If you are arrested for drug possession in Montgomery County or another nearby area of Pennsylvania and later convicted, your punishment could range from as little as a $500 fine to up to 15 years behind bars. It is a crime to possess controlled substances such as marijuana, methamphetamines, cocaine, and other drugs in Pennsylvania. When it comes to the penalties you could face, it varies based on the type of drug and the amount that was found in your possession.
Since most of Pennsylvania’s largest cities have decriminalized marijuana, the number of arrests has dropped. Penalties for possessing small amounts can lead to fines between $25 and $500. But if you are charged with a felony for possession of other narcotics, you could face up to fifteen years in prison and fines of up to a quarter of a million dollars or more.
If you are worried about what the punishment is for drug possession, a criminal defense lawyer could help.
Penalties for Drug Possession in Pennsylvania
Drug possession is a serious crime the state of Pennsylvania does not take lightly. Let’s take cocaine possession, for example. Under federal and most state drug laws, cocaine is looked at as a more serious illicit drug than marijuana. If police find you in possession of a small amount of cocaine, that might be considered a misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and $5,000 in fines. If you are arrested a second time for the same offense, you could face up to three years in jail and a $25,000 fine.
If you are caught with possession of heroin in Montgomery County or a nearby area, that is an opiate and considered a Schedule I drug. That means the drug has a preponderance for abuse, and those in possession face serious criminal penalties. Pennsylvania considers simple possession of less than one gram of heroin a misdemeanor. That charge can mean you face up to one year in jail for a first offense. Similar future charges can mean up to three years in prison if convicted.
Possible Defenses to Drug Possession Charges in Pennsylvania
Keep in mind that a Montgomery County prosecutor must prove to a judge and jury you “knowingly and intentionally” possessed a controlled substance to find you guilty. This is where a criminal defense attorney familiar with the laws and statutes in Pennsylvania can assist with your case.
An attorney can build your defense and work to get the charges against you reduced or dropped. Possible defenses may include:
- Lack of intent (to sell or distribute)
- A small amount of drug in your possession
- The drugs did not belong to you
- You have a valid prescription for the drug
- Illegal search and seizure
- You have a license to carry the drug
An important note to remember is that in Pennsylvania, addiction is not considered a defense.
State-Run Program for First-Time Offenders in Pennsylvania
If this is your first offense for drug possession in Montgomery County, you may be eligible to benefit from the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD). The program, which is approved by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, aims to help first-time offenders who have no prior convictions or criminal record.
ARD also removes the necessity for expensive trials and court proceedings. If approved, you may be placed on probation, ordered to pay fines, and engage in community service. If you successfully finish the ARD program, your record could be expunged by the court.
David McKenzie of McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. is a strong advocate of the ARD program and how it can help his clients avoid incarceration and, in many cases, turn their life around.
Call McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. for Help With Your Drug Possession Charge
When you become a client of McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., the stress of navigating your own case will be lifted from your shoulders. Once you hire us to represent you, you will always be able to get a hold of your lawyer via email, text, phone, or social media. We will gather all evidence in your case and build a defense on your behalf to get your charges reduced or dropped.
Call McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. at (610) 991-7219 for a free initial consultation with a team member today.