Drug Crimes

Drug Crimes

Legal Consequences of Making and Taking Drugs

The experienced lawyers at Masorti Law Group have successfully represented individuals facing drug crimes in Pennsylvania for over twenty years. Our goal is to get the most favorable outcome for each of our clients, and we aggressively defend our clients to reach that goal. In most cases, drug charges stem from the execution of a search warrant of your car or residence. Depending on the facts of your case, we might file a Motion to Suppress the evidence on the grounds that the search violated your constitutional rights. Attorney Masorti is very experienced with suppression hearings and has had many cases dismissed after successfully arguing the suppression motion.

In many drug cases, the Commonwealth uses a Confidential Informant to build a case against someone for drug crimes. In such cases, our strategy at trial is generally to attack the credibility of the confidential informant and demonstrate to the jury that their testimony should not be trusted. Skillful cross-examination is the key to this strategy. As one of the best defense attorneys, we are able to use cross-examination to demonstrate that a witness has been untruthful, biased, or otherwise lacks credibility. Most cases are won or lost on cross-examination, so it is crucial to have a veteran attorney to protect your interests.

There are many different parts of a drug case and you could find yourself being charged with any number of offenses.

Possession With Intent to Deliver

Possession With Intent to Deliver (PWID) is a very serious drug charge that could result in a felony conviction on your record. Depending on the type of drug and the amount being delivered, you could be facing significant fines and lengthy incarceration. It is not uncommon for the Commonwealth to charge someone with PWID when the facts support a lower charge of Possession, or no charges at all. The dedicated attorneys at Masorti Law Group will examine your case from every angle and seek to have the PWID charge reduced or dismissed. If that is not possible, we will fully prepare to fight the charge at trial before a jury of your peers. While some attorneys prefer to settle the majority of their cases through plea deals, we are confident in our trial abilities and are willing and able to aggressively pursue a not guilty verdict at trial.

Delivery of a Controlled Substance

Delivery of a Controlled Substance is a felony offense. Like PWID, these cases generally involve the use of a confidential informant. It is important to note that you could be found guilty of Delivery of a Controlled Substance even if you did not receive monetary funds for the drugs. Delivery simply means that you transferred a controlled substance to another individual. Thus, sharing drugs with others at a party can provide the basis for a Delivery charge in Pennsylvania. In addition to incarceration, a conviction for Delivery of a Controlled Substance will cause you to lose your driver’s license for six months for a first offense, and may negatively impact your ability to get a job, be accepted into a university, or retain a professional license. Moreover, a drug charge will likely disadvantage you in any custody proceedings for your children. Serious charges like this one require the help of a knowledgeable and trial-tested attorney.

Possession of a Controlled Substance

In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to knowingly possess a controlled substance without a valid prescription. Simple Possession is a misdemeanor offense that carries a maximum penalty of one year incarceration and a $5,000 fine. A conviction would also result in a suspension of your driver’s license. Possession of a Controlled Substance means that you had either actual possession or constructive possession of the substance. Actual possession occurs when the drugs are found on you or you have actual physical control of them. Constructive possession can also result in a Simple Possession charge if it occurs when the drugs were found in a place over which you have control or are able to access, such as a dorm room or common area.

Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana

Pennsylvania law defines “a small amount of marijuana” as less than 30 grams of cannabis for personal use. The difference between this charge and the more serious PWID is the weight of the drug involved and whether the circumstances indicate that you intended to sell the drug. The maximum penalty for possession of a small amount of marijuana is 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Just because this is a minor offense does not mean you should immediately plead guilty. An accomplished criminal defense attorney may be able to help you avoid having this even relatively small offense on your record.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

It is a misdemeanor offense to possess drug paraphernalia. The maximum penalty for this offense is one year in prison and a $2,500 fine. What constitutes paraphernalia, however, is broader than you might imagine. When most people think of paraphernalia, they think of devices used for smoking or ingesting controlled substances. However, many more items can be considered paraphernalia under Pennsylvania’s broad definition of the term. Pennsylvania law defines paraphernalia as “any device, which is used or is intended to be used for the purpose of planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packing, repacking, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.” All of that simply means items such as plastic bags, sandwich containers, aluminum foil, scales, safes, or any other object that a creative individual might utilize in relation to possession or use of an illegal drug. In other words, you could face a more serious penalty if you are found with a plastic bag containing marijuana residue than if you possessed a small amount of marijuana.

