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Drug crime charges in Pennsylvania range from simple possession charges to trafficking and manufacturing charges. Regardless of the specific charge, if you’ve been accused of a drug crime in Pittsburgh or western Pennsylvania, you need a proper defense.

At Stanton D. Levenson, P.A. Law Offices in Pittsburgh, a Pennsylvania drug crime defense lawyer can help you navigate the criminal justice system. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys will protect your rights and fight aggressively for the best possible outcome. Contact our law firm today to learn more.

Drug Possession Crimes in Pennsylvania

The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act covers many drug offenses in Pennsylvania. The following are just a few examples of potential drug possession offenses:

  • Possession of an adulterated or misbranded controlled substance
  • Possession of a controlled substance obtained fraudulently
  • Possession of an illegal drug or a controlled substance without a prescription

The penalties someone might face for a drug possession offense in PA can vary depending on several factors. Such factors include:

  • The drug in question
  • The quantity of the drug the accused possesses
  • Any previous criminal background

Possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor, and the associated penalties are up to 30 days in prison and/or a fine of $500 or less. Possessions of a narcotic could result in felony charges with fines of up to $250,000 or more, or up to 15 years in prison, or both. Any of these charges can have a significant impact on your life and freedoms. Seek legal representation for drug charges to potentially minimize a conviction’s impact or avoid one entirely.

Potential Defenses in a Pennsylvania Drug Possession Case

There are various defenses a criminal defense attorney may employ when you face charges of drug possession. Examples include:

  • Arguing that the police engaged in unlawful search and seizure when they discovered the drugs
  • Showing you had a prescription for a drug 
  • Showing you did not intend to possess a drug
  • Showing the drug never belonged to you

The proper defense will vary depending on the nature of your case. At our Pennsylvania drug crime defense law firm, we will investigate your case and determine what strategy is right for you.

Factors Resulting in More Severe Penalties for Drug Crimes in Pennsylvania

The seriousness of a drug crime can increase when it involves:

  • Drug trafficking and distribution – If you possess large quantities of illegal or controlled substances, it may appear you intend to traffic, distribute, or otherwise sell drugs for profit.
  • Manufacturing and cultivation – Manufacturing and cultivation of illegal drugs are often necessary steps in the drug trafficking and distribution process.

These crimes are usually felonies and can result in up to $250,000 in fines, up to fifteen years in prison, or both, according to the Pennsylvania Health and Safety Code, Title 35, Section 780-113.

You don’t have to actively manufacture or cultivate an illegal drug to face relevant charges. For example, you may possess the tools and resources necessary to cultivate an illegal drug. If the evidence suggests that you intended to proceed with manufacture or cultivation, you may face charges accordingly.

In addition, some drug offenses in Pennsylvania may be more serious than others due to the nature of the drugs involved. For example, possession of certain quantities of dangerous opioids could result in more significant penalties than possession of a substance like cannabis.

Potential Defenses in Drug Trafficking, Distribution, Manufacturing, and Cultivation Cases

A Pennsylvania drug attorney may defend someone in the following ways when they’ve been charged with a serious drug offense:

  • Search and seizure violations – If the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights and illegally searched your property or premises to obtain the evidence the prosecution will use against you, your lawyer could object on constitutional grounds.
  • Entrapment – Another defense may involve showing that law enforcement induced you to commit an offense. A lawyer might be able to show entrapment in these circumstances by showing that you only engaged in trafficking because an undercover officer proposed the idea.
  • Lack of intent – The burden of proof is on the prosecution to show you intended to manufacture/sell/distribute an illegal substance. A lawyer may argue the prosecution has failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove intent. However, intent may be assumed when you possess very large quantities of illegal drugs.
  • Lack of knowledge – In rare cases, it may be possible to show that when you participated in a drug trafficking or manufacturing enterprise, you didn’t understand the nature of the enterprise.

Properly assessing the quantities of an illegal drug that you had in your possession is very important in these cases. Sometimes, whether a person faces misdemeanor penalties or felony penalties primarily depends on the quantity of the drug they were found to possess.

You may face more severe penalties than you should because the police or prosecution inaccurately determined the quantity of an illegal drug in your possession. Your lawyer may also explore this angle as a possible defense if it applies to your case.

How a Pennsylvania Drug Offense Attorney Can Help

Do not speak to law enforcement or any other such parties after a drug crime arrest in Pennsylvania. Don’t post about your case on social media or discuss it with friends or family, either.

Anything you say has the potential to harm your case. It is extremely unlikely anything you say to law enforcement will have a positive impact on the outcome.

Schedule a legal consultation with a criminal defense attorney offering legal representation for drug crimes as soon as possible. Ways in which a lawyer could help you include:

  • Developing legal strategies – An attorney can review your case and the prosecution’s evidence against you to determine how to best defend you. They may discover weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, help establish your alibi, gather evidence of police misconduct, etc. 
  • Negotiating for a plea deal – If you’re genuinely innocent of the crime of which you’ve been accused, your lawyer may help you avoid a conviction entirely. In other circumstances, they may negotiate for a plea deal or bargain. A lawyer could show that, based on such factors as your lack of previous criminal history, you deserve to plead down to a lesser charge.
  • Influencing sentencing – Avoiding a conviction isn’t always possible. You may receive a conviction for the charges if you are guilty of a drug offense. However, a lawyer may show the judge why you deserve lenient sentencing. In addition, an attorney can help you understand the terms and conditions of your sentence. Their explanation may help you avoid accidentally violating sentencing terms.

What’s most important to understand is that building a proper defense takes time. Don’t wait to contact an attorney. The sooner we can begin working on your case, the better.

Contact a Pennsylvania Drug Crime Defense Lawyer

Our team at Stanton D. Levenson, P.A. Law Offices thoroughly understands Pennsylvania drug laws and the overall legal process. We offer decades of experience, and we know how to determine and use the best defense for your situation. Learn more about how a Pennsylvania drug crime defense lawyer can assist you by contacting us online or calling us today to schedule a meeting to review your case.