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DAVID CLARK
Criminal Defense Attorney

Drug Possession Charges in Philadelphia

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, drug possession is treated in a specific way depending upon the drug involved. If the drug is marijuana, the Philadelphia courts tend to treat the matter in a much lighter fashion. For repeat offenders, however, even marijuana can be a problem. Nonetheless, all other controlled substances are treated in a very serious way because it is often the court’s opinion that the use of illegal narcotics leads to other crimes that affect the civility and the manner in which citizens of Philadelphia can live their daily lives. As a result, if you are charged it is in your best interest to consult with a Philadelphia drug possession lawyer as soon as possible to begin building your defense.

The common consensus is that possession and use of controlled substances often lead to other more serious crimes such as theft, theft for motor vehicles, fights and other crimes of that nature. These are the type of crimes that the courts specifically focus on in trying to prevent from occurring within the city limits. It’s very important for the city to remain civil at all times and as a first step in trying to prevent this, it is often the drug offenses like illegal possession and use that the courts focus on trying to eliminate.

Now the more serious drug offenses involving possession consist of the illegal use of cocaine, crack cocaine, PCP and heroin. The offenses involving these drugs are focused on more specific way because they often lead the crimes such as theft as we already mentioned, DUI and other crimes against the civility of the city. These are the crimes that the courts themselves work very hard to keep under control.

Drug Enforcement in Philadelphia

While drug possession and use of marijuana may not seem to be the one of the most serious of crimes in Philadelphia for other controlled substances such as crack cocaine, cocaine, PCP, or heroin or it’s the city’s prerogative to put officers on the street to crack down on these sorts of illegal substances. It’s these sorts of illegal substances that lead to other more serious crimes when individuals are under the influence of these controlled substances. In order to control driving under the influence in Philadelphia, theft crimes in Philadelphia, other crimes involving aggravated assault and crimes of that nature, it is the court’s position that if they control the use of illegal narcotics in the city then overall the city will be a better and safe place to live in.

Diversion Programs and Alternative Sentencing in Philadelphia

In Philadelphia, there are many diversionary programs that involve the illegal use of drugs for first time offenders and in some cases certain diversionary programs exist for even second and third time offenders.

For first time offenders, there’s the ARD or Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program, which upon completion can help an individual clear or expunge their record of ever being arrested in the first place.

AMP Programs for Philadelphia Drug Possession Cases

Additionally, Philadelphia has programs such the AMP 1 and the AMP 2 programs to deal specifically with drug possessing cases within the city limits and other nuisance crimes.

Under the AMP 1 program, should a person complete a period of community service and comply with the other requirements of the program, that person’s case can later be withdrawn or dismissed and the person will be eligible for an expungement.

Under the AMP 2 program, which involves non-incarceration offenses for individuals with more of a record, more extreme treatment is available. This is beneficial for second, third or fourth time offender others facing a jail sentence. The AMP 2 program will help them to get treatment and counseling. It will also help them to avoid incarceration. However, it will appear on their record and will show up as a conviction. An experienced Philadelphia narcotics defense attorney can advise them of all options available and help them choose the right manner in which to successfully deal with the criminal act.

Constitutional Issues in Philadelphia Drug Possession Cases

In Philadelphia, possession cases often run into a variety of constitutional issues. The city at one point had a stop and frisk program which was later determined to be unconstitutional per se. Additionally, constitutional issues come into play when certain individuals stand out in certain communities. Often racial profiling is involved. Often out of state plates, certain types of vehicle, and certain types of people are looked at in a very specific way by the police and in a lot of circumstances a very unfair manner. Not every street transaction involves narcotics.

There are legitimate commercial transactions, thousands of them every single day in the city of Philadelphia and those transactions need to be protected. Constitutional issues arise when an officer lacks reasonable suspicion and/or probable cause to stop an individual, search their person, locate what they feel is a controlled substance and then take that person into custody. Once those steps are applied to a particular person’s case the federal and state constitutions are there to protect your rights. Under Article 1, Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution as well as the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution an illegal stop of a person can be suppressed resulting in a dismissal of all charges.