With changing drug laws currently moving through several states across the country, you might be wondering whether you should be overly concerned if you are arrested or charged with drug possession in Pennsylvania. It is important to note, then, that you can still face prison time for the possession of certain drugs. The possession of certain substances in Pennsylvania is punishable by law, in other words, and it’s not a charge to take lightly. If you are charged with drug possession and are convicted, you stand to face many different charges that vary in terms of severity and length. An attorney experienced with drug law in Pennsylvania can help ensure that you receive the best defense possible and improve the likelihood of receiving a good legal outcome according to your situation.
What influences drug possession punishment in Pennsylvania?
There are a few different factors that are taken into consideration when determining how serious the punishment for a particular drug offense will be. This includes:
- The type of substance involved.
- The amount of the substance in your possession.
- Any past convictions the accused might have.
- The intent behind the possession (intent to deliver vs. simple possession).
Many of the above are fairly straight forward, but it’s a good idea to run through them to ensure you understand the legal issues you might be facing.
First of all, which substance was in your possession? The answer to this question will likely determine whether you’re facing a felony or a misdemeanor charge right off the bat. Possession of marijuana, hashish, and THC, for example, are considered misdemeanor crimes. If you possessed 30 grams or less of marijuana, you’re looking at a fine of up to $500 and potentially 30 days in jail. If you possessed more than 30 grams, your potential maximum penalty is a year of jail time and a $5,000 fine. If you are facing drug charges for the first time, you might be eligible for something called a conditional release, which means you could receive probation instead of jail time. If you have previous convictions, however, the penalties might be doubled. The penalties for the possession of hashish and THC are quite similar to those for possession of marijuana, however the number of grams you can possess is different. If you possessed eight grams or less of either substance, you could be charged with the lesser penalties described above. If you possessed more than eight grams, then you could be subject to the harsher penalties.
Drugs other than those mentioned above can result in felony drug possession charges in Pennsylvania. That includes substances like meth, cocaine, isomers, and PCP. If you possessed more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana, you might also face felony charges. This can include fines that could run as high as $250,000 and jail time of up to 25 years. If you were making a profit from the drugs in question and made over $250,000, then your fines can be increased to include the total amount of profit you made.
Drug possession charges might also come with paraphernalia charges. These can be surprisingly harsh, with the maximum fine reaching $2,500 and the maximum jail time reaching one year. Paraphernalia charges could effectively double your punishment, in other words, depending upon the substance (and its amount) that was in your possession when you were arrested.
Finally, keep in mind that intent matters in these cases. If the drug was for personal use, you might be charged with simple possession. The consequences for this conviction are still steep, but they are typically much less so than being charged for the intention to distribute the drug in question. If you were arrested and charged with the intent to distribute – something that can often be determined from the amount of the drug found as well as your past history – you should contact an attorney as quickly as possible.
Drug Possession Defenses
There are a few different defenses to the crime of drug possession in Pennsylvania. If you didn’t realize you were in possession of the drug, for example, or didn’t understand what was in your possession, then you might be able to have charges dropped. The same holds true if the quantity of drug was small enough to not be covered by the drug laws in place. An experienced attorney can argue that you weren’t aware the drug was ever in your possession given how small the amount in question was. The actions of law enforcement officers are something else that should be carefully examined in order to ensure that their actions were legal and the evidence they found lawfully obtained.
If you are facing drug charges in Pennsylvania, you need an experienced attorney who understands criminal law. Attorney James H. Bonner, Esquire, can help. Contact him today for more information and start building your defense!
1210 N. Middletown Road, Glen Mills, PA 19342
8 West Front, Media, PA 19063