have more trouble finding a job, finding housing, or securing educational loans. We will work to identify all of the defenses that might be available to you so that we can build the strongest defense case on your behalf. To learn more about the options that you might have, call DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation.

Possessing Instruments of Crimes

When an object or weapon is involved in the commission of a criminal offense, a common charge that will be levied against an individual is that of “Possessing Instruments of Crimes.” This charge is found in title 18 section 907 of the Pennsylvania Criminal Code.

What must be evaluated in these cases is whether or not the person intended to employ any instrument of crime in a criminal manner. Importantly, there need not be what is generally termed as a “weapon” in order to be found guilty of this offense. Unlike what most may generally think – a knife or a gun, an instrument of crime is defined as anything that fits with in the following definitions. First, anything specifically made or specifically adapted for criminal use. Second, anything used for criminal purposes and possessed by the actor under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful uses that it may have.  Finally, anything commonly used for criminal purposes and possessed by the actor under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful uses it may have.

An example of a situation where a normal everyday object may be viewed as an instrument of crime would be when a crowbar is used to break into somebody’s home or vehicle. That is not the lawful and intended purpose of a crowbar therefore it would fit under the definition of this crime.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or are the subject of a case where Possession of an Instrument of Crime is charged contact Mike DiCindio, Esq. and DiCindio Law, LLC directly today.

 

  • 907.  Possessing instruments of crime.

(a)  Criminal instruments generally.–A person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he possesses any instrument of crime with intent to employ it criminally.

(b)  Possession of weapon.–A person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he possesses a firearm or other weapon concealed upon his person with intent to employ it criminally.

(c)  Unlawful body armor.–A person commits a felony of the third degree if in the course of the commission of a felony or in the attempt to commit a felony he uses or wears body armor or has in his control, custody or possession any body armor.

(d)  Definitions.–As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

“Body armor.”  Any protective covering for the body, or parts thereof, made of any polyaramid fiber or any resin-treated glass fiber cloth or any material or combination of materials made or designed to prevent, resist, deflect or deter the penetration thereof by ammunition, knife, cutting or piercing instrument or any other weapon.

Criminal Defense Chester County

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

“Instrument of crime.”  Any of the following:

(1)  Anything specially made or specially adapted for criminal use.

(2)  Anything used for criminal purposes and possessed by the actor under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful uses it may have.

“Weapon.”  Anything readily capable of lethal use and possessed under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful uses which it may have. The term includes a firearm which is not loaded or lacks a clip or other component to render it immediately operable, and components which can readily be assembled into a weapon.


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Credit for Time Served in Inpatient Facilities – DUI Cases

Credit for Time Served In Inpatient Facilities – DUI Cases

When someone has been arrested and is pending trial there are decisions that need to be made based upon the needs of the person and the strategy of the case.  Some of these decisions will be made by the individual and others may be made or dictated to them by the Judge.  One of the decisions is whether or not someone needs to be placed into an inpatient rehabilitation facility in order to address a substance abuse issue.  Most often, this arises out of DUI or driving under the influence / driving while impaired cases.

Voluntary treatment is treated differently than Court ordered treatment

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney

What is important to know is that when someone is placed into inpatient as a condition of bail in lieu of pre-trial incarceration they are entitled to have that time spent in inpatient count against any jail sentence they may be later sentenced to. Commonwealth v. Cozzone, 593 A. 2d 860 (Pa. Super. 1991).  Alternatively, if someone voluntarily gone to inpatient on their own accord it may be credited towards their sentence but only if the sentencing Judge, in his/her discretion decides to grant the credit.

The lesson to take from this is that when someone is in the criminal system, facing incarceration and ends up in an inpatient rehabilitation for any reason – his attorney must evaluate any arguments about credit for time spent in rehab that may be available to the client in order to potentially limit the about of time in prison that ultimately must be served.

If you or a loved one needs representation on any criminal matter – contact Mike DiCindio, Esq. directly.


