A Skilled Drug Crime Lawyer in Pennsylvania Can Fight Your Drug Charges
If you’ve been arrested on drug charges, it’s important to have a skilled drug crime lawyer in Pennsylvania on your side. Drug crimes can carry serious penalties, and if you end up with a conviction, you can face jail time, fines, and a criminal record.
An experienced PA drug crime lawyer will fight for your rights and help ensure that you get the best possible outcome in your case. If you’re facing drug charges, contact Kitay Law offices today to learn more about how we can help defend your criminal charges.
Common charges your Drug Crime Lawyer in PA should know
There are many types of drug charges that a drug crime lawyer in Pennsylvania can help with. For example, you may have criminal charges for drug possession, distribution, manufacturing, or other crimes.
Experienced drug charge defense lawyers understand the elements of each charge and can work to challenge the evidence against you. Here are some of the most common Pennsylvania drug charges we defend for our clients.
Drug Possession, as explained by a Drug Possession Lawyer in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, drug possession is defined as the unlawful possession of a controlled substance. To be convicted of drug possession, the prosecutor must show that you knowingly and intentionally possessed the drug. For this reason, this charge is frequently known as “K&I” or even “simple possession.”
Drug possession can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the amount of drugs involved. Penalties can range from probation to several years in prison.
A typical first offense carries up to 1 year in jail with costs and fines up to $100,000. Subsequent convictions can result in higher penalties.
Drug trafficking is a serious offense in Pennsylvania. If you receive a drug trafficking conviction, you may face years in prison and substantial fines. This is why it’s important to hire an experienced Drug Crime Lawyer in Pennsylvania if you find yourself in that situation.
To be convicted of drug trafficking, the prosecutor must prove that you knowingly and intentionally transported or sold a controlled substance. The penalties for drug trafficking depend on the amount of drugs involved.
Surprisingly, it’s common to wind up with drug trafficking charges if they find you with a large amount of drugs at the time of arrest. In this situation, the prosecution will try to show that the only reason you had such a large amount is that you intended to sell the drugs to others. If this applies to your case, contact a drug possession lawyer in Pennsylvania immediately.
In Pennsylvania, drug distribution charges are frequently called “possession with intent to deliver,” or PWID. This is a felony charge and carries a minimum five-year prison sentence if convicted.
To prove their case, the prosecution must show that you grew, manufactured, purchased, or received an illegal drug with the intent to deliver it to another person. Notice that your intent is the key here. An experienced drug crime lawyer may work to demonstrate that you had no such intention.
Drug manufacturing in Pennsylvania is defined as the unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance. To be convicted of drug manufacturing, the prosecutor must show that you knowingly and intentionally manufactured the drug.
Notably, drug manufacturing charges may result from a variety of circumstances. For example:
- Operating a drug lab
- Conspiring with others to manufacture drugs, even if you are not directly part of the manufacturing process
- Growing products for use in the manufacture of drugs
This is not an exhaustive list, and it’s possible to receive charges for drug manufacturing under other circumstances.
Criminal Use of a Communications Facility
Did you use a cell phone to arrange a drug deal? If so, expect to see Criminal Use of a Communications Facility on your list of charges. Discuss these charges with a drug crime lawyer in Pennsylvania right away to ensure you can develop a strong defense.
Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana
Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana is unique in Pennsylvania. Drug Possession is still against the law, and possessing marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. However, Pennsylvania has begun to exercise more leniency toward marijuana in recent years.
If carrying 30 grams of marijuana or less for personal use, this law imposes a much lighter penalty than traditional drug possession charges. Instead, the law treats this as an ungraded misdemeanor with up to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both. Importantly, an experienced drug possession attorney will be able to explain whether this charge is appropriate in your situation.
Remember, marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Differences between state law and federal law on this issue persist throughout the United States. As an example, Pennsylvania does allow for patients with qualifying medical conditions to obtain medical marijuana legally through the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program.
