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Pennsylvania Drug Crimes Lawyer
Pennsylvania drug lawyers protect those charged with offenses that range from simple possession (small amounts of some drugs being misdemeanors), to possession with intent to distribute – or drug trafficking. They are serious crimes and consequences can be severe including long jail sentences, hefty fines, forfeiture of personal property and a criminal record.
Pennsylvania Drug Lawyers Can Help
Misdemeanor possession could be as minor as a couple of “joints” or a few “tabs” of an unauthorized prescription drug that carries the penalty of probation and a relatively small fine. On the other hand, felony possession with intent (drug trafficking) is punishable by a lengthy prison sentence and larger fines than simple possession.
You don’t have to actually sell drugs to be charged with intent to distribute. Sharing your “stash” with friends for recreational use is considered distribution. And the quantity of drugs you possess could suggest intent to distribute or at least put the burden of proof that you are innocent on your Pennsylvania drug lawyer.
Misdemeanor drug cases involve many drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, pills, etc. and if only small amounts are involved are classified as simple possession of a controlled substance. Most paraphernalia possession charges – pipes, bowls, rolling papers, syringes, etc. are also charged as misdemeanors. Pennsylvania felony drug charges usually come in the form of Delivery of a Controlled Substance, Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance, and Acquisition of a Controlled Substance by Fraud – or their equivalents if they become federal charges.
How Drugs are Categorized
Both Pennsylvania and Federal law divide different controlled substances into “schedules.” They are based on their potential for abuse and the therapeutic value of the substance. The greater the abuse potential and the less medical value they carry the higher the schedule rating and the more severe the penalty to the defendant if felony drug charges are filed.
The drugs listed below are a few examples of each category and generally fall in the same Pennsylvania state or federal schedules. If your drug is not listed, a qualified Pennsylvania drug lawyer can assist you.
- Schedule I: Heroin, marijuana, LSD, MDMA (ecstasy). These drugs are rated to have no accepted medical use with a high potential for addiction andabuse.
- Schedule II: Cocaine, methamphetamines (crystal meth), oxycodone. There are some – though limited – medical uses with severe restrictions on their use, and a high abuse potential.
- Schedule III: Anabolic steroids, some barbiturates, ketamine, Vicodin. These narcotics have a nominal abuse potential and higher therapeutic value.
- Schedule IV: Xanax, valium, Klonopin, Soma. The abuse potential for these controlled substances is lower, though all have high therapeutic values.
- Schedule V: Cough suppressants that contain certain amounts of codeine, other prescription drugs. These have minimal abuse potential and high medical acceptability.
Drug Charges and the Penalties that Await a Guilty Verdict
Pennsylvania drug law violations and penalties are pretty straightforward. There are two basic misdemeanors and three felonies. Misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance – or of drug paraphernalia – carries up to one year in jail or prison and/or a fine up to $5,000
All felonies listed below have sliding scale penalties that depend on the drug schedule category the controlled substance falls under. Generally, prison terms can be as long as 15 years and fines of up to $250,000 per-count.
- Felony Possession with Intent (Drug Trafficking)– the purchase and sale of controlled substances, or the delivery or importation into Pennsylvania of illegal drugs
- Felony Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID) – knowledge of – or intentional transfer of – a controlled substance from one person to another
- Unlawful Manufacturing– production, preparation, growing, compounding, converting, processing, packaging or repackaging of a controlled substance
If you are convicted of the above felonies, your drivers’ license is suspended. It lasts six months upon first conviction, a year for a second, and two years for a third – and any subsequent – conviction.
Drug Charges and the Assistance of a Seasoned PA Drug Attorney
If you are charged with federal drug crimes, they are heard in federal court. Fines and prison time can be as high as $500,000 per-count and penalties can be as much as life in prison without parole. Often, state drug charges – if they reach beyond Pennsylvania’s borders – may be federalized if the U.S. District Attorney chooses to prosecute the case.
If you or a family member faces federal or state drug charges, please consult an experienced Pennsylvania drug lawyer for more information.