Drug Crimes in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are listed in Title 35 for Health and Safety, Chapter 6 The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act, under Statute 780 sections 101-144.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a multitude of drug and drug related crimes. Each situation is unique to their set of facts. It is important that you hire an experienced team to join you in the fight against the Government. The team at Manchester and Associates has decades of experience and training in fighting, and winning, drug crimes cases. Should you find yourself in a situation where you need legal representation you need to contact criminal defense attorneys who know the law inside and out.
A wealth of information about drug offenses is available in the sections below. To discuss your specific situation, contact our team for a free consultation at our toll free number (800)-243-4878 or through the contact button below.
Drug Crimes General Information
- Drug Delivery Resulting in Death
- Possession with Intent to Deliver
- Drug Paraphernalia
- Clandestine Drug Laboratory
- Operating a Methamphetamine Laboratory
- Criminal Use of a Communication Device
- Corrupt Organizations
- Ecstasy (MDMA)
- K2 Spice
- Bath Salts (Cathinone)
- Prescription Painkillers (Vicodin, Oxycodone/OxyContin, Morphine, etc.)
- Prescription Pills (Adderall, Ritalin, Methadone, Zanex, etc.)
- Synthetic Drugs
- Synthetic Marijuana
- Designer Drugs
There are two levels of tests used by the Commonwealth to determine what whether a substance is a controlled substance. The second level is a confirmatory test. This is done by a laboratory where a forensic analysis of the substance is performed.
The first level is a presumptive test which is usually done by the police right at the scene. This is often called a field test or NIK test. This test is where a sample of the suspected illegal substance is placed into a chemical mixture to see if there is a chemical reaction. In most tests, this reaction is observed by the testing chemicals changing color. If the reaction changes to the correct color, then the substance is presumed to be the controlled substance which the test is designed to identify. The test for each different substance has its own premade chemical mixture, thus the police must select the correct test for the suspected substance.
The second kind of test is a confirmatory test. This is a much more precise test where the suspected substance is sent for forensic analysis to be positively identified. Forensic analysis is a multi-step process where the substance is broken down into its basic compounds and then those are results are compared against known compounds to determine if they match. In Pennsylvania, almost all labs use a gas chromatography with mass spectrometer testing method. Gas chromatography is used to separate the suspected substance into its basic components. The suspected substance is dissolved into a liquid which is then manipulated to create a gaseous layer above the liquid, called a gas headspace. That gas is then injected into a specialized machine part called a column. This column is around 30 meters long and is inside a superheated oven. The components of the suspected substance separate as it travels through the column. At the end of the column is a mass spectrometry device that further separates the components as they exit the column. This chemical breakup can be then analyzed against the known chemical breakup of various controlled substances to determine what the suspected substance is.
Drugs, substances, and other chemicals are classified by the Federal Government into five different categories called schedules. What schedule a drug falls under is based on an evaluation of the drugs acceptable medical use, potential for abuse or dependency, abuse rate, and potential for severe psychological and/or physical dependence.
drugs are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are:
heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy)(MDMA), methaqualone, psilocybin (mushrooms); and peyote.
drugs are defined as drugs with a currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are:
cocaine, Vicodin, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), phencyclidine (PCP), Fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin.
drugs are defined as drugs with a currently accepted medical use and a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Some examples of Schedule III drugs are:
Tylenol with codeine – depending on the amount of codeine, ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone, and barbiturates.
drugs are defined as drugs with a currently accepted medical use and a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Some examples of Schedule IV drugs are:
Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien, and Tramadol
drugs are defined as drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes. Some examples of Schedule V drugs are:
Robitussin AC, Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, Parepectolin, and Tylenol with Codeine – depending on the amount of codeine.
There are many terms used when discussing drug testing that have very specific meanings. Knowing what these terms mean is necessary to understand the results of any testing done of suspected controlled substances. Some of these terms and their meanings are listed below.
Accuracy - Closeness of agreement between a test result or measurement result and the true value.
Analyst - A designated person who examines and analyzes seized drugs or related materials, or directs such examinations to be done; independently has access to unsealed evidence in order to remove samples from the evidentiary material for examination and as a consequence of such examinations, signs reports for court or other purposes.
Analyte - The component of a system to be analyzed.
Audit - Systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining audit evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which audit criteria are fulfilled.
Bias - The difference between the expectation of the test results and an accepted reference value.