We expect further conversations on this issue to unfold throughout states and the federal government in the future.
Can a Drug Possession Lawyer in PA explain how the prosecution proves “possession?”
The prosecution may use a variety of methods to prove drug possession under Pennsylvania law. Some of these methods may include eyewitness testimony, drug paraphernalia, and controlled substances.
Importantly, however, Pennsylvania law recognizes two primary methods the prosecution may use to prove that you “possessed” drugs. These include Actual and Constructive possession.
The definition of Actual Possession is having drugs on your person, in your immediate control, or in a location you have access to. This could be in your pocket, your car, your home, or any other place you have dominion over.
Constructive Possession is more complex, and applies when the drugs are not on your person. In this case, the prosecution must show that you had knowledge of the drugs and the intent to control them.
There are a few ways the prosecution may try to demonstrate Constructive Possession. For example:
- If the police find drugs in a place where you have exclusive access, like a safety deposit box or your home.
- You are near the drugs when upon discovery, even if you don’t have direct control over them.
- If you were driving a car with drugs in it.
Knowingly and Intentionally Possessing the Drugs
Note that the law requires the prosecution to also prove that you both knowingly and intentionally possessed the drugs. This can be a very tricky issue and is good to discuss with a skilled drug possession attorney.
A common example of this issue is when the police discover drugs in a secret or hidden location. While you may have had the ability to access that location, someone else may have placed the drugs there without your knowledge.
Stages where your PA Drug Charge Defense Lawyer can challenge the evidence against you
When you receive criminal charges, the evidence against you can seem overwhelming. However, there are several stages in criminal litigation where your drug charge defense lawyer in PA can challenge the evidence against you. These include pretrial motions, trial, and post-trial appeals.
Each of these stages offers an opportunity for your lawyer to review the evidence and find potential holes in the prosecution’s case. Below, we will explore some situations where your drug crime lawyer can challenge the evidence against you.
Motion to Dismiss at Preliminary Hearing
If you have been charged with a drug crime, your lawyer may file a motion to dismiss at your preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing is a hearing where the prosecution must show that there is probable cause to believe that you committed each element of a crime that has been charged. This is a lower standard than having to prove that you committed a crime “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a trial.
If your lawyer is successful in convincing the judge there is insufficient evidence against you, your charges will qualify for dismissal and you will not have to go to trial. However, if the judge finds that there is probable cause to believe that you committed a crime, your case will move forward.
If you have been charged with a drug crime in Pennsylvania, you have the right to a speedy trial. This means that your case must be tried within a certain period of time after you have been charged. The length of time you have to wait for your trial depends on the severity of the crime you are charged with.
If you are facing drug possession charges, you have the right to a trial within 180 days of your charges’ issuance. However, if you are facing more serious drug crimes, like drug trafficking, you may have to wait up to one year for your trial.
The speedy trial requirement exists to protect your constitutional rights. It ensures that you are not waiting for months or even years for your day in court. If the prosecution is not able to try your case within the requisite timeframe, your drug crime lawyer can attempt to dismiss your charges.
Motion to Reveal Confidential Informant
If you are facing drug charges in Pennsylvania, your drug charge defense lawyer in Pennsylvania may file a motion to reveal the identity of any confidential informants. A confidential informant is someone who provides information to the police in exchange for money or immunity from prosecution.
Your lawyer may file this motion if he or she believes that the informant was party to the drug transaction leading to your arrest. By revealing the identity of the informant, your lawyer can investigate whether the informant had any motive to lie about you. This could potentially lead to the dismissal of your case.
Your lawyer may also be able to use information gleaned from the informant to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution. Furthermore, if the prosecution knows that your drug crime attorney has information that could discredit their witness, they may be more likely to offer you a favorable plea deal.