Civil Consequences of Drug Crimes

In addition to criminal proceedings arising out of drug charges, there can be civil consequences as well. For example, the government may institute forfeiture proceedings against you, which means they can take any property of yours that they believe was used in an alleged drug deal. A forfeiture case is civil in nature, which means that many of the constitutional protections given to criminal defendants do not apply. Sometimes, these forfeiture proceedings are instituted before the criminal charges are resolved. That means you could be stripped of your ownership rights even if you are ultimately found not guilty in the criminal case. The attorneys at Masorti Law Group will work with you to defend and recover what is rightfully yours.

Along with the direct consequences of a criminal conviction, there are frequently other, “collateral” consequences. These include trouble finding employment, difficulty being admitted to universities, ineligibility for educational loans, and suspension of professional licenses, to name a few. Furthermore, convictions for certain drug offenses result in mandatory suspension of your driver’s license.

If you have been charged with drug crimes, especially serious felonies, you can count on the attorneys at Masorti Law Group to put our knowledge and experience to work to get you the best result possible. Contact Us Now to learn more about how we can help.

Pennsylvania Drug Schedules

Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act lists and categorizes all controlled substances in schedules. Each controlled substance is assigned a schedule based on its severity, how addictive the substance is and whether there is a known medical use for the drug. Pennsylvania law provides for five drug schedules, and each schedule carries a different set of penalties and standards. If you have been charged with a drug crime in Pennsylvania, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A criminal defense attorney can provide you with a detailed explanation of the penalties you face, including an assessment of various factors that impact sentencing, including the type of drug involved, its weight and related charges.

Pennsylvania Schedule of Controlled Substances

The five drug schedules under Pennsylvania law range from the most serious drugs (Schedule I) to the least serious (Schedule V).
• Schedule I drugs are rated for the highest potential for abuse and generally have no known medical use in the U.S. Pennsylvania Schedule I drugs include substances such as heroin, LSD, marijuana, and methaqualone.
• Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse, but they differ from Schedule I drugs in that they have a very limited currently accepted medical use in the U.S. or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Schedule II drugs include morphine, PCP, cocaine, methadone and methamphetamine.
• Schedule III drugs have less potential for abuse than the controlled substances previously listed and have a currently accepted medical use in treatment. Schedule III drugs in Pennsylvania include anabolic steroids, codeine and hydrocodone with aspirin.
• Schedule IV drugs have a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs previously listed and include substances such as Valium and Xanax. Many prescription drugs are included in this schedule.
• Schedule V drugs are rated for the lowest potential for dependency and are accepted for medical uses in the U.S. Schedule V drugs include medications such as cough syrups with small amounts of codeine.

Penalties for Drug Crimes in Pennsylvania

The following breakdown describes the penalties you may face under Pennsylvania law based on the drug at issue. Penalties may be increased if your charges involve distribution in a school zone or distribution to a minor. Additionally, there are mandatory minimum sentences under Pennsylvania law for certain drug crimes where the weight of the controlled substance involved exceeds a specified amount or if firearms were involved in the offense.
1. Schedule I or Schedule II drugs: up to 15 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine, or both.
2. Cocaine and its derivatives, methampetamine (meth), phencyclidines (PCP), or marijuana in excess of 1,000 pounds: up to 10 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine, or both.
3. Schedule I, Schedule II, or Schedule III drug not mentioned above: up to 5 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine, or both.
4. Schedule IV drugs: up to 3 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, or both.
5. Schedule V drugs: up to 1 year in prison and up to a $1,000 fine, or both.