DRUG CRIMES BRING HARSH PENALTIES IN PENNSYLVANIA
More than five thousand drug overdose deaths were reported in Pennsylvania in 2017. Drug abuse continues to be one of the most pressing legal and social problems in the United States. In 2018, more than 1.6 million people were arrested in this nation on various drug charges.
If you are charged with the possession and/or sale of illegal drugs, the first step you must take is to find an experienced and reliable criminal defense attorney. More than a few innocent people have been charged with drug crimes in Pennsylvania. Some have been wrongly convicted.
Obtaining the right criminal defense lawyer’s help after a drug arrest is imperative. If you have been arrested on a drug charge in Dauphin or Cumberland County, you should arrange at once to speak with Lemoyne drug crimes attorney R. Davis Younts.
MARIJUANA IN PENNSYLVANIA
In 2016, medical marijuana became legal in Pennsylvania for a small number of medical conditions. Marijuana may be possessed and used in this state only with a doctor’s approval.
Marijuana remains illegal for recreational or unauthorized medical use. In fact, in 2017, Pennsylvania law enforcement officers made more than 27,000 arrests for possession of marijuana.
A first-offense conviction for possessing thirty grams or less of marijuana – “simple” possession – is a misdemeanor conviction in Pennsylvania, and the maximum penalty is a jail term of thirty days and a fine of $500.
Some Pennsylvania cities and municipalities, however, have adopted their own marijuana ordinances with lesser penalties. In Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, for example, it’s a $25 fine if you are convicted for possessing thirty grams or less of marijuana. In Harrisburg, the fine is $75.
HOW ARE OTHER DRUG POSSESSION CASES HANDLED?
If someone in Pennsylvania possesses a small quantity of an illegal drug other than marijuana for his or her personal use, that person will usually be charged with a misdemeanor punishable upon conviction with a $500 fine and up to a year in jail.
However, the possession of PCP, LSD, cocaine, methamphetamine, medical isomers, or more than one thousand pounds of marijuana can be charged as a Class Five felony punishable upon conviction with a two-to-ten-year prison term and a fine of up to $2,500.
Possession “with intent to deliver” PCP, LSD, cocaine, methamphetamine, medical isomers, or more than one thousand pounds of marijuana is punishable upon conviction with up to twenty-five years in prison and a $250,000 fine (the fine may be higher if profits surpassed $250,000).
Cultivating or manufacturing drugs illegally may be a felony or a misdemeanor. The charge will depend on the drug and the particulars of the case. A felony charge for manufacturing or cultivating drugs illegally can be penalized upon conviction with a fifteen-year prison term.
WHAT ARE THE “EXTRA-LEGAL” CONSEQUENCES OF A DRUG CONVICTION?
It is also illegal – a Class One misdemeanor – to possess drug paraphernalia in Pennsylvania. The maximum penalty for a paraphernalia possession conviction is a twelve-month jail term and a $2,500 fine. And any drug conviction – even for simple marijuana possession – can also:
- disqualify you for public benefits
- disqualify you for federal financial aid
- make it difficult to retain or find employment
- make it difficult to find a residence to rent
- make it difficult to obtain a professional license
- make it difficult to win acceptance to a higher education program
Every Pennsylvania drug crime conviction is also penalized with a suspension of the offender’s driver’s license, even if no vehicle played any part in the crime. A first drug crime conviction triggers a six-month suspension. For a second conviction, the suspension period is one year.
You can face federal and state drug charges simultaneously. A large amount of drugs, a large sum of cash, or any movement of drugs across state lines makes federal charges more likely. If you are facing both state and federal charges, your legal situation will be quite complicated.
HOW WILL A DEFENSE LAWYER HANDLE YOUR DRUG CASE?
If you are prosecuted for illegal drug possession, sales, trafficking, manufacturing, or cultivation, Lemoyne drug crimes attorney R. Davis Younts will provide sound legal advice, develop an effective defense strategy on your behalf, and bring your drug case to its best possible outcome.
As you know, you cannot be convicted of a criminal charge unless the state can prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In drug cases, a good criminal defense attorney has several ways to cast doubt on the state’s evidence against you.
Depending on the details of the charge against you, the right defense lawyer will pursue the most effective strategy for challenging the charge. If your rights were violated by law enforcement officers, that may be enough for the charge to be reduced or dismissed.
SHOULD YOU ACCEPT A PLEA DEAL?
A good criminal defense lawyer will try to have that charge reduced or dismissed and will recommend that you enter either a guilty plea or a not guilty plea. Most criminal charges in this state are either dismissed entirely or resolved with a plea agreement.
While a dismissal or an acquittal is always a defense attorney’s goal, when the evidence in a case is persuasive and a conviction is certain, a good lawyer can negotiate a plea deal for reduced or alternative sentencing. If the case against you is strong, a plea deal may be your best option.
But if you are innocent, you have the right to a jury trial where your attorney will explain why you are not guilty and will then ask the jury to return a not guilty verdict. At every stage of the legal process, a good defense lawyer will protect your rights and fight for the justice you deserve.
ABOUT LEMOYNE ATTORNEY R. DAVIS YOUNTS
Attorney R. Davis Younts has eighteen years of legal experience. He is a former prosecutor, JAG (Judge Advocate General), and Senior Defense Counsel in the U.S. Air Force. He is dedicated to winning justice for those charged with crimes in military, federal, and Pennsylvania state courts.
If you are charged with any drug crime in Dauphin or Cumberland County, call defense attorney R. Davis Younts promptly at (833) 739-5291 or (717) 612-4840. His law offices are in Lemoyne at 26 North Ninth Street. If you are accused of a drug crime, you must have a good lawyer’s help and advice.