If you are arrested and charged with possession with intent to deliver drugs in Pennsylvania, you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible. A charge of possession with intent to deliver is one of the most serious types of drug crimes. This charge means that you were allegedly in possession of drugs with the intent to distribute them and may result in years in prison if you are convicted. If you are found guilty of this offense, you will be sentenced under the state’s minimum mandatory sentencing laws. This means that you will be sentenced to at least the minimum sentence that is prescribed by the law, even if there were extenuating circumstances. Retaining an experienced drug crimes attorney at DiCindio Law may help you to achieve a more favorable outcome to your case.
When can possession with intent to deliver be charged?
In Pennsylvania, you may be charged with possession with intent to deliver drugs in the following scenarios:
- The police found you with a large number of illegal drugs beyond the amount that the police believe would have been for your personal use.
- The police saw you allegedly dealing with illegal drugs.
- The police found evidence that tends to demonstrate that you were engaged in dealing with drugs, including scales, large monetary sums, packaging materials, cell phones, and others.
- You were alleged to have given drugs to your friends to use.
If the police want to search your home or yard for drugs, they need to get a search warrant in most cases. Search warrants are issued by judges and are orders allowing law enforcement officers to enter and search a property for evidence. To get a search warrant, police officers must show that they have enough evidence to amount to probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and that evidence of the criminal offense will likely be found in the location to be searched.
When the police secure a search warrant, it gives them the legal right to enter and search your home or person. The police do not have to ask for your consent to search when they have a warrant.
In some limited circumstances, the police are allowed to search your home without a warrant. Some of the exceptions to the warrant requirement include:
- You consent to the search.
- Exigent circumstances exist
- The evidence is in plain sight
Warrantless searches that do not fall under one of these exceptions are illegal. If that occurs, your attorney may file a motion to ask the court to suppress the illegally obtained evidence. If your lawyer is successful with the motion, the evidence will be inadmissible in the state’s case against you.
If law enforcement officers come to your home to search it without a warrant, you should not consent to the search. Instead, you should tell them that they need to obtain a warrant. Do not speak any more to them. If the police come to your home with a warrant to search, you should retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you.
Depending on the scale of the drug offense, the police might have been surveilling you for months or years before arresting you. The police may have recordings of your telephone conversations and substantial amounts of information about you and your alleged drug crimes. Frequently, law enforcement officers also use confidential informants to try to uncover evidence about illegal activities.
How a charge of possession with intent to deliver can hurt you
The penalties for drug crimes in Pennsylvania depend on the type and amount of drugs that were involved, whether a weapon was used, prior convictions, and other factors. A charge of possession with intent to deliver is a felony in Pennsylvania.
The penalties for a conviction of possession with intent to deliver can be very serious. Pennsylvania uses sentencing guidelines that determine the gravity of the offense, with scores ranging from 1 to 15. People who have prior records will likely receive longer sentences, higher fines, and more community service hours.
If you are convicted of possession with intent to deliver, you will have a criminal record. A criminal record can negatively impact your ability to find a job, obtain professional licenses, get financial aid for college, or join the military.
Possession of drugs in Pennsylvania
Possession of drugs in Pennsylvania occurs when you have controlled substances in your possession. If the drug is something that can be legally prescribed, you can still face charges if you have it but do not have a valid prescription for it.
Prosecutors must prove the following elements for you to be convicted of unlawfully possessing a drug:
- You intentionally and knowingly possessed an illegal substance.
- You knew that the drugs were there and that they were illegal, and you intended to control or use them.
- You had constructive or actual possession of the drugs.
- Defending against drug delivery charges
The particular defenses that your attorney might raise in your case will depend on the circumstances. If the officers did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop or arrest you, your attorney may file a motion to suppress the evidence against you. If the police submitted faulty applications for a search warrant and did not have probable cause, your attorney may also be able to win the suppression of the evidence. If a suppression motion is successful and results in the drugs and other contraband to be ruled as inadmissible, the prosecutor may have no choice but to drop the charges against you.
You need to understand the difference between actual and constructive possession of drugs. You do not have to be caught with drugs in your physical possession to be convicted of possession with intent to deliver. The prosecutor may be able to secure a conviction by showing that you constructively possessed the drugs. This occurs when you knew about the drugs and had control over them. For example, if the drugs were stashed in a home, vehicle, or on the street, you could be charged even if you did not have the drugs on your person. A defense attorney may argue that you did not know that the drugs were present or that you did not have control over them. For example, if you were visiting a home when the police served a search warrant and found illegal drugs, your attorney may argue that you did not control the drugs and that your mere presence is not sufficient to result in a conviction.
In some cases, prosecutors may argue that you were involved in a conspiracy even if you never dealt with any drug buyers or touched the drugs. This type of charge may be disproved by securing witness statements and cross-examining the police. Finally, an attorney may be able to argue that you merely possessed the drugs and did not have the intent to deliver them. In Pennsylvania, the simple possession of drugs for your personal use is a misdemeanor that commonly carries a probationary sentence.
What to do if you have been charged with possession with intent to deliver
If the police have charged you with possession with intent to deliver, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Michael DiCindio, with DiCindio Law, has prior experience as a prosecutor and understands how to defend against serious drug crime allegations. He has worked with prosecutors and understands how the local prosecutors and court system work. You should avoid talking to the prosecutor or the police without an attorney. Your lawyer will review what happened before and after you were arrested and will assess the evidence to determine whether the police had probable cause to charge you.
If the police stopped you in your vehicle and discovered drugs, your attorney will analyze whether the police officer had reasonable suspicion to stop you and probable cause to search your vehicle. Contact DiCindio Law for an evaluation of your case and to learn about the rights that you may have by calling 610.430.3535 or by submitting your information through our online contact form.