The unlawful possession of any drug for personal use is a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. If the police believe that you possessed the controlled substance with the intent to deliver, you will be prosecuted for a felony. If convicted, you could face stiff penalties and possibly be sentenced to serve time in prison. Your license to drive will be suspended.
The possession of controlled substances is a crime in Pennsylvania. The possession of a certain amount of drugs is a more serious crime, specifically Possession With Intent to Deliver, and carries severe penalties in terms of the length of incarceration and the amount of fines, in addition to the stigma that attaches in terms of educational and employment opportunities. Other charges include Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Illegal Prescription Drug Possession, and Illegal Drug Trafficking.
The drug charge that an individual will face depends on the type of drug (marijuana, heroin, cocaine, etc.) and the quantity of the drug that was found on the individual. An individual may be charged not only on what was found on his/her person, but also on what was found in his/her motor vehicle, residence, locker, or other area that he/she used or had access to.
Depending on the circumstances as to how the drugs were discovered and seized by the police, there may be certain defenses that an individual may be able to assert to prevent being prosecuted on some and/or all of the charges that are filed. Additionally, certain statements that an individual may have made to the police may also be suppressed, or prevented from being used by the prosecution, depending on what was said, or not said, by the police before these statements were made.
These defenses are asserted through the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and certain Amendments to these Constitutions; including the Fourth, the Fifth, and the Sixth. These defenses are also asserted through various Statutes/Laws and Rules of Criminal Procedure, providing for the preparation and filing of Petitions/Motions identifying these defenses and summarizing why the individual should be granted the appropriate recourse based on previous cases that have interpreted/applied these Amendments and Statutes/ Laws and Rules.
These defenses are identified and developed by reviewing the Complaint and Affidavit of Probable Cause that the police filed, as to why they believe that crimes were committed. The basis of the Complaint and Affidavit of Probable Cause can be challenged at a Preliminary Hearing, before a Magistrate District Justice, where the police are required to present the testimony of witnesses, and lab reports, etc., corroborating the charges that they filed. A court reporter may be present to record what is said at a preliminary hearing. Typically, charges are not dismissed at a preliminary hearing, but a record is made that can be used afterwards to file certain Petitions/Motions. Oftentimes, a discussion may take place between the prosecutor and defense counsel resulting in charges being lowered, depending on the assessment of the facts and applicability of defenses.
After the preliminary hearing and up until the time of trial, discovery requests are made to determine everything that the prosecutor intends to use to obtain a conviction. Effort is also made to conduct an investigation to determine if any witnesses exist to counter the prosecution’s case and to support the basis of any of the earlier referenced Petitions/Motions challenging the legality of how the drugs were found and how the statements/evidence linking said drugs to the accused were obtained. These include Motions to Suppress for Lack of Probable Cause to Stop/ Search, Motions to Suppress for Violations of the Right to Remain Silent, and Petitions for Writ of Habeas Corpus for Lack of Evidence of a Crime. Efforts are also made to gather all available information to prepare all possible defenses at trial.
Common drug possession crimes include the following:
- Drug Possession
- Drug Possession with Intent to Deliver
- Illegal Drug Paraphernalia Possession
- Prescription Drug Charges
Defenses to drug possession charges include the following:
- Lack of intent
- Lack of knowledge
- The stop and search were unlawful
- You had a valid prescription
- While charged with intent to deliver, you are actually a user
- You simply did not possess the controlled substance
Possession and Possession With Intent to Deliver (PWID) are two of the most common crimes in Pennsylvania. If you have been charged with a Drug related crime, you are not alone. Despite recent more social acceptance of drug use, even possession of a small amount of a controlled substance can have devastating consequences for you and your loved one.
The Attorneys of the Pittsburgh Criminal Law Group have over 80 years of combined experience in handling drug related crimes. Our attorneys have had success in obtaining favorable outcomes for clients who faced charges relating to:
- Possession of a Controlled Substance
- Possession of Paraphernalia
- Possession With Intent to Deliver
- Cocaine Charges
- Heroin Charges
- Marijuana Charges
- Methamphetamine Charges
- MDMA Cahrges
- Prescription Drugs
GET EXPERIENCE ON YOUR SIDE
Drug related charges can quickly become very complex and very serious due to Constitutional infringements and the nature of the crimes involved. The Pittsburgh Criminal Law Group has over 50 years of combined experience dealing with drug crimes. Our attorneys will work to make sure that your rights are not violated and that every piece of evidence that can be suppressed will be suppressed. Being accused of a drug related crime can be a very trying time for you and your loved ones. Allow the Pittsburgh Criminal Law Group to handle your case in an aggressive and professional manner. We will work with you one on one and explore every possible defense and opportunity to discredit the prosecution’s case. the Pittsburgh Criminal Law Group will make sure that your side of the story is heard and that you are given the best defense possible. If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug related crime, do not hesitate to call today.