Blank - Specimen or sample not containing the analyte or other interfering substances.
Byproduct - A secondary or incidental product of a manufacturing process.
Calibration - The act of checking or adjusting (by comparison with a standard) the accuracy of a measuring instrument. An operation that, under specified conditions, in a first step, establishes a relation between the quantity values with measurement uncertainties provided by measurement standards and corresponding indications with associated measurement uncertainties and, in a second step, uses this information to establish a relation for obtaining a measurement result from an indication.
Capacity - The amount of finished product that could be produced, either in one batch or over a defined period of time and given a set list of variables.
Catalyst - A substance whose presence initiates or changes the rate of a chemical reaction but does not itself enter into the reaction.
Certified reference material (CRM) - Reference material characterized by a metrologically valid procedure for one or more specified properties, accompanied by a certificate that provides the value of the specified property, its associated uncertainty, and a statement of metrological traceability.
Chain of custody - procedures and documents that account for the integrity of a specimen or sample by tracking its handling and storage from its point of collection to its final disposition.
Clandestine - Secret and concealed, often for illicit reasons.
Control - Material of established origin that is used to evaluate the performance of a test or comparison.
Detection limit - The lowest concentration of an analyte in a sample that can be detected, but not necessarily quantitated under the stated conditions of the test.
False-negative - Test result that states that an analyte is absent, when, in fact, it is present above the established limit of detection for the analyte in question.
False-positive - Test result that states that an analyte is present, when, in fact, it is not present or, is present in an amount less than a threshold or designated cut-off concentration.
Finished product - A manufactured product ready for use.
Intermediate - Substance that is manufactured for and consumed in or used for chemical processing to be transformed into another substance.
Limit of quantitation - The lowest concentration of an analyte that can be determined with acceptable precision (repeatability) and accuracy under the stated conditions of the test.
Linearity - Defines the ability of the method to obtain test results proportional to the concentration of an analyte.
Pharmaceutical identifiers - Physical characteristics of tablets, capsules or packaging indicating the identity, manufacturer, or quantity of substances present.
Population - The totality of items or units of material under consideration.
Precision - Closeness of agreement between independent test/measurement results obtained under stipulated conditions.
Precursor - A chemical that is transformed into another compound, as in the course of a chemical reaction, and therefore precedes that compound in the synthetic pathway.
Procedure - Specified way to carry out an activity or process.
Proficiency testing - Ongoing process in which a series of proficiency specimens or samples, the characteristics of which are not known to the participants, are sent to laboratories on a regular basis. Each laboratory is tested for its accuracy in identifying the presence (or concentration) of the drug using its usual procedures. An accreditation body may specify participation in a particular proficiency testing scheme as a requirement of accreditation.
Qualitative analysis - Analysis in which substances are identified or classified based on their chemical or physical properties, such as chemical reactivity, solubility, molecular weight, melting point, radiative properties (emission, absorption), mass spectra, nuclear half-life, etc. See also A.2.29 quantitative analysis.
Quantitative analysis - Analyses in which the amount or concentration of an analyte may be determined (estimated) and expressed as a numerical value in appropriate units. Qualitative analysis may take place without quantitative analysis, but quantitative analysis requires the identification (qualification) of the analytes for which numerical estimates are given.
Random sample - The sample so selected that any portion of the population has an equal (or known) chance of being chosen. Haphazard or arbitrary choice of units is generally insufficient to guarantee randomness.
Reagent - A chemical used to react with another chemical, often to confirm or deny the presence of the second chemical.
Repeatability (of results of measurements) - Closeness of the agreement between the results of successive measurements of the same measurand carried out subject to all of the following conditions: the same measurement procedure; the same observer; the same measuring instrument, used under the same conditions; the same location; repetition over a short period of time.
Reproducibility (of results of measurements) - Closeness of the agreement between the results of measurements of the same measurand, where the measurements are carried out under changed conditions such as principle or method of measurement; observer; measuring instrument; location; conditions of use; time.
Sample - Subset of a population made up of one or more sampling units.
Sampling - Act of drawing or constituting a sample.
Sampling plan - A specific plan which states the sample size(s) to be used and the associated criteria for accepting the lot.
Sampling procedure - Operational requirements and/or instructions relating to the use of a particular sampling plan, i.e., the planned method of selection, withdrawal, and preparation of sample(s) from a lot to yield knowledge of the characteristic(s) of the lot.