Motion to Suppress
When you receive charges for a drug crime, your lawyer may file a motion to suppress evidence. This means that your lawyer will ask the court to exclude any evidence that was obtained illegally. There are several reasons why evidence may be considered illegally obtained, including:
- The police conducted an illegal search and seizure
- The police violated your constitutional rights
- Use of improper interrogation techniques to generate evidence
If the court agrees to suppress the evidence, the prosecution cannot use it against you in trial. In fact, this could potentially lead to the dismissal of your case.
Your lawyer will have to show the evidence comes from illegal means and that it was not coincidence that the evidence suddenly becomes available only after your arrest. This can be a difficult task, but if successful, it could mean the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.
Federal drug classification guidelines for drug possession charges
The federal government classifies drugs into five categories, or schedules, based on their potential for abuse and medicinal use. This is called the Controlled Substances Act. These categories are:
- Schedule I: Drugs with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. These may include drugs like heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy
- Schedule II: Drugs with a high potential for abuse and a moderate to high potential for addiction. Some examples include Oxycontin, Cocaine, and Fentanyl.
- Schedule III: Drugs with a lower potential for abuse than Schedule I or II drugs and a moderate potential for addiction. Common examples include prescription drugs like Vicodin and Tylenol with Codeine.
- Schedule IV: Drugs with a low potential for abuse and limited addiction potential. Soma and Valium are common examples here.
- Schedule V: Drugs with the lowest potential for abuse. These may include drugs like Robitussin and Lyrica.
Interestingly, Marijuana is still a Schedule I substance under federal law. Therefore, related drug charges can be complex to handle. Ensure you speak with an experienced drug possession lawyer in PA about your specific case.
An experienced Drug Crime Lawyer in Pennsylvania will use the sentencing factors to argue for a lower sentence
When you receive a drug crime conviction in Pennsylvania, the court will consider a number of factors to determine your sentence. Additionally, your PA drug crime lawyer can help you argue for a lower sentence based on several criteria.
Factors that affect the sentencing range
In Pennsylvania, the sentencing range for drug crimes depends on a number of factors, including the type of drug involved, the amount of the drug, and whether you have any prior convictions.
Once the court has established the core sentencing range, the judge will examine factors that could influence your sentence to be either longer or shorter, which we discuss in our next section.
Aggravating or mitigating factors you PA Drug Crime Lawyer will discuss
Factors that may cause your sentence to be longer or shorter than the starting range are “aggravating or mitigating factors.” Some examples include:
- Prior criminal history
- Family background
- Work/career situation
- Educational background
- Military status
- Community involvement
- Whether a weapon is part of the crime
Ensure you discuss these factors with your PA drug crime lawyer so they can work toward a lighter sentence.
Alternative resources during sentencing
In addition, your PA drug charge defense attorney may be able to argue for alternative sentencing methods or resources. These may include those that allow for educational/vocational services, rehabilitation, or work release.
Additional consequences following a drug charge conviction
If convicted of a drug crime in Pennsylvania, you may be subject to additional consequences besides incarceration and fines. Some of these consequences can be just as devastating on your life.
In particular, here is a list of of some of the repercussions that may occur after a drug crime conviction:
- Lose public benefits
- Driver’s license suspension for at least 6 months
- Disqualified from receiving federal financial aid to support higher education
- Denied admission, or expulsion, from higher education programs
- Lose your job and have a hard time finding new employment
- Harder to obtain a professional license
- Trouble finding a place to rent
As a result, it is imperative that you discuss your case with a skilled drug crime lawyer. In some situations, these additional consequences can severely impact your life and future, so consult a legal counsel immediately.
Contact the experienced Drug Crime Lawyers in Pennsylvania at Kitay Law Offices to defend against your drug charges
If you received a drug crime charge in Pennsylvania, it’s important to seek legal representation right away. The PA Drug Crime Lawyers at Kitay Law Offices can help you fight the charges and may be able to reduce or dismiss them altogether. Contact our law firm today for a free consultation.