Heroin-related criminal charges can create major problems in anyone’s life. They can lead to incarceration, driver’s license suspensions, student loan restrictions and lifelong criminal records. Pennsylvania imposes severe penalties for many heroin offenses, including mandatory minimum sentences in some cases.
If you are facing heroin charges in the Pennsylvania area, call Brian Manchester, an experienced heroin defense attorney in Pennsylvania. Call today. It is important to start working on your defense right away.
Simple Possession of Heroin in Pennsylvania
Heroin is treated as a Schedule I controlled substance in Pennsylvania. This means it is considered a highly dangerous drug with no acknowledged medical uses and a high potential for abuse. It is also a narcotic, which means it is banned under all circumstances. Simple possession is the most basic heroin-related crime. It is a misdemeanor to intentionally or knowingly possess a small amount of heroin for personal use. In Pennsylvania, this is anything less than one gram. The maximum penalty for simple possession is one year in jail for a first offense or three years for subsequent offenses. Multiple repeat offenders are subject to mandatory incarceration, but others may be able to arrange probation instead of jail. Simple possession of heroin is also a federal crime punishable by a maximum of one year in jail for a first offense.
Buying Heroin in Pennsylvania
It is also a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania to intentionally or knowingly buy heroin from anyone under any circumstances. The maximum penalty for this crime is three years in prison. Only multiple repeat offenders are subject to mandatory sentences. Defendants who buy small amounts of heroin are generally more likely to face simple possession than illegal purchase charges, but buying the drug does raise the possibility of prosecution under this statute.
Heroin Trafficking in Pennsylvania
It is a much more serious crime in Pennsylvania to make heroin, distribute it or possess it with intent to distribute it. This is a felony punishable by as many as 15 years in prison. Mandatory sentences apply, so jail time is almost guaranteed if you are convicted of making heroin, distributing it or possessing it with intent, unless prosecutors are willing to plea bargain in exchange for information about more substantial players in the drug business. The greater the amount of the drug and the longer the defendant’s record, the greater the mandatory sentence. For those convicted of making, distributing or possessing between one and five grams of heroin, a mandatory sentence of two years applies on a first offense; on a subsequent offense, the punishment is three years. Between five and 50 grams brings a three year sentence for a first offense and five years for subsequent offenses. More than 50 grams carries a sentence of five years for a first offense and seven years for subsequent offenses. Heroin trafficking also carries separate penalties under federal law, including a mandatory 20-years-to-life sentence if drugs from a large trafficking operation drugs kill someone.
Heroin Paraphernalia in Pennsylvania
Heroin paraphernalia is also illegal here, whether or not it contains drug residue. The use or possession of paraphernalia for the purpose of making, packaging, concealing or delivering heroin is a misdemeanor. Distributing paraphernalia, or making or possessing it with intent to distribute it is also a misdemeanor. Spoons, lighters, plastic bags — almost anything connected with heroin can qualify as paraphernalia. These offenses are punishable by a maximum of one year unless the paraphernalia is distributed to a person younger than 18 and the person distributing it is at least three years older, in which case the maximum sentence is two years.
If you or a loved one are in the Pennsylvania area and have been charged with a heroin crime, call Brian Manchester, an experienced heroin defense lawyer in Pennsylvania. He can help you build the defense you need today.