Sampling scheme - A combination of sampling plans with rules for changing from one plan to another.
Traceability - Ability to trace the history, application or location of that which is under consideration.
Trueness - Closeness of agreement between the expectation of a test result or a measurement result and a true value.
Validation - Confirmation, through the provision of objective evidence, that the requirements for a specific intended use or application have been fulfilled.
Verification - Confirmation, through the provision of objective evidence, that specified requirements have been fulfilled.
There are a lot of steps involved in accurately identifying a substance and determining the official weight of the substance. Each step must be completed to properly identify the suspected substance. Any misstep along the collection and testing process can result in an improper identification or an improper weight. Most suspected drug samples in Pennsylvania are tested in a PA State Police Crime Lab. Testing usually occurs weeks after the suspected drugs are seized by the police. There are several issues that can occur during the testing process including improper storage of the suspected drugs, using an improper internal standard, contamination, improper testing preparation, having a poorly maintained testing machine, poorly maintained database of known drugs, and many more. It is important to determine if the lab followed all of the proper procedures and protocols to make sure the test result is accurate in determining what the substance is and its weight.
Just because you have a Medical Marijuana Card does not mean that you can use Marijuana whenever and wherever you like. Pennsylvania has placed a lot of rules and regulations on the use, transportation, possession, and consumption of medical marijuana.
To qualify for a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania you must 1) be a Pennsylvania resident; 2) have a serious medical condition which is certified by a doctor participating in the medical marijuana program and; 3) the serious medical condition must be on the preapproved list of conditions. The list of currently approved serious medical conditions is as follows:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Anxiety disorders
- Cancer, including remission therapy
- Crohn's disease
- Damage to the nervous tissue of the central nervous system (brain-spinal cord) with an objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, and other associated neuropathies
- Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders
- Huntington's disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Intractable seizures
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Opioid use disorder for which conventional therapeutic interventions are contraindicated or ineffective, or for which adjunctive therapy is indicated in combination with primary therapeutic interventions
- Parkinson's disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain
- Sickle cell anemia
- Terminal illness
- Tourette's Syndrome
If you have one of these conditions you must go to an approved participating practitioner for your condition to be certified. A list of these individuals can be found at the PA Department of Health:
Now that you have your medical Marijuana Card you cannot go buying Marijuana wherever you want. You must go to an approved PA Medical Marijuana Dispensary. A map and list of Dispensaries can also be found at the PA Department of Health:
At the dispensary, you can only purchase Medical Marijuana in certain forms. These forms include the following: oils, topical forms (including gels, creams, patches, or ointments), pills, tinctures and liquids, and forms medically appropriate for administration by vaporization or nebulization, including dry leaf or plant form for administration by vaporization. The dry leaf form of marijuana must be vaporized and can not be smoked. In addition, you cannot turn the medical marijuana that you receive into an edible unless it is for the patient to aid in the ingestion of the medical marijuana. The Dispensaries are limited in how much they can supply to you at any given time. At most, you can receive a 30-day supply and cannot re-up your supply until the last 7 days of your prescription. All purchases are recorded and placed into a statewide database. If you are in possession of more than a 30-day supply, you are in possession of an illegal substance and could be charged with possession of marijuana. In addition, you cannot smoke, grow, process, or dispense marijuana.
In order to legally transport the medical marijuana that you receive from the dispensary, it must be transported in the original packaging used by the dispensary. In addition, it is required to be kept out of reach and in a closed and sealed container. You cannot consume the medical marijuana unless you have arrived home or at a private residence. You cannot drive after you have consumed medical marijuana, as it is illegal to drive, operate, or be in physical control of a motor vehicle with any amount of marijuana in your system even if it is marijuana you received from a dispensary under the medical marijuana program.
In Pennsylvania, the amount and weight of the drugs that you had on you make a big difference. The charges that are filed against you and the severity of those charges can change depending on the amount and weight you have can change. In Pennsylvania, there are two main options for charging you with possessing a controlled substance. You can be charged with simple possession, which is an amount or weight of a drug which indicate that it is for personal use. If the District Attorney or police believe that the amount/weight you have is beyond the amount a person would normally have for personal use, then you will be charged with Possession with the Intent to Deliver (PWID). Possession with Intent to Deliver them means you have drugs that you intend to give or sell to someone else. A first-time simple possession is charged as a misdemeanor whereas a first-time PWID charge is a felony.
