Due to the opiate epidemic in Pennsylvania, law enforcement are focusing much of their efforts on drug offenses. Due to the epidemic, individuals are getting arrested for simple drug possession, even for one bag or one pill. An individual could be charged with possession in two ways. Actual possession means to have actual physical control over it, such as having something in your pocket or hand. The second way an individual could be charged is if an individual constructively possesses a drug. This means an individual knows where it is, previously controlled it, and intend to control it again. Sometimes when there is no actual possession, the prosecutors will try to prove a defendant had constructive possession of drugs.
If you have been accused of possessing narcotics, a Montgomery County drug possession lawyer could help you build a defense. Speak to a diligent drug lawyer to learn about your legal options and how you could avoid the consequences of a conviction.
It is possible for law enforcement to discover that a person is in possession of drugs while stopping them for an unrelated issue. For example, at the scene of an accident, if the person is involved in a car crash or during the course of a DUI arrest, the police could discover that an individual is possessing narcotics. Often times, police officers will set up surveillance or stop individuals if they see small hand-to-hand exchanges. In court, law enforcement will usually testify that based on the interaction, they believe that a drug deal took place.
Finally, during warrant searches of houses or cars, the police will search thoroughly for evidence of crimes and can recover anything illegal they find such as controlled substances unrelated to the reason they are serving their warrant. A skilled Montgomery County drug possession lawyer could investigate the stop and determine whether the search was legal.
For simple possession, the penalties can be severe, especially if the individual has a prior offense. Individuals who are convicted of possession of controlled substances could face up to one year in prison or probation, and up to a $5,000 fine. For a second or more offense, individuals face up to three years in prison or probation, and a fine that does not exceed $25,000.
For possession of drug paraphernalia, a person could face up to one year in jail and a fine up to $2,500. Possession for a small amount of marijuana or possession of marijuana of 30 grams or less is a misdemeanor offense with penalties of up to 30 days in jail and a fine of no more than $5,000. For more than 30 grams, the penalties increase to a maximum of one year in jail and $5,000 in fines.
Being convicted of drug possession can have a serious impact. It could lead to a criminal record. Individuals could have their license suspended, which could make them unable to drive for a period of time. A conviction could affect security clearances if someone has a job requiring a clearance, and it could affect an individual’s licensing renewal for doctors, nurses, and other professions. Additionally, a drug conviction could affect someone’s immigration status if they are not a full United States citizen.
To deal with the collateral consequences, one should consult with a Montgomery County drug possession attorney as soon as they are charged.
In Montgomery County, depending on the circumstances, first-time offenders could be admitted into a drug treatment program or into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. In drug treatment court, a person can choose to go through a tiered treatment with different progressions and phases. After they complete five phases, that would be a full completion of the program and their charges will be dismissed. They will not have the case on their criminal record as a conviction after successfully completing the drug treatment program.
The ARD program presents different options and is only eligible to people with no prior convictions and who have not already taken advantage of the program. It is best to speak to a knowledgeable attorney to determine what may be possible for an individual’s specific circumstances.
Drug possession is a serious crime in Pennsylvania. Based on aggressive enforcement practices, a person who was not knowingly possessing an illegal substance can be arrested and charged. Individuals could face jail time, probation, and serious fines if convicted.
You do not have to fight the charges alone. Let a Montgomery County drug possession lawyer help you build a defense. Call today to get started on your case.