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Chester County Intermediate Punishment Program (IPP)

In our culture today one of the most common criminal charges, one that fills county dockets across state of Pennsylvania, is Driving Under the Influence (DUI). While many first-time offenders may be eligible for the ARD program (read more by clicking the link) there are many times where this is not offered or an individual is not eligible – possibly due to the facts and circumstances surrounding the DUI charge, possibly because of a prior criminal offenses or possibly it is not a first offense driving on the influence charge for the accused. In all of these cases, individuals who have been charged with a Driving Under the Influence / DUI offense face the potential of harsh mandatory incarceration sentences, potential supervision and conditions.

Mike DiCindio West Chester, PA Attorney

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

In these circumstances in Chester County, the Intermediate Punishment Program (IPP) is set up in a manner that allows first, second and potentially third offense Driving Under the Influence / DUI offenders to apply and, if deemed eligible and accepted by the court, receive a much less harsh imprisonment sentence mixed with electronic home confinement and community service.

While this Chester County Intermediate Punishment Program (IPP)  does not reduce the potential license suspension in these matters, it is a beneficial program when there are no legal arguments of merit that can be viewed as likely to win the case either before or at trial. In these matters, a skilled criminal lawyer may recommend this as the most beneficial potential outcome for a client.

It should be noted, in Chester County there are more offenses that may be eligible for the IPP program – still, the vast majority are DUI and DUI related suspension matters.

To read more about the IPP program or to see Chester County’s IPP chart go to the Chester County IPP website or contact DiCindio Law, LLC to speak to Mike DiCindio about your case today.


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

 

 

Heroin Overdose Cases

A major focus of law-enforcement recent years and especially in recent months has been in preventing heroin overdose deaths from occurring. Heroin overdose cases have become an epidemic that law-enforcement, legislators and the communities at large are trying to combat. With the vicious effects of a heroin overdose, people must act fast. It is not uncommon to have two users together when one of them overdoses. Many times, people would be fearful to report the overdoses for fear of prosecution in the matter – and people would lose their lives. Recently, legislation has been enacted which is aimed at ending these types of situations and deaths and stopping the risk of certain criminal charges in these situations.

Chester County criminal defense

Contact Chester County Criminal Lawyer Mike DiCindio to discuss your case today

The recently enacted law permits individuals to call law-enforcement, emergency medical services or 911 and report a heroin overdose. If they provide their name and identifying information and stay with the individual who is overdosing they will be immune for prosecution for certain minor offenses (those are enumerated in the amended law) and the individual who overdoses is also immune. It should not be viewed and is not intended to be viewed as a license to commit illegal conduct, instead, it is aimed at helping to minimize the frequency of deaths from heroin overdoses.

If you or a loved one has been arrested or prosecuted in the circumstance that seems similar to the one described above contact criminal defense lawyer DiCindio Law, LLC today law speak in detail to Mike DiCindio about the facts and circumstances and determine whether or not the amended legislation applies to your specific situation.


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Drug Paraphernalia..Do they have to prove it was to be used with drugs?

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer Mike DiCindio

Under Pennsylvania law, there is a statute that prohibits possessing anything for:

 

“The use of, or possession with intent to use, drug paraphernalia for the purpose of planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packing, repacking, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance in violation of this act.”

 

It may seem like a statute that encompasses a lot of circumstances and items – and it does. Still, what must be understood is that while many different items may seemingly “fit” under the statutes verbiage – the Commonwealth still has the burden to prove that the alleged drug paraphernalia was exactly that – drug paraphernalia.

 

How do they do that and what does it really mean? There is case law that states the Commonwealth must prove a specific intent that the item possessed or delivered was to be used with controlled substances.

 

Now, what does this mean – practically speaking?

 

The Commonwealth must provide more than the item itself. They must prove that there was the intent to use the item with/for/etc. a controlled substance. Further, a skilled criminal defense attorney should cross-examine the Commonwealth witnesses and potentially point out legal uses for the items claimed to be drug paraphernalia.

 

While there are many cases where there is other circumstantial or corroborative evidence that the item claimed to be drug paraphernalia was in fact just that – the law must be understood, and a knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense attorney will be aware of what the law requires and make sure the Commonwealth is made to meet its burden fully and completely.