There are a variety of different types of drug crimes that can be charged in Pennsylvania. The various drug offenses are penalized differently by the courts and depend on several factors, including your intent, the type of drug, the amount, your criminal history, and other factors. Knowing the potential consequences and the different types of drug crimes can help you to understand what you might expect if you are charged. The legal team at DiCindio Law can help you to understand your charges and the options that are available to you. Here is an overview of the different types of drug crimes in Pennsylvania.
Simple possession of drugs
It is illegal to possess controlled substances in Pennsylvania under both state and federal laws. However, if you have a valid prescription for a scheduled drug, you are exempt from prosecution. Many substances are illegal under the law, including LSD, methamphetamines, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. Pennsylvania does allow the possession of small amounts of marijuana for medical purposes for people who have medical licenses, but the recreational use of marijuana is illegal in the state. You can also be charged with simple possession if you are found to possess a controlled prescription drug without a valid prescription.
If you are found to have a small amount of illegal drugs for your personal use, you might face misdemeanor charges and the potential for a fine and jail time. To prove that you illegally possessed a drug, the prosecutor will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew that you had the drug in your possession and that it was illegal. The penalties for simple possession of drugs are much lower than the penalties for possession of drugs with the intent to deliver or distribute them.
Possession with the intent to sell or distribute drugs
Possessing drugs with the intent to sell or distribute them carries more serious penalties than simple possession. The police might charge you with this offense if you are found with a large amount of drugs, have scales or baggies, or observed you loitering in an area that is known for drug sales. Possession with the intent to distribute is commonly charged as a felony carrying the potential for a prison sentence and a substantial fine.
Possession of drug paraphernalia
You can be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia if you are found with the tools needed to sell, store, create, or consume drugs even if you are not found with the actual drugs. If you are found with drugs and with paraphernalia, you can be charged with two offenses, including the possession offense and the drug paraphernalia offend.
Some examples of drug paraphernalia that can result in charges include the following:
Normally, a combination of these items will result in charges. For example, if you are found with a package of baggies, that would not be enough to charge you with a crime. However, if you are found with small baggies together with a scale and other indicators of drug use or sales, you could be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
Manufacturing or cultivating drugs
Drug manufacturing or cultivation can result in serious felony charges. If you are caught with the materials and equipment to manufacture drugs, you can face these types of charges. A conviction will typically result in a prison sentence, stiff fines, and a felony on your record. If you are found guilty of manufacturing or cultivating drugs near a school, your sentence can be doubled.
Drug trafficking is among the most serious drug charges that can be charged. If you are caught importing, selling, smuggling, or transporting illegal drugs, the punishment can be severe. Drug trafficking is a serious felony. The penalties that you might face will depend on the quantity of drugs that are found by the police, the location of where they are distributed, the type of drugs, and whether you targeted minors. Drug trafficking can be prosecuted under both state and federal laws.
Factors influencing the penalties for drug crimes
Typically, the penalties for different drug convictions increase with the number of prior drug convictions.
Courts consider several factors when determining the penalties to impose, including the following:
- Whether it is your first, second, or subsequent conviction
- The nature of your prior drug convictions
- How much time has elapsed between your current charge and your past drug conviction
- The weight or amount of the drug in your possession
- The type of drug that you possessed
- How the drugs were packaged
- Whether the amount of drugs was small or large
If you had large quantities of drugs in your possession, you will likely face felony charges and the potential for a long prison sentence regardless of whether it is your first or subsequent offense. If it is your first offense for simple possession, the penalties will be less severe and might allow you to avoid jail time.
Get help from DiCindio Law for drug crimes
Regardless of the severity of your drug charges, you should get help from an experienced drug crimes attorney. An experienced attorney might have a better chance of mitigating the penalties that you might face. At DiCindio Law, Michael DiCindio is a skilled defense lawyer who used to work as a prosecuting attorney. He understands how the state prosecutes drug offenses and can work to develop a strong defensive approach. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling us at 610.430.3535.