If you are charged with having illegal drugs on your person, you could face stiff penalties and hefty fines. A Montgomery criminal defense attorney in your area can explain what the penalty is for possession of a controlled substance in Pennsylvania. Typical penalties can include up to a year of incarceration for a misdemeanor and up to 15 years imprisonment for a felony. Each drug possession charge also includes financial penalties.
You do not have to face charges like these on your own. An attorney will listen to your story and explain state drug possession laws and their impact on your case. Then, they’ll build a defense seeking the best possible outcome.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Possession of Controlled Substances in Pennsylvania
Drug crimes are taken seriously in the state of Pennsylvania, with convictions often resulting in loss of freedom and substantial fines. The penalties you face, if convicted of drug possession, can vary based on the amount of drugs alleged to be on your person when the arrest occurred.
According to Act No. 64 of 1972:
- Simple possession of a controlled substance is a misdemeanor with penalties that include jail time for up to a year. It can also include fines of up to $5,000.
- Sentence enhancements for drug possession apply if the controlled substance in question is gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB). Prison time increases to up to 15 years, and fines increase to up to $250,000.
A misdemeanor will negatively affect your criminal record and show up on subsequent background checks, which could potentially hinder your educational and career goals.
Penalties for Felony Possession of Controlled Substances in Pennsylvania
Felony drug possession is a more serious charge than a misdemeanor and carries harsher penalties. These penalties can include:
- Possession of various controlled substances can include prison sentences of up to three years. You could also face fines of up to $10,000.
- For possession of coca leaves, salt compounds, and their derivatives, penalties can include imprisonment for up to ten years. They can also include fines of up to $100,000 or more to eliminate any potential profit gain.
- Up to fifteen years imprisonment with as much as $250,000 in fines. Fines can also increase to deplete any potential profit from the illegal possession or sale of controlled substances.
If a criminal defense lawyer represents you, they will examine the details of your situation and explain what penalties you could face if convicted. They will consider the type of drug allegedly in your possession, how much you allegedly had, and whether you’ve been convicted of a drug-related crime in the past.
Possession of a Controlled Substance in PA Also Has Social Penalties
Any criminal arrest can have negative aftereffects that affect your reputation. An arrest can also affect you educationally and professionally, on top of the criminal penalties. Pre- and post-drug conviction consequences can include:
- Residential restrictions that limit where you reside, potentially including your eligibility for public housing
- Employment and career restrictions, depending on your industry and professional licensure that may be required
- Educational opportunities, including eligibility for student loans and housing
An arrest for the possession of a controlled substance can affect your community standing and that of your family’s. In addition, a conviction can separate you from your family and friends, disrupt your career for years, and temporarily prevent you from voting or owning legally allowed firearms.
Potential Defenses to Drug Possession Charges in Pennsylvania
When a lawyer defends you, they will listen to your version of events and identify factors that might create a credible defense against the drug charges. If you believe drugs were planted on you, you were the victim of entrapment, or were the victim of mistaken identity, your legal team could use this information when creating your defense.
Other potential defenses include:
- There was no probable cause for your search or arrest.
- You did not know the drugs in question were in your possession.
- You were in lawful possession of the drugs you had (e.g., you have approval to use medical marijuana).
Your lawyer will also examine the details of your arrest for any possible violations of your rights. For instance, if the police didn’t read your Miranda rights, and you mentioned something incriminating at the arrest scene, your lawyer can work to have those admissions disbarred from trial.
A Drug Possession Lawyer Can Advocate for You
It can be hard to navigate the criminal justice system on your own and fight criminal charges without legal support. When the stakes are this high, you want an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side to help you navigate the process. The last thing you want is a public defender––or to represent yourself. After all, your future’s on the line.
But what can a lawyer do? Your criminal defense attorney can consider the prosecution’s evidence, challenge the charges you face, and seek the best possible outcome. They can also appeal any unfair decisions and ensure your rights remain intact throughout litigation.
An Attorney May Explore Plea Bargains When Possible
Your lawyer will explore every possible avenue that can lessen the potential penalties and fines that follow a drug crime conviction. One of their defense tools is a plea bargain.
Plea bargains are mutually beneficial agreements that could result in lesser charges, lighter sentences, and smaller fines. A plea can also remove the uncertainty of a trial and let you start rebuilding your life. If this is a good option, your lawyer will pursue it. If not, don’t worry—they can take your case all the way to trial and seek a verdict.
Contact Our Law Firm 24/7 to Get Help Fighting Drug Possession Charges
Being arrested on drug charges can be scary and leave you uncertain of your future. Our lawyer will review your case and explain what the penalty is for possession of a controlled substance in Pennsylvania. We will also explain your defense options and employ the ones that suit your situation.
Find out how hard our criminal defense attorney will go to bat for you by connecting with McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. today. We offer free, no-obligation case evaluations where you can meet our team and learn more.