If you are charged with PWID the amount/weight continues to play a role here as it determines the severity of the punishment available if you are convicted of the PWID charge. The more drugs you have the higher the offense gravity score is. This score is used, in conjunction with any prior record you have, to determine the bottom end of a sentence (the minimum time to be spent in jail). As little as one gram can be the difference between a county jail sentence and a state prison sentence. This makes it very important that the amount and weight are accurately determined when the substances are sent to a lab to be tested.
Drug Crimes Questions & Answers
Presumptive tests (also known as a field test or NIK test ) are not conducted in a lab, but by the police at the scene.
Confirmatory tests are conducted by a laboratory. For the results of a confirmatory test to be used against a defendant in Pennsylvania the lab which conducts the test must be certified and pass proficiency testing conducted by the state. The Pennsylvania State Police have a total of six Regional Labs that are certified by the state. These are the Bethlehem, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Lima, and Wyoming Region Labs. Some counties have their own certified labs which they use for forensic testing. In addition, there are private labs like NMS Labs in Willow Grove, PA, which are also certified by the state to conduct forensic testing for controlled substances.
If you believe you may have an issue with substance abuse (either controlled substances and/or alcohol) you should get a drug and alcohol evaluation from a licensed treatment provider. If the evaluation determines that you need treatment you can get that to address the problem. This treatment will hopefully help prevent you from ending up in being charged with drug related crimes in the future.
As an additional incentive, the law does allow for some benefits for people who get treatment before they are sentenced. It always makes a good impression with the Judge and Prosecuting Attorney when you voluntarily seek and start or complete treatment without being ordered to do so by the Court. If you successfully complete an in-patient program the Court may but does not have to, give you credit for each day you spent in the in-patient facility as a day toward your jail sentence. Most in-patient treatment programs will provide you with certification that you completed the program which you can then show to the Judge. Whether or not you receive this credit is completely up to the Judge and is determined at sentencing.
The types of programs available to you for your case will depend on your particular circumstances and which county is prosecuting your case. The most widely available programs are Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD), Restrictive Punishment (RP) (formally known as County Intermediate Punishment (CIP or IP)), Treatment Court (DUI Court or Drug Court), and, State Drug Treatment Program (SDTP) (formally known as State Intermediate Punishment (SIP)).
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) is a diversionary program designed for individuals who are first-time offenders. This means people who have never been in trouble with the law before. There can be exceptions to this where an individual could enter into this program more than once, but these are rare. If you are accepted into the ARD Program you will be placed on supervision for a period of time up to two years. During the supervision period, you will have to comply with any conditions the Court deems appropriate. These typically include participation in community service, completing a drug and alcohol assessment and any treatment recommended, and not being able to use non-prescribed drugs or alcohol during the time of the program to name a few. This program offers several benefits. First, because you were placed on the program before any guilty plea, if you successfully complete the ARD Program all of the charges you received ARD for will be dismissed and you will not have a conviction on your criminal record for any of those charges. Second, once you completed the Program you will be eligible to have the charges for which you received the ARD Program expunged from your criminal record.
Restrictive Punishment (RP) or as it was formally known County Intermediate Punishment (CIP or IP) is a County run program. This program allows you to serve a portion or in some cases all, of any jail sentence you receive on In-Home Confinement (also known as House Arrest). Some Counties require that any time spent on In-Home Confinement is longer than the time that you would have spent in a correctional facility if you would have instead opted to go to jail. The benefits of this program are that you do not have to spend as much time in jail, you can maintain your employment, and you can continue with any treatment, either in-patient or out-patient, that was recommended.
Treatment Courts (Drug Court) are a county program designed in most cases for people who are charged with drug offenses and who need treatment and extensive supervision. These programs are usually reserved for those who would be facing substantial jail time and who don’t qualify for other programs such are ARD or Restrict Probation. Treatment Courts are heavily focused on treatment and supervision. Although there is usually some jail time required while participating in this program it is greatly reduced from what a normal sentence would require. Treatment Courts require their participants to attend treatment which can be anything from an In-Patient facility, to daily meetings both individually and group, to NA and AA meetings depending on what the Treatment Court team deems appropriate for you. Participants in Treatment Court appear at the Courthouse, usually bi-weekly, to meet with the Judge and other members of the Treatment Court team who monitor all of the participants' progress. In addition, the participants will meet regularly with their probation officer and other members of the treatment team who closely monitor their progress in the program. In addition to treatment, the program is also able to help participants with finding housing and employment. This program is designed to address the participants' addiction. The benefit of these programs is that it lessens the amount of jail time a participant must serve while addressing any underlying addiction issues to help keep people from re-offending.
