Knowingly and intentionally possessing a controlled substance is a serious charge in Chester County as possession may denote a substance abuse problem, which can be at the root of other crimes. When an individual is convicted of possessing a controlled substance, the courts look to rehabilitation as a means of correcting behaviors and protecting society. For repeat offenders, the court often skips rehabilitation because there is typically a prior warning and treatment.
Because of the various possible outcomes, it is essential to have the representation of an experienced drug attorney when facing drug charges. Only then can a defendant ensure that their rights are protected and that all possible avenues are researched. An experienced Chester County drug possession lawyer can assist in reaching a strong outcome.
There are three main things a person should know about local drug possession law. First, Chester County takes possession crimes seriously, and, therefore, to treat these charges as a trivial matter would be a mistake. Second, area courts prefer to rehabilitate and treat a person who is facing these charges for the first time. However, if there are subsequent violations, the accused is more likely to face a significant period of incarceration, if convicted. Finally, if an individual successfully completes the required diversionary program, it is possible for the crime to be expunged from their record, however, to ensure this process it is imperative that a drug possession attorney in Chester County is consulted.
The penalties for possession of illegal drugs vary based on the amount of the drug possessed. Generally, an individual that is charged with possession of a street level drug, as a first offense, in Chester County, faces as much as one year in jail and $5,000 fine. Additionally, as a subsequent conviction, the penalty is up to three years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Diversionary programs are available to individuals charged with possession of a controlled substance. Those diversionary programs involve treatment or rehabilitation and, if successfully completed, the accused may be eligible to have their record cleared. Chester County also has multiple drug treatment courts, DUI treatment courts, and other intermediate punishment programs. All of the diversionary programs are helpful in different ways, and are all ultimately designed to help the accused overcome substance abuse addiction should that be required.
The most significant issues that arise in these types of cases tend to be constitutional. For instance, the police may illegally stop a vehicle and search the person and their belongings. In that case, any evidence that it was obtained by police should not be admitted against the accused at a trial, and a Chester County drug possession attorney will make sure to bring this to the court’s attention.
When challenging the evidence, a motion to suppress is filed that will challenge the Fourth and 14th Amendments of United States Constitution as well as Article 1 section 8 of the Pennsylvania constitution. These sections provide protections for individuals that are even greater than that of an individual’s charge in the federal court.
The primary mistake to avoid in drug possession cases is to take them less seriously than the matter warrants. Individuals will often enter the court room with inexperienced lawyers or opt to represent themselves and enter guilty pleas, all without realizing the implications that a conviction for possession can have on their future. A possession conviction can prevent a person from going to school to pick up their kids and affect their ability to secure or maintain employment, among others. There are lots of consequences of a guilty verdict for possession and these consequences can affect almost every aspect of a person’s life.
It is essential to contact an experienced Chester County drug possession lawyer when accused with possession because a conviction can wreak havoc on a person’s future. It is the type of crime that can affect matters in family court, criminal court, immigration court, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
There is also a social stigma that can impact the employability of the accused.
Attorneys will review these facts, determine whether they warrant approaching the case from a constitutional grounds perspective or another angle. They will also determine whether a diversionary program is an option, which would take the case out of criminal court. Having the right lawyer allows you to protect your rights while ensuring that the case is handled as professionally and expeditiously as possible.