Possession with intent to deliver drugs, also known as PWID, is one of the most common types of drug charges in Pennsylvania. It is a criminal offense that involves drug possession for the purpose of selling or distributing.
Who can be Charged with PWID in Pennsylvania?
Individuals meeting the following criteria can be charged with the crime of PWID in Pennsylvania:
- They are in possession of a controlled substance. The person must be in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, or other substances.
- They have the intent to deliver. The prosecution must show the individual possessing the controlled substance planned to deliver or distribute it. This intent can be demonstrated in various ways, such as by the amount of drugs found, how it was packaged, the presence of drug paraphernalia like scales, and evidence of prior drug sales.
- They have knowledge of the nature of the substance; they know or have reason to believe they are in possession of a controlled substance.
Individuals convicted of Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID) in Pennsylvania face serious consequences. The sentence will depend on factors like the type and quantity of the drug, the defendant’s prior criminal record, and where the offense occurred. If the crime was committed near a school zone or a playground, for example, the sentence can be increased.
Consequences of a Pennsylvania PWID Conviction
The minimum sentencing guidelines for PWID in Pennsylvania vary based on the quantity and type of drugs that were to be distributed. The criminal sentences that are handed down with both state and federal convictions are very significant. It is crucial to have a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney by your side as soon as possible after you are charged so that you stand a better chance of beating the charges against you, or, at the very least, having them reduced.
When convicted of PWID of marijuana in Pennsylvania, if you are in possession of over 30 grams, it is considered a felony. If you are caught with less than 30 grams of marijuana and it is your first offense, you will likely only face the charge of simple possession.
If you possess over 30 grams but less than two pounds of marijuana, the penalty could range from one to three years in prison and a fine between $5,000 and $25,000. Past that, sentencing goes as follows:
- Possession of 10 to 20 live plants or between two and 10 pounds comes with a minimum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of $5,000.
- Possession of 21 to 50 live plants or 10 to 49 pounds of marijuana comes with a minimum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of $15,000
- Possession of over 52 live plants or over 50 pounds of marijuana will come with a minimum of five years in prison and a fine of $50,000.
A conviction of possession with intent to deliver heroin is a felony. This type of conviction will remain on your criminal record and can be challenging to overcome in the future. The following are the minimum sentencing guidelines for possession with intent to deliver heroin in Pennsylvania:
- Possession of one to five grams comes with a mandatory sentence of two years imprisonment and a fine of $5,000.
- Possession of over five grams and up to 50 grams comes with a mandatory three-year prison sentence and a $15,000 fine.
- Possession of over 50 grams comes with a minimum of five years in prison and a mandatory fine of over $25,000.
If you are convicted of PWID methamphetamine in Pennsylvania, the conviction will remain on your record as a felony. Penalties vary depending on the amount as follows:
- Possession of five to under 10 grams carries a mandatory prison sentence of three years.
- Possession of 10 grams to under 100 grams carries a mandatory sentence of four years in prison.
- Possession of over 100 grams carries a mandatory sentence of five years in prison.
Cocaine and Crack Cocaine
Being charged with PWID cocaine is considered a felony in Pennsylvania and will stay on your criminal record. If this is a first offense, the penalties are as follows:
- Possession of less than two grams of cocaine comes with a minimum of a year in prison and a fine of $5,000.
- Possession of two to 10 grams of cocaine comes with a minimum sentence of two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
- Possession of over 10 grams of cocaine up to 100 grams comes with a mandatory three-year prison sentence.
- Possession of over 100 grams comes with potentially four years in prison.
Federal Court Sentences for PWID Have Different Minimum Sentences for First Offenses
Federal courts carry the following penalties for PWID. The sentencing can also differ based on the quantity and type of the drug intended for distribution.
The guidelines for federal PWID marijuana, if it is your first offense, carry the following penalties:
- Possession of one to 49 plants or less than 50 kilograms carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and a fine of $250,000.
- Possession of 50 to 99 live plants or more than 50 but not more than 99 kilograms of marijuana carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000.
- Possession of 100 to 999 live marijuana plants or 100 to 999 kilograms of marijuana carries a minimum sentence of five years imprisonment and $5,000,000 in fines.
- Possession of 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, though a maximum of more than life is also possible, and a fine of more than $10,000,000.
If it is a first offense, the following penalties for possession with intent to deliver apply:
- Possession of less than 100 grams carries a maximum fine of $1,000,000 and a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
- Possession of between 100 and 999 grams carries a minimum sentence of five years with a maximum of 40 years in prison along with a $5,000,000 fine.
- Possession of one kilogram or more carries a sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a $10,000,000 fine.
Possession with intent to deliver cocaine also comes with hefty federal fines and penalties if convicted:
- Possession of less than 500 grams carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.
- Possession of between 500 and 4,999 grams carries a minimum penalty of five years in prison or a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $5,000,000 fine.
- Possession of five kilograms or more carries a penalty of 10 years to life in prison and a fine of $10,000,000.
Defenses to PWID charges in Pennsylvania
At SMT Legal, our experienced drug attorneys in Pittsburgh have represented hundreds of individuals arrested for or charged with possession with intent to deliver, sell, or distribute drugs. As we mentioned earlier, possession with intent to deliver drugs can be charged as a felony, which comes with severe penalties upon conviction. The risk is tremendous, which means a skilled Pittsburgh drug lawyer should represent you.
Depending on the circumstances of your particular case, you can defend yourself from PWID charges by presenting any of the following defenses to drug delivery charges, among others:
- Motion to Suppress: If your criminal defense lawyer can prove law enforcement lacked reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop, detain, or arrest you, they will file a motion to suppress the drugs found in your possession so that they cannot be used against you in court.
- Actual vs. Constructive Possession: If there were no drugs on your person during the arrest (actual possession), a drug crimes defense attorney in Pittsburgh may be able to argue that constructive possession (the drugs were found in a stash location, in a car, house, or elsewhere) is insufficient grounds for PWID charges.
- Conspiracy: One of the most common defenses to PWID charges, when you were arrested as a result of narcotics surveillance, is the theory of a conspiracy.
- Mere Possession: Just because the drugs were found in your actual or constructive possession does not necessarily mean you intended to deliver, sell, or distribute them. Mere possession of narcotics is a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania and cannot be charged as PWID.
If you or someone you know were arrested for possession with intent to delivery in the Pittsburgh area, you should contact SMT Legal for a free case evaluation. Schedule a free consultation with our Pittsburgh drug crime attorneys to discuss your situation and a possible defense strategy.