State Drug Treatment Program (SDTP), formally known as State Intermediate Punishment (SIP), is a program that is only available for people who have been sentenced to a state prison sentence of at least two years. People who are sentencing to serve incarceration in a state correctional facility will be evaluated by the Department of Corrections (DOC) for this program after they are sentenced. If you accepted into the program you will serve a portion of your sentence in jail. Then a portion of your sentence in an In-patient facility, and a portion of your sentence at a half-way house. This program usually lasts for two years. This program is also designed to address the participants' addictions. The benefit of this program is that it will lessen the amount of time a participant must serve in state prison while addressing any underlying addiction issues to help keep people from re-offending.
A police interdiction is a method that law enforcement uses to intercept suspected drug dealers or people transporting illegal drugs. The most common police interdictions occur usually as traffic stops. Once you are stopped the police are trained to look for ‘drug indicators’, where they are seeing if your actions or what they can observe about your car and its contents matches what they believe to be indicators of drug activity. This can occur when you are pulled over for any traffic violation. Sometimes the police may have pulled you over to conduct what is called a “whisper stop”, where the police were tipped off by other law enforcement agencies that a vehicle matching your vehicle’s description is carrying drugs. Some of the easiest indicators for police to spot are if they smell or see drugs or drug paraphernalia when they approach your vehicle. If this happens then the police can and usually will search your vehicle. The law in Pennsylvania does not require them to get a search warrant before they search your car on the side of the road. If they do not see or smell anything but believe that there are enough other indicators, they will usually call for a drug dog to come to the stop and smell around your vehicle or ask you for permission to search the vehicle. In some cases, they may use the indicators to request a search warrant to search your car. If the police search your vehicle, they will seize any drugs or drug paraphernalia. They can also seize and any cash or other valuable currency, which they will attempt to forfeit later using the drug forfeiture statute. The police regularly conduct these stops on the roadways located around our office, Interstate 80 (I-80), Interstate 99 (I-99), and State Route 322.
Pennsylvania passed the Drug Overdose Response Immunity statute to provide some legal protections to people who report an active overdose. To qualify for the immunity provided by the statute you must report the overdose. You can do this by transporting the victim experiencing the overdose to a law enforcement agency or hospital. Or, you can do this by calling law enforcement or 911 or other emergency services. You must also provide your name and location and remain with the victim of the overdose until law enforcement or other emergency services arrive.
There are situations where you will not receive immunity even if you otherwise follow the requirements of the act. If law enforcement or other emergency services have previously been informed of the situation or have information about the emergency through other independent action, you do not qualify for the immunity. If you do qualify for immunity under the statue, it does not stop law enforcement from charging someone with Possession With Intent to Deliver (PWID) for the delivery of the drugs that caused the overdose, drug-induced homicide, or any other crime not specifically indicated as a crime where immunity is granted. Even if you do qualify for immunity under the statute, any evidence obtained by the police once they arrive is still admissible against you in a prosecution for any offense where the immunity does not apply.
If immunity is granted for the individual who notified law enforcement or emergency services, immunity is also granted to the individual who experienced the overdose. This immunity covers being prosecuted for violating their probation or parole by using drugs and cannot be charged for the following seven controlled substance act charges only:
(13) Dispensing drugs to a drug-dependent person
(16) Possession of a controlled substance
(19) Intentional unauthorized purchase of controlled substances
(31) Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana for personal use, or, for distribution but not for sale
(32) Possession of drug paraphernalia
(33) Possession with intent to deliver drug paraphernalia.
(37) Possession of fewer than 30 doses of anabolic steroids.
The District Attorney’s office will use the same basic evidence in most drug cases. They need to prove that you possessed a substance and that substance was an illegal drug. In some instances, they will also need to prove that you gave the drugs to another person. To do this they will present evidence from police and sometimes from a confidential informant (sometimes referred to as a CI). These people will be used to place you and the suspected substance together. Then the Commonwealth will present evidence that the suspected substance is an illegal substance by using the police and lab test results. This may include bringing the lab employees into Court to testify about the testing and the results for this particular case. Any confidential informants (CIs) need to be properly cross-examined on the stand to show any bias they might have or to show any deals that they could be receiving for providing their testimony. It is also important to be able to properly cross-examine the lab analyst to make sure that the testing was conducted properly and to show any issues that may have occurred during the collection, storage, or testing.
