Drug Crimes in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania prosecutors take drug crimes seriously, especially in the Pittsburgh area. Many different activities fall under the umbrella of drug crimes, from misdemeanor simple possession to felony intent to distribute offenses. Conviction for drug crimes comes with serious penalties that can affect the rest of a person’s life, and the experienced drug crimes defense attorneys at Disney Law understand the necessity of having a knowledgeable lawyer in your corner. If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with a drug offense in the Pittsburgh area, call or text Robert Disney at 412-999-5765 today to schedule a consultation of your case and to learn more about your legal options. 


Pennsylvania Drug Schedules


Both Pennsylvania and the federal government classify controlled substances into different “schedules.” Each schedule reflects the alleged potential for abuse and/or therapeutic value of the substances in that category. The greater the potential for abuse and the lower the therapeutic value, the higher the schedule rating and penalties for anyone charged with crimes involving that drug. Some of the most common controlled substances in each schedule include the following:


  • Schedule I: Heroin, marijuana, LSD, and MDMA (ecstasy)
  • Schedule II: Cocaine, methamphetamines (crystal meth), oxycodone
  • Schedule III: Anabolic steroids, certain barbiturates, ketamine, Vicodin
  • Schedule IV: Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Soma
  • Schedule V: Cough suppressants that contain certain amounts of codeine, other prescription drugs


The crimes a person can be charged with and associated penalties for drug offenses in Pennsylvania are dictated by the schedule and amount of controlled substances involved in the alleged crime.


Drug Possession


One of the most common drug crimes in Pennsylvania is drug possession. It is a crime to have a controlled substance in your possession on your body, in your vehicle, in your home, or anywhere else where you can technically possess it. For small amounts of controlled substances, the first offense for drug possession is a misdemeanor offense with penalties that can include up to one year in jail and fines up to $5,000. Subsequent offenses elevate the penalties to up to three years in jail and fines up to $25,000.


Possession of marijuana has its own separate set of penalties. For small amounts of marijuana, it is a misdemeanor offense with penalties that include up to 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500. However, if a person is arrested for possessing large quantities of marijuana or other controlled substances, the crimes are usually elevated to felony offenses with significantly more serious penalties.


In addition to drug possession, a person in Pennsylvania can also be arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Drug paraphernalia refers to anything used to create, ingest, or distribute controlled substances, such as bongs, cooking spoons, scales, and more. This charge is usually added in addition to other drug charges, but it can also be a standalone crime. Possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor offense with penalties that include up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,500.


Unlawful Manufacturing of Drugs


An unlawful manufacturing charge occurs when police suspect a person of producing, preparing, growing, compounding, converting, processing, packaging, or repackaging a controlled substance. This is a felony offense with penalties that range depending on the schedule of drugs and the amount manufactured. A person in Pennsylvania can face up to fifteen years in prison and fines up to $250,000 in the most serious cases of unlawful manufacturing of drugs.


Drug Possession With Intent to Deliver


Possession with intent to deliver (PWID) is also known as drug trafficking. Intent to deliver crimes mean that a person is accused of distributing or selling controlled substances. This offense is a felony crime, and like other Pennsylvania drug offenses the penalties vary based on the schedule and quantity of drugs involved. Furthermore, the law in Pennsylvania makes no distinction between a person selling controlled substances and giving them away for free, so even offering a friend a controlled substance free of charge can result in serious criminal offenses. Even just a first offense for PWID with a Schedule I substance can result in a five year prison sentence and fines up to $15,000, with penalties increasing to 15 years in prison and fines up to $250,000 depending on the seriousness of the offense.


Other Consequences of Drug Crime Convictions


In addition to prison time and substantial fines, there are other consequences of drug crime conviction in Pennsylvania. For each conviction, a person’s driver’s license is suspended. For the first conviction, the license is suspended for six months upon release, for a second conviction the suspension increases to one year, and for subsequent convictions the license is suspended for two years.


Conviction also means having a criminal record, which can affect applications for employment, housing, and education. Drug convictions can make it