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Drug Crimes

DRUG CHARGES IN PENNSYLVANIA

Federal and State Drug Charges

Federal Charges

Drug charges are some of the most common criminal offenses in Pennsylvania. Both State and Federal prosecutors can charge you with drug offenses. Drug cases arising in Federal Court usually develop after a lengthy and secret Grand Jury Investigation which results in numerous arrests of a network. Mostly, these cases develop when participants become witnesses for leniency. If your drug case has originated in Federal Court, the stakes are often higher the jail time is significant even for minor players, and the Rules are completely different from State Court charges.  Both Attorney Shaw and Parks Miller have experience in Grand Jury proceedings and defending these types of cases. Our experienced criminal lawyers have the knowledge and skills necessary to aggressively defend against both state and federal charges. Our Attorney – Stacy Parks Miller – has been appointed as a Federal Public Defender by the federal courts on certain cases and has defended clients accused of being participants to serious drug organizations.  In one case, Attorney Parks Miller secured a sentence much lower than the guideline sentence called for by presenting evidence at a mitigation hearing relating to duress and violence experienced by the client. Instead of a lengthy prison term, the client was released only on supervised probation.

State Charges

Even though drug arrests are common they carry heavy criminal penalties, even for simple possession. Drug crimes can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the type of drug, amount, and the defendant’s criminal record. Many drug crimes carry prison sentences. Before pleading guilty to a drug charge, make sure you understand your rights. There are serious collateral consequences which should be fully understood by the defendant before accepting a plea or conviction for this offense.  Despite being extremely common, state and federal prosecutors take drug charges extremely seriously. Even having a small amount of an illegal substance in your possession can lead to serious consequences including loss of license and other consequences such as disqualification from eligibility for Section 8 housing. 

Drug Possession

Drug possession charges involve possession of a controlled substance, including street drugs or prescription drugs without a valid prescription, intended for personal use. Simple drug possession is a misdemeanor crime and a conviction could result in up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. A conviction for drug possession could also mean a loss of your driver’s license for 6 months.

A second or subsequent conviction for drug possession may result in additional penalties, including a long prison sentence, higher fines, and loss of your driver’s license.

Marijuana Possession

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has joined the majority of other states and has legalized Medical Marijuana. Recreational possession and use is still a crime and marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug under federal law. This creates complex legal issues in regard to gun ownership and driving after using Medical Marijuana. The Shaw Law Group currently is challenging a number of DUI Marijuana cases where the client had a Medical Marijuana card, could legally use Marijuana and was charged with DUI  even though the THC metabolite in the client’s blood was from earlier legal use.

Possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor, which carries the possible penalties of 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Possession of more than 30 grams of marijuana can result in up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. However, in most cases, simple possession will not result in jail time for a first-time offender. For Simple Possession charges, you may be able to enter into an accelerated rehabilitative disposition or ARD program which will effectively dismiss all charges once you successfully complete the program and pay all costs and fines. ARD is at the Court’s discretion. The District Attorney must agree to your placement in the program. Judges are most willing to allow it when: 1) You have had no priors 2) You have not entered an ARD in the past.

Possession with Intent to Deliver

Possession of drugs over a certain quantity may be charged as possession with intent to deliver (PWID). In Pennsylvania, Possession with the Intent to Deliver of a controlled substance, or PWID, is a Felony regardless of the type of substance sold.  If you really had the drugs for personal use, a prosecutor may charge you with intent to deliver or distribute if the quantity is large enough. Other signs of intent to deliver include carrying multiple packages of drugs, packaging material, scales, or large amounts of cash. It is not always necessary for the police to physically witness a drug sale in order to charge Felony Possession with the Intent to Deliver. Even when the prosecution cannot prove that the controlled substances were ever actually sold, the District Attorney may use an expert witness in an attempt to prove that the quantity of the narcotics or their packaging shows that they could not have been for personal use.

Often PWID cases are built upon controlled buys where an undercover police officer or a confidential informant attempt to make multiple buys from a person to defeat an entrapment defense. These events are documented by police. As former prosecutors, both Attorney Shaw and Parks Miller were in charge of their drug task force when they served. They know firsthand that these “buys” are fraught with issues including serious credibility problems with confidential informants who are often making the buys to get out of their own arrests. While these cases look intimidating on paper, behind the scenes can be a different story, especially if they arose from a Grand Jury. Both Attorney Shaw and Attorney Parks Miller have extensive experience with Grand Juries. While every case is different, Attorney Shaw and Parks Miller both know how to uncover the weak points in these cases and make them work in your favor. 

Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID) is a Felony in Pennsylvania. The penalties for PWID depend on the amount of the drugs, the type of substance, and the defendant’s criminal record.

Criminal Use of a Communications Facility

If a cell phone was involved in an illegal transaction, you could be charged with Criminal Use of a Communications Facility. As a felony of the third degree, there are often more serious consequences than the actual sale of a controlled substance, such as a maximum of seven years in prison. 

Penalty by Type of Drug – Marijuana

Possession with intent to deliver marijuana of 30 grams or more could result in a year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. The penalties increase as the amount of marijuana increases. Possession of 50 pounds of marijuana or more carries a minimum penalty of 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

Cocaine

Possession with intent to deliver less than 2 grams of cocaine could result in a year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Possession of 2 grams to 10 grams of cocaine carries a minimum penalty of 2 years in prison. Possession of 10 grams to 100 grams of cocaine carries a minimum penalty of 3 years in prison. Possession of more than 100 grams of cocaine carries a minimum penalty of 4 years in prison.

Methamphetamine

Possession with intent to deliver 5 grams to less than 10 grams of methamphetamines has a minimum sentence of 3 years in prison. Possession of 10 grams to less than 100 grams of meth carries a minimum penalty of 4 years in prison. Possession of more than 100 grams of methamphetamines carries a minimum jail sentence of 5 years.

Heroin

Possession with intent to deliver 1 gram to 5 grams of heroin has a minimum sentence of 2 years in prison. Possession of more than 5 grams to less than 50 grams of meth carries a minimum penalty of 3 years in prison. Possession of more than 50 grams of heroin carries a minimum jail sentence of 5 years.

Drug Paraphernalia

The possession or sale of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor offense in Pennsylvania. The penalties for a conviction of possession of drug paraphernalia could result in up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. Paraphernalia could include a glass pipe, bong, injecting kit, roach clips, or even spoons,

Contact Us

A conviction for drug crimes can carry serious penalties that may affect your future even after serving your sentence. Before you plead guilty to a drug charge make sure you understand your options and your rights. We are devoted to representing the people of Central Pennsylvania and surrounding areas. Contact us today for a consultation.

If you are facing Drug charges, dial us as soon as possible. Call 814-762-0004 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Our lawyers provide a strong defense in all types of drug cases.

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We are known for our straightforward, aggressive approach to defending clients against violent crimes charges and for our ability to effectively challenge the prosecution at every stage of a case. We draw on our expert resources and our legal knowledge to investigate and build the strongest strategic case that we can on your behalf. Our team of experienced attorneys knows the best defenses for each unique case, and we know how to challenge each part of the Commonwealth’s case at the preliminary hearing; through pre-trial motions, and at trial with a judge or a jury. We also have extensive experience in skillfully negotiating for better outcomes for our clients, and we have obtained the best results even in cases in which the Commonwealth has a great deal of evidence. Most importantly, our defense attorneys have a proven track record. If you or a loved one are under investigation or facing drug charges, you need the best defense attorneys in your corner. Call us for a free strategy session with one of our lawyers today. 

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