Criminal Conspiracy is a separate criminal offense that is charged when the government alleges that you agreed with at least one other person that you or a group of people would commit a crime. In order to be convicted of a conspiracy offense at least one member of the group must take a substantial step towards actually committing the planned crime. You can still be found guilty of the conspiracy even if you did not do anything but agree to the crime, as long as someone in the group did something to further the actual commission of the crime.
There can only be one conspiracy charge per person for the entire group. You should not be charged with multiple conspiracy charges for the same underlying criminal charge. In other words, it does not matter how many conspirators there are it is the same conspiracy agreement, thus there should only be one conspiracy charge. Conspiracy is a common charge when dealing with drug crimes as there are usually multiple people involved in the organizing, producing, and selling of drugs.
The gravity of this offense depends on the underlying crime that the conspiracy is about. The way the offense is charged in a complaint is Conspiracy to commit (the underlying charge). Whatever the underlying charge is, is determines the gravity of the offense. This means that if the underlying charge is to commit a purchase of a small amount of marijuana the Conspiracy will be charged at the same level as the possession of a small amount of marijuana charge, whether or not the purchase occurred. This means you could face a lot of prison time if the underlying offense is Possession with the Intent to Deliver since this is a felony charge. This means you could face jail time even if you did not personally sell any drugs, but you agreed to sell drugs with someone who did.
A Communication Facility is any private or public instrument for the transmission of writing, signals, sounds, data, or the like, of any nature. This includes any device used to communicate in any form to another person. This includes cell phones, email, and social media. While it is not illegal to use a communication facility in your daily life, it is a crime to use them to conduct the sale and purchase of drugs.
The charge of Criminal use of Communication Facility in Pennsylvania can have serious consequences that can include up to seven years in prison and thousands in fines for a single charge. This offense can also be charged multiple times in the same case. The statute allows for the police and District Attorney to charge you for every instance where the communication facility was utilized as a separate offense. This means if you exchanged 4 text messages to set up one purchase of drugs you could be charged with 4 counts of the offense.
It is important to not forget about this charge when negotiating a plea offer with the District Attorney office. If the Commonwealth agrees to let you plead to a misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance rather than the felony possession with intent to deliver count but still requires you to plead to the communication facility count you will still have a felony conviction on your record. Having a felony conviction has many collateral consequences including losing your right to possess a firearm, limiting your right to vote, and, can make it harder to find housing. It also makes it more difficult for you to find employment.
In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to use a fake, forged, or altered prescription to obtain or try to obtain prescriptions from a pharmacy. The acquisition or obtaining of possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge is a crime under the drug statutes. The severity of the offense is determined by the drug schedule of the prescription drug that was obtained.
For a Schedule I drug or a Schedule II drug which is a narcotic drug, the charge is graded as a felony. If convicted you can face imprisonment not exceeding fifteen years, a fine not exceeding two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000.00), or both. The fine can be above $250,000.00 if necessary to exhaust the assets utilized in and the profits obtained from the illegal activity.
For any other controlled substance or counterfeit substance classified as a Schedule I, II, or III, the charge is graded as a felony. If convicted you can face imprisonment not exceeding five years, a fine not exceeding fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000.00), or both.
For a Schedule IV drug, the charge is graded a felony. If convicted you can face imprisonment not exceeding three years, or a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00), or both.
For a Schedule V drug, the charge is graded as a misdemeanor. If convicted you can face imprisonment not exceeding one year, a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000.00), or both.
If you are a doctor, a nurse, or a pharmacist and are charged with facilitating, helping, or acquiring a Controlled Substance by Fraud in Pennsylvania, you could have your professional license suspended or revoked by your respective boards.
If you give, sell, prescribe, dispense, or distribute any controlled substance in violation of Pennsylvania law and that controlled substance is the cause of an overdose that results in the death of another person you will be charged with Drug Delivery resulting in Death. This offense is a felony where you can face a prison term of 20-40 years.
This charge was designed to go after the large dealers that are selling drugs throughout our communities. However, District Attorney offices are charging anyone who may have had a hand in the deceased being able to acquire the drugs that caused the overdose, including grieving family members, friends, and even doctors. The Commonwealth does not have to prove that you intended for the person to pass away only that you sold or gave them the drugs.
