Criminal Defense Attorney

Philadelphia Drug Lawyer

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania imposes tough penalties on anyone convicted of a drug-related offense. Drug crime charges can vary and depend on many factors, including the amount or type of drugs a person has in their possession. Another factor is whether a person has a prior criminal record. An experienced Philadelphia drug lawyer will be able to help you regardless of the type of drug charge you are facing.

Philadelphia Drug Lawyer Cases

What Does Possession of a Controlled Substance Mean?

Drug possession cases are taken very seriously in Philadelphia. Under the Pennsylvania Statute 35 P.S. 780-113(a)(16), it is illegal to knowingly or intentionally possess counterfeit or controlled substances. This means the individual intentionally possessed the drug without a medical prescription. The person knew that possessing the drug was illegal. Also, the person either had constructive or actual possession of the drug.

Delivering, Manufacturing or Possessing a Controlled Substance with the Intent to Distribute

In the Commonwealth, it is illegal to possess, manufacture or deliver controlled substances with the intent to distribute under Sections 780-113 (a)-(30). Possession with intent to distribute in Philadelphia is a serious charge that carries severe penalties. This does not include allegations of drug trafficking.

Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana

Possession of even a small amount of marijuana in Philadelphia is illegal, but the charge is different from possession of other controlled substances charge. It defines a “small amount” of marijuana as 30 grams or less, or eight grams or less of hashish. However, the law includes a non-specific amount regarding:

  • Personal use
  • Distribution, not for sale

Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Misrepresentation or Fraud

It is unlawful to obtain any type of controlled substance using deception, forgery, fraud, or some type of misrepresentation. The crime is outlined in 35 P.S. 780-113 (12). An example of this crime is using a fake prescription to get medical marijuana.

Criminal Use of a Communication Facility

Section 7512 of the criminal code is related to drug crime offenses. The statute defines a third-degree felony as using any type of communication facility to facilitate, commit, or cause the commission of a crime involving drugs. Communication facilities refer to a private or public instrument used to transmit sound, data, signs, signals or writing, or using their cell phone to buy drugs.

When a person has been accused of any of these drug crimes and/or drug trafficking, they should contact a Philadelphia drug attorney immediately. A person could face the potential for serious prison time in some cases and a mark on their record that can make gainful employment and housing nearly impossible.

Drug Paraphernalia

The Commonwealth’s law 35 P.S. 780-113 (a)(32) explains possession of drug paraphernalia as a crime with the intent to use or the actual use of certain items for the purpose of:

  • Planting
  • Cultivating
  • Propagating
  • Harvesting
  • Compounding
  • Manufacturing
  • Converting
  • Ingesting
  • Inhaling
  • Packing
  • Storing
  • Concealing
  • Analyzing
  • Injecting
  • Testing
  • Otherwise introducing the drug into the body

What the Penalties of a Drug Crime Conviction in Philadelphia?

The following penalties could apply if a person is convicted of one of the drug crimes listed in the previous section:

Possession of a controlled substance conviction can result in up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine for an initial offense. Any subsequent offense is still considered a misdemeanor offense that could force a person to face up to three years in jail and have to pay a $25,000 fine. A conviction for obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation or fraud can result in the same penalties.

Possessing, manufacturing, or delivering with the intent to deliver a controlled substance carries certain mandatory minimums that are determined by the type of drug:


  • One year for 2 to 10 grams.
  • Three years for 10 to 100 grams.
  • Five years for more than 100 grams.


  • Two years for 1 to 5 grams.
  • Three years for 5 to 50 grams.
  • Five years for more than 50 grams.


  • One year for 2 to 10 pounds.
  • Three years for 10 to 50 pounds.
  • Five years for more than 50 pounds.

Conviction of this crime in a school zone can result in an additional two years added to a sentence. If a person is found in possession of or near a firearm, that sentence will increase to five years.

  • Possession of a small amount of marijuana – less than 30 grams – can result in up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
  • A drug paraphernalia conviction can result in one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.
  • Criminal use of a communication facility is a third-degree felony that can bring seven years in jail and up to $15,000 in fines.

Possible Defenses to Philadelphia Drug Charges

Each defense is unique and should be tailored to the circumstances and facts of the case. What works for one person may not be the best option for another person. For example, if a person knows that a conviction is inevitable, it may make sense to negotiate a plea agreement for reduced penalties. However, if a person’s legal residency in the US is in question, that plea agreement could result in an immediate deportation from the country.

If a person was in possession of a moderate amount of marijuana but had no intention of selling the drug, yet they are charged with intent to distribute. It is imperative for the person to contact a Philadelphia drug attorney to discuss potential legal options. Most strategies involve attacking the charges based upon the law. For instance, if a person is facing a drug possession charge, the lawyer will challenge evidence that the person was in physical possession of the drug, or that the person was the only one who had access to the drug, as is the case of marijuana growing cooperatives.

A skilled trial attorney can look for signs of a weak case on the part of prosecutors and police. In such a case, a Pennsylvania drug lawyer may show that there is not enough evidence to proceed with a trial. A person’s lawyer will also investigate to see whether any mistakes were made during an arrest, the search and seizure of a person’s property and the analysis of any drugs that were seized.

To understand more about a possible defense strategy, a person should contact a Philadelphia drug lawyer today.

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