Pennsylvania Drug Crimes Lawyer
Aggressive representation when you’re charged with a drug offense in Central Pennsylvania
Being charged with any type of drug offense is very serious. Many drug crimes are felonies. If you’re convicted, you can face a long-term prison sentence and huge fines. When your sentence is over, you may find it very difficult to find a job or a place to live. Drug crimes can lead to both federal charges and Pennsylvania charges.
At the Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter, our drug defense lawyers fight to obtain dismissals and acquittals of the charges. We assert every possible legal and factual defense on your behalf including seeking to suppress evidence of the drugs. We also are skilled at negotiating plea agreements where the charges are reduced to less serious offenses such as misdemeanors or lower-grade felonies. We also explain when you might be eligible for a drug court program where the focus is on treatment and rehabilitation instead of imprisonment.
What are the types of drug offenses in Pennsylvania?
If drugs are involved, you can be charged with federal or state crimes. Common Pennsylvania charges include:
- Possession of marijuana or controlled substances
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Cultivation or manufacturing of drugs
- Possession with intent to deliver drugs
- Trafficking in drugs
- Prescription drug crimes
Possession of drugs is often based on actual possession (you have the drugs on your person) or constructive possession (you have direct access to the drugs – they’re in your home or car).
How are drugs classified?
Most drugs are classified by the Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act. There are five main Schedules. Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous.
Schedule I. These drugs are easily abused. They have no accepted medical use. They’re considered unsafe without medical oversight. Drugs in this category include marijuana, various opiates, opium derivatives like heroin, and other dangerous drugs like peyote.
Schedule II. These chemicals may have some currently acceptable medical use but they have a high potential for abuse which can lead to dependency. Drugs in this category include cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl.
Schedule III drugs. These substances have a well-established medical use. Abuse will generally only cause a moderate dependency. Drugs in this category include anabolic steroids and methyprylon.
Schedule IV drugs. These drugs have a medical use that is currently accepted, a limited likelihood for dependency if abused, and a lower level of abuse than Schedule I, II, or III drugs. Many prescription drugs fall into this category.
Schedule V drugs. These are considered the least dangerous drugs – but they’re still illegal.
The federal statute that classifies drugs is the Federal Controlled Substances Act. Federal charges are usually based on some evidence that the drugs were made, distributed, or sold in another state.
What are Pennsylvania’s marijuana laws?
It used to be that possession of any amount of marijuana for any reason was illegal. Now, Pennsylvania does have some exceptions.
Small amounts of marijuana. Possession of a small amount of marijuana (30 grams or less) is handled as a misdemeanor even though marijuana is a Schedule I drug. The penalties for a small amount of marijuana are up to 30 days in jail and up to $500 in fines.
Medical marijuana. Marijuana use may now be legal for specific medical conditions and if certain conditions are met. For starters, you’ll need the approval of your doctor to use marijuana.
What are the penalties for drug crimes?
Generally, possession of any amount of a controlled substance is either a misdemeanor or a felony. Penalties include imprisonment (possibly for years or even decades) and substantial fines. Additionally, you may not be eligible for public benefits or financial aid, you may lose your professional license, and you may be denied admission into college. Convictions will appear on background checks which will make it hard to find employment or a place to live. You may also lose your driving privileges.
What defenses are used in drug crime cases?
The most common defense strategy in drug cases is for your criminal defense lawyer to seek to suppress the drug evidence. A judge may suppress the evidence if the drugs were seized in violation of your Fourth Amendment Rights or because the chain of custody of the drug was broken. We may argue that the prosecution can’t prove that you had possession of the drugs or that they can’t prove other elements of the drug charge.
Are there alternatives to trials for drug offenses in Pennsylvania?
There are several alternatives to trials on drug charges – if you qualify.
Drug courts. These courts are basically programs where you participate in a court-approved rehabilitation program for drug abuse – instead of being confined to prison. You’ll be able to work or attend school while living with your family. You will need to participate in drug counseling programs. Your progress will be monitored by the court. You will be tested regularly to see if you have drugs in your system. The program generally lasts one year and involves four phases. You will work with a probation officer. You can’t get into trouble with the law while you’re in the program.
To be eligible, the drug offense must be a non-violent offense. You can’t have a criminal record. You must be a US resident.
ARD. You may also qualify for an accelerated rehabilitation program. This program differs from the drug court program in several ways. You don’t plead guilty in an ARD program. ARD is generally used for less serious drug offenses.
At the Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter, our experienced drug defense lawyers fight to have the charges against you dismissed. We negotiate plea bargains when in your best interest and only if you consent. We work to have you placed in a suitable program if you’re eligible. To speak with a seasoned trial lawyer, call us at (717) 537-0928 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment
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