Even if you are arrested for simple possession of a controlled substance and it’s your first offense, the penalties can include jail time and heavy fines. Also, a drug conviction will give you a permanent criminal record which can make it very difficult for you to obtain employment, secure housing, or get financial assistance for college or automobiles.
Depending on the specifics of your case, a first drug offense can also possibly escalate from simple possession to a drug trafficking case. Your first-time simple possession conviction can get you a year in prison and substantial ($5,000 or more) in fines. The penalties are usually dependent on the amount and type of drugs found in your possession. Usually, even a first-time marijuana charge involving less than 30 grams could impose a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail.
Consequently, if you have a larger number of drugs in your possession than the law deems consistent with your personal use, you could be charged with the much more serious offense of drug trafficking. Also, if you have drug paraphernalia in your possession, then you most likely will face an additional drug paraphernalia charge. In Pennsylvania law, drug paraphernalia can be defined as something as small as the bag your drugs were being stored in.
Simple possession charges are usually for smaller amounts of narcotics and controlled substances. To prove simple possession, the state must show that you are knowingly and intentionally in possession of this controlled substance.
The good news is, that if you have the professional and experienced defense you need, and even though Pennsylvania takes all drug crimes very seriously, you still have a right to defend your rights and prove your innocence. If you are charged with a non-violent, simple possession case, there is an alternative to serving jail time and having a permanent mark on your criminal record.
Consulting with a knowledgeable, and professional drug crimes criminal lawyer will decrease your chances of receiving harsh penalties.
Even If that is not possible, your lawyer can ask for several alternatives and drug diversion programs that exist to get your life back on track and avoid jail time. These alternatives include probation without verdict, ARD programs for a first-time drug offender, and more.
What Are Some Specific Examples of Penalties for Drug Possession in Pennsylvania?
Drug possession charges in Pennsylvania subject you to a broad range of penalties, depending on the state in which the crime occurs and especially if federal charges are involved.
The severity of your penalty depends upon several factors, such as:
- The specific type of drug involved.
- The exact circumstances surrounding the possession.
- The criminal history of the person possessing the drugs.
You need to note that penalties for possession of Schedule I drugs are the most severe and Schedule V the least severe.
Some examples of penalties you may face are:
- Fines – Many drug possession convictions result in fines. These can include minor fines of $100 or less to significant fines of $100,000 or more.
- Incarceration – Jail or prison time is a possibility when you are convicted of possession of a controlled substance. Jail sentences range widely depending on your exact crime but can range from a few days or weeks to 10 years or more in prison.
- Probation – Probation sentences are often given in drug possession cases, especially if you have excellent legal representation. Jail time and other penalties may still be included with other punishments such as fines, or rehabilitation. A sentence of probation, however, has many rules and regulations. If you fail to comply with the terms, the court can revoke your probation and order you to serve a jail or prison sentence.
- Diversion – Diversion programs are like probation and are often used in first-offender drug possession cases. With diversion, a prosecutor allows you to enter a counseling and behavior modification program, which will require you to comply with very specific terms. If you complete this program successfully though, the state may agree to drop all the drug charges.
- Rehabilitation – Many states allow courts to sentence a drug offender to a period of rehabilitation or drug treatment program instead of a jail sentence. This is an option that you and your Lemoyne criminal defense lawyer may very well decide to consider.
Always Remember That You Still Have Rights!
When you are charged with a drug crime, it may seem that all hope is lost. Just keep in mind that you do have rights, and even though these cases are complex, a qualified, thorough criminal defense drug attorney will formulate and present the best defense possible. There are usually always ways in which a lawyer can lessen the offense, modify the charges, or help you in other ways.
- Lack of actual possession of the substance – Your criminal defense lawyer, by knowing all the details of the case and arrest, might find adequate evidence to mitigate or drop the possession charge entirely
- Lack of actual intent – This may be able to be proven by your lawyer. If your attorney can show that intent to commit a crime was non-existent, it may help significantly.
- If your search and seizure were illegal – This provides more ammunition for your defense. You have constitutional rights, and they must be upheld, or evidence may be thrown out completely.
What Can Result in A Felony Drug Charge?
Felony charges for drug possession often result when you possess a particular illegal substance or any illegal possession of a certain quantity of specified drugs.
Possession of certain drugs may almost always be classified as felonies and would worsen your penalties.
Some of these drugs include:
- GHB Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid.
- Some hallucinogenic substance.
- Oxycodone (Oxycontin)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
If any of these drugs were involved in your possession case, consult with a criminal defense lawyer immediately, and get the advice you desperately need.
I’ve Been Charged with Drug Possession, How Can I Get Help?
Knowing the fact that any drug crimes can get you serious penalties in Pennsylvania, your first action should be to consult and retain an experienced and reliable Lemoyne criminal defense attorney. R. Davis Younts, Esq. has represented Dauphin & Cumberland County residents for over 18 years for drug-related crimes. He’s a former prosecutor, JAG lawyer, and a Senior Defense Counsel in the Air Force. Consult with him first, and don’t take a chance on the life-changing penalties you may face.