When you are arrested on suspected drug possession charges, you face very serious consequences. Even if it doesn’t seem like a big crime, being convicted of possession of drugs has the capacity to make the rest of your life very difficult. Whether you were charged with a small amount of marijuana, an illegal bottle of prescription meds or less than an ounce of heroin, you face jail time, steep fines and a criminal record.

Possession

Consider the Following Penalties for Drug Possession

  • A simple possession of marijuana (less than 30 oz.) conviction can put you in jail for 30 days, suspend your driver’s license for a year, and fine you $500, plus court fees. All this for a drug that is legal in some states.
  • Prescription fraud or possessing prescription drugs without a valid prescription could mean a year in prison and a $5,000 fine for a first offense.
  • Possession of fewer than five grams of heroin conviction means two years in prison and a $5,000 fine for a first offense.
  • Penalties for a drug paraphernalia conviction (without any drugs) is a one year prison sentence and a $2,500 fine.

If you were charged with possession with intent to deliver drugs (PWID drugs), you face much harsher penalties upon conviction.

On top of sentencing for the crime, you could also be penalized by having your driver’s license suspended and having to pay other court costs and fees.

You also could lose basic rights, like your right to own a gun and the rights to your children, not to mention you will have a criminal record. A criminal record means you will have a difficult time finding a job, entering the military, finding housing and being accepted into college.

You will only have to serve out these penalties if you are convicted.

What Are PWID Drug Charges?

If you have been charged with PWID Drugs or Possession with Intent to Deliver Drugs in Pennsylvania, you face very serious charges and may be prosecuted by both Pennsylvania and U.S. Federal courts.

PWID charges mean that the police suspected you of any of the following criminal activities:

  • Selling drugs
  • Trafficking drugs
  • Transporting drugs
  • Cultivating drugs (growing, guarding or concealing marijuana)
  • Manufacturing drugs
  • Selling or distributing illegal prescription drugs
  • Sharing drugs

Sentencing Guidelines for Simple Drug Possession

Prosecutors and District Attorneys in Pennsylvania are not sympathetic to people accused of drug crimes. It is their job to get the maximum sentence for the alleged crime.Below are the general sentencing guidelines for people convicted of simple drug possession in Pennsylvania.

Fines and sentencing can increase or even double for multiple offenders, if you were found with drugs in a school zone or were carrying an illegal weapon or engaged in other criminal activity.

Marijuana – Simple Possession Penalties

  • Under 30 grams of cannabis: A maximum of 30 days in jail, a $500 fine and an automatic six-month driver’s license suspension from PennDOT.
  • Over 30 grams of cannabis: A maximum of one year in prison, a $5,000 fine, an automatic driver’s license suspension and a misdemeanor on your criminal record.

These penalties are for a first offense. If you have been arrested more than once, there are much steeper penalties.

Drug Paraphernalia – Possession or Sale Penalties

If you are charged with possession or sale of drug paraphernalia in Pennsylvania, from a marijuana bowl to heroin needles, you face up to one year in jail, a fine of $2,500 and a misdemeanor on your record.

Heroin – Simple Possession Penalties

  • Less than one gram of heroin, first offense: Up to one year in prison, a misdemeanor on your criminal record and a $5,000 fine.
  • Less than one gram of heroin, second offense: Up to three years in prison, a $25,000 fine and a misdemeanor on your criminal record.

Heroin– Buying Heroin Penalties

  • First time offense: Up to three years in prison, a $5,000 fine and a misdemeanor on your criminal record.

Penalties for a sentencing increase if you are found buying heroin within a school zone or if it is a second offense.

Cocaine – Simple Possession Penalties

  • First time offense for less than two grams: Up to one year in prison, a $5,000 fine and a misdemeanor on your criminal record.
  • Second offense: Up to three years in prison, a $25,000 fine and a misdemeanor on your criminal record.

Penalties for sentencing increase for a second offense. More than two grams of cocaine will put you under PWID cocaine sentencing guidelines.

MDMA / Ecstasy / PCP / Methamphetamine / Other “Party Drugs”

  • First time offense, simple possession: Up to one year in prison, a $5,000 fine and a misdemeanor on your criminal record.
  • Second offense, simple possession: Up to three years in prison, a $25,000 fine and a misdemeanor on your criminal record.
  • First time offense, PWID: Depending on the amount, Up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Illegal Prescription Drugs – Simple Possession Penalties

  • First time offense: Up to one year in prison, a $5,000 fine and a misdemeanor on your criminal record.
  • Second offense: Up to three years in prison, a $25,000 fine and a misdemeanor on your criminal record.

Other Consequences of a Drug Conviction

In addition to these penalties, there is the possibility of all the other punishments that go along with a drug conviction:

  • Having your driver’s license revoked
  • Paying court costs and other fees
  • Paying increases in car insurance
  • Having difficulty finding a job
  • Your right to own a firearm could be taken away
  • You could lose your parental rights
  • Having a criminal record
  • Having difficulty getting into college
  • Having difficulty getting student loans
  • Not being able to join the military
  • Property forfeiture

Drug Possession Charges Can Be Won in Court

You still have a fighting chance to beat your charges and get your sentencing reduced or dropped altogether. No case is ever impossible.

Even if your case can’t be won, a lesser sentence will have a huge positive difference in your life and the lives of your family members.

We will investigate whether the police followed proper procedures:

  • Was racial profiling involved?
  • Did the police illegally search your vehicle or home?
  • Did they have a valid reason for search and seizure?
  • Did the police violate any of your constitutional rights?

We will make sure we get answers to all these questions and search for any holes in the prosecution’s case. If the police did not follow proper procedures, all evidence could be thrown out and your entire case could be dismissed.

Our experienced and aggressive Criminal Attorneys in Pittsburgh will fight to prove your innocence for a complete case dismissal.

We can skillfully negotiate a plea bargain, or press for alternatives to jail time, such as the Pennsylvania Drug Court, or probation without verdict. No matter what, we will fight for a lesser sentence and a reduction in penalties if a complete dismissal is not an option.

There are several options that a defendant could take to lessen a harsh punishment, such as treatment, drug testing and drug counseling. Whenever a case dismissal is not possible, our attorneys will fight to get you in these programs to reduce jail time.

Throughout hearings, arraignments, proceedings and trial, our team will ensure you understand your rights and prepare you for hearings and trials.

Our drug crime 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. We want to help you minimize the negative impact a drug arrest will have on your life and your family. Contact SMT Legal today.

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