The sad truth about these situations is that when people overdose on a drug it is often because they were consuming multiple drugs, sometimes unknowingly if what they thought they were taking was mixed with another drug without their knowledge. It is important in these cases to scrutinize the toxicology test results to make sure you know what drug actually caused the overdose so you can determine who actually provided that drug to them.
Pennsylvania has one statute which covers both running a meth lab and dumping the waste from a meth lab.
The section relating to Operating a Methamphetamine Lab grades the offense as a felony 2 with a maximum punishment of 10 years of incarceration and a $25,000 fine. If you are convicted of operating a Meth lab within 1000 feet of a school, nursery, or daycare center and the like, the punishment is increased to a Felony 1 which increases the max punishments to 20 years and a fine of $25,000. In addition to any fine you receive you are also responsible for the cost of the cleanup process of the laboratory. In order to convict someone of this section, the Commonwealth must prove that you knowingly caused a reaction involving the chemicals needed for making methamphetamine or were preparing the substances for the production of methamphetamine. This charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 24 months in a State Correctional Facility.
The section dealing with dumping waste from a methamphetamine lab is graded as a felony 3 with a maximum punishment of 7 years of incarceration and a $15,000 fine. In addition to any fine you receive you are responsible for all of the costs of the cleanup process and for reimbursing all of the law enforcement, emergency, medical, fire, or other organizations used for cleaning up the environmental hazards associated with operating a lab or possessing the ingredients to create meth.
Pennsylvania has a statute that makes it illegal to possess certain chemicals or substances which are used in making methamphetamine. People who can show they have a legitimate use for those items, such as farmers or those in other industries, are not subject to being charged.
One of the items which might be illegal if not properly possessed and used is liquefied ammonia gas. Illegal possession or transportation of the gas is a misdemeanor offense that carries a maximum sentence of up to 5 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
Other chemicals that might be illegal to possess include phenylpropanolamine, phenyl acetone, methylamine, ammonium sulfate, ammonium nitrate, phenyl acetic acid or a precursor substance or any esters, salts optical isomers or salts of optical isomers of any of the listed substances. This also includes what are known as “precursor substances” such as red phosphorous, hypophosphoric acid, ammonium sulfate, phosphorous, iodine, hydriodic acid or ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, phenylpropanolamine or any of their salts or optical isomers, the salts of optical isomers or lithium, sodium, potassium, sassafras oil or safrole oil or other oil containing safrole or equivalent, whether in powder or liquid form, and other regulated chemicals. Illegal possession of those substances is a felony offense that carries a maximum sentence of up to 7 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $15,000.
The crime of Drug Paraphernalia is charged when you possess any items used or intended to be used for just about any illegal drug activity. This includes items for making or growing drugs, for testing, packing, storing, or concealing drugs, or for using drugs including by injecting or inhaling the drugs. The items that fall into this offense are too numerous to list, but some common items, are baggies, straws, grinders, scales, needles, spoons, and pipes. If you have a medical marijuana card some of these items might be legal if used as allowed by the medical marijuana regulations to consume your medical marijuana. If you are charged with possession of one of these items, you will face a misdemeanor charge with a jail sentence of up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500. If you are charged with giving one of these items to a minor who is three or more years younger than you, the charge is graded as a misdemeanor 2 which carries a jail sentence of up to 24 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The charge of Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance (PWID) in Pennsylvania covers the illegal manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance. It also covers knowingly creating, delivering, or possessing with intent to deliver, a counterfeit controlled substance. The statute does not require that you sell the drugs, only that you deliver them to another person. Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance is almost always a felony offense in Pennsylvania. The maximum sentence you might face if convicted depends on the substance you are alleged to have possessed with intent to deliver or delivered and can range from a maximum of 3 years up to a maximum of 15 years. It is possible to be charged with multiple counts of PWID which could result in facing decades in prison if you are convicted.
Each situation is unique to their set of facts. It is important that you hire an experienced team to join you in the fight against the Government. The team at Manchester and Associates has decades of experience and training in fighting these types of cases. Should you find yourself in a situation where you need legal representation you need to contact criminal defense attorneys who know the law inside and out. To discuss your specific situation, contact our team for a free consultation at our toll free number (800)-243-4878 or through the contact tab at the top of the page.