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If the state of Pennsylvania charged you or a loved one with drug trafficking or distribution, you face a felony conviction, which could lead to between seven and 20 years in prison. This is the case even if you are a first-time offender. Though the severity of a drug trafficking sentence depends on several factors, including the amount of drugs you had in your possession at the time of arrest and the classification of the drug, the ideal scenario would be one in which you walked away free or with sentencing for a reduced charge. To achieve either of these outcomes, you need a strong and viable defense. FindLaw explores the defenses to drug distribution charges in brief.

Pennsylvania law defines drug trafficking or distribution as “possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.” A controlled substance is any drug that is illegal and/or a narcotic, such as cocaine, marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine, etc. To prove you possessed the drugs for the sole purpose of distributing it to another person, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you grew, manufactured or obtained the illegal substance and either delivered it to another person or had the intention of doing so. If the prosecution cannot prove this, it may still charge you with illegal drug possession, which is a separate offense.

To create reasonable doubt, your defense team might use any number of defenses. One such defense is the lack of intent to deliver or distribute the drugs to another person. This defense might work if you possessed an insufficient quantity of the drug or if the drugs did not belong to you.

Another defense to drug trafficking is a lack of knowledge. However, this defense is difficult to prove, as not many people possess and distribute illegal substances unwittingly. That said, it could work if you are a practitioner who is licensed to distribute the type of drug in good faith and in the course of your profession.

Unlawful search and seizure and entrapment are also viable defenses to drug trafficking. If you can prove law enforcement searched your property or person without probable cause or a search warrant or that someone tricked you into distributing the drugs, you may have a case.

This article is for informational purposes only. You should not use it as legal advice.