A drug crime conviction in Pennsylvania has serious repercussions – not just for your immediate future, but also for the rest of your life. Both State and U.S. Federal courts could try and convict you. No matter how small the amount of drugs, whether it was marijuana, cocaine or heroin or illegal prescription medication–a drug arrest means that you face jail or prison time, costly fines and a criminal record that could haunt you forever. At SMT Legal, our qualified Pittsburgh drug crime lawyers are standing by when you need help.
Pittsburgh Drug Charges
Many of the crimes associated with controlled substances in Pittsburgh are defined in 35 Pennsylvania Code §780-113. Some of these include possession of the following:
- Schedule I Drugs: marijuana, heroin, LSD, MDMA (ecstacy)
- Schedule II Drugs: cocaine, methamphetamines, oxycodone
- Schedule III Drugs: ketamine, Vicodin, anabolic steroids, barbiturates
- Schedule IV Drugs: Klonopin, Soma, Xanax, valium
- Schedule V Drugs: Cough suppressants with codeine and other prescription drugs
In addition to the possession of the drugs mentioned above, a person could also face charges for the following:
- Possession or sale of legal precursor chemicals
- Drug conspiracy
- Smuggling and importation of drugs in
- Possession with intent to deliver
- Delivery of a controlled substance
- Misbranding of a controlled substance
- Acquiring a controlled substance by fraud
Possible Consequences of a Drug Conviction
Every drug crime in Pittsburgh and throughout Pennsylvania is given a gravity score. This score indicates the seriousness of the crime. Using this gravity score and the previous conviction on a person’s record, a judge will use a sentencing matrix to determine the penalty associated with a conviction. The eventual sentence could be the minimum, maximum, or somewhere in between the two.
When we turn to Pennsylvania law, we can see the outline of potential penalties for each type of drug offense. This includes:
- Third-degree misdemeanor: One year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000
- Second-degree misdemeanor: Two years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000
- First-degree misdemeanor: Five years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000
- Third-degree felony: Seven years in prison and fines up to $15,000
- Second-degree felony: 10 years in prison and fines up to $25,000
- First-degree felony: 20 years in prison and fines up to $25,000
Admittedly, the drug crime penalty schedule in the Commonwealth is confusing, which is why it is essential that you work with a Pittsburgh drug crime defense attorney as early as possible after an arrest. By working with a trusted and experienced defense lawyer, you have someone by your side who can explain the law as well as the potential punishments to you. Your attorney will be aware of any possible drug diversion program that you may be eligible for. At SMT Legal, our qualified and experienced Pittsburgh drug crime defense attorneys will stand by your side throughout your entire case.
Consider a few of the consequences of a drug crime conviction:
- A first offense of possession of marijuana under 30 grams can lead to up to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine and an automatic six month driver’s license suspension.
- A first offense of simple possession of heroin can lead to up to one year in prison, and a PWID heroin conviction is a mandatory two years in prison.
- A first offense of PWID cocaine conviction will give you a felony and up to three years in prison for 11-99 grams.
Additional Penalties for a Pittsburgh Drug Conviction
Aside from the statutory penalties that a person could face for a drug conviction in Pennsylvania, there are a number of colloquial consequences associated with these convictions. This can include the following:
- Eligibility for federal student financial aid
- Difficulty gaining admission to colleges
- Difficulty gaining scholarships or grants
- Trouble gaining employmentIneligibility for housing assistance
- Ineligibility for snap benefits
- Ineligibility for obtaining certain professional licenses
- Issues with immigration status
- Child custody and visitation issues
- Possible loss of voting rights
- Loss of the right to own and carry firearms
Fighting Drug Charges
Our experienced criminal drug lawyers try our best to make a positive difference in our clients’ lives by providing solid legal advice and preparing strong and aggressive defense strategies.
Our goal is to get your drug charges reduced or withdrawn altogether.
It is not uncommon for the Pennsylvania legal system to allow first time drug offenders and repeat offenders to receive treatment in lieu of jail time. A lawyer can help you and your family understand what drug diversion programs exist and can help negotiate a plea for these programs during a hearing or trial.
We handle all areas of a criminal drug offense, including:
- Simple Possession of a Controlled Substance, including any of the following illegal drugs or controlled substances:
- Crack Cocaine
- MDMA / Ecstasy
- Drug Paraphernalia
- Illegal Prescription Medication (Oxycontin, Valium, Xanax, Hydrocodone / Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycodone, Demerol, Adderall, etc.)
- Possession with Intent to Distribute or PWID Controlled Substance, including:
- Drug Sale / Drug Dealing / Drug Distribution
- Drug Delivery
- Drug Trafficking
- Manufacturing Drugs
- Cultivating Marijuana / Growing Marijuana
What Pittsburgh Drug Crime Lawyers Can Do For You
When you have an aggressive and experienced Pittsburgh drug attorney to thoroughly investigate your case, build a strong defense strategy and negotiate with the courts and plead your case, you significantly increase your chances of having your charges reduced or withdrawn.
A great attorney not only understands the court system but also understands the needs of his or her client and has compassion for the clients’ situation. That compassion has the capacity to carry over when it is time for hearings and sentencing and negotiating with prosecutors and making pleas to a judge.
As your attorneys we will do everything possible to have your charges or sentencing reduced (if having them dropped completely is not possible).
There are several state and county drug diversion programs that offer people the opportunity to keep their license and stay out of jail with the stipulation of participating in drug treatment programs. One such program is the Allegheny County ARD Program for first offenders. Another is Pennsylvania Drug Court. Diversionary programs are typically not something you can simply opt for, but you need the permission of the District Attorney to be accepted. We can help you with that process.
Our criminal defense attorneys believe that people are inherently good. But good people make mistakes and some are falsely accused. A harsh punishment is rarely productive for anyone. Defendants also have families who bear the burden of their loved ones being sentenced to jail and losing their job or their license. Many people need treatment programs, not harsh sentencing, especially when entire families are at stake. Our aggressive and hard working drug attorneys are here to guide you through a difficult time. Contact our office to find out your options. Everyone has unique situations and we take the time to listen to your story and fully understand the situation so that we can do everything possible to defend your rights.