A charge of drug possession in Pennsylvania can come with serious consequences. Even first-time defendants can do jail time. A conviction also means a loss of driving privileges, restrictions on your ability to take out student loans, and a permanent criminal record that can interfere with the rest of your life.
If you are facing possession charges in the Pennsylvania area, call Brian Manchester, an experienced possession defense attorney in Pennsylvania. Call today. It is important to start working on your defense right away.
Possession: Controlled Substances in Pennsylvania
It is a crime in Pennsylvania to knowingly or intentionally possess a controlled substance without a prescription or license. Controlled substances are divided into five schedules, graded by the dangerousness of the drugs, their propensity for abuse and their medical uses. Many of these drugs are labeled narcotics and banned outright. This includes some of the drugs that show up frequently in possession cases: heroin, marijuana, GHB (the date rape drug), ecstasy and LSD. Others are legal under only extremely limited circumstances: cocaine, methamphetamine and PCP, for example. Still others are legal but tightly regulated, such as Vicodin and barbiturates. Illegally possessing a controlled substance is generally a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and a $5,000 fine on a first offense or three years and $25,000 on a subsequent offense.
Possession: Different Penalties in Pennsylvania
Penalties are not the same in every case, however. Simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana or eight grams or less of hashish for personal use is a lesser misdemeanor and carries only 30 days in jail and a $500 fine at most. In most cases there is no mandatory minimum punishment for marijuana or hashish possession, so these cases can almost always be settled with probation and a fine. GHB, on the other hand, comes with the stiffest penalties of any drug: a maximum of 15 years plus a fine of $250,000 or more. Possession of GHB, as well as possession of cocaine, heroin and other controlled substances, comes with minimum jail terms only after multiple repeat offenses. Still, jail time is possible even on a first offense. In addition to state penalties, possession carries federal penalties, including a maximum of one year in jail for a first offense, between 15 days and two years for a second offense, and between 90 days and three years for subsequent offenses.
Possession: How Much Is Too Much in Pennsylvania
In addition to simple possession, defendants can be charged with carrying more than 30 doses of a prescription medication or more than three packets of anabolic steroids, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail on a first offense. Another crime closely related to simple possession: If a defendant is caught with a sufficient amount of a controlled substance, he can be charged with possession with intent to distribute, a felony that carries as many as 15 years in prison and comes with mandatory incarceration. Under Pennsylvania law, the amount of the drug can be used to infer intent to distribute, and there are bright-line cutoff points. The line between simple possession and intent in Pennsylvania is more than one pound of marijuana, more than one gram of heroin, more than two grams of cocaine, more than five grams of methamphetamine, amphetamines and PCP, and more than one pill of ecstasy. Strict federal anti-drug laws also apply, with mandatory sentences of as long as life for large trafficking operations that result in death.
If you or a loved one are in the Pennsylvania area and have been charged with possession, call Brian Manchester, an experienced possession defense lawyer in Pennsylvania. He can help you build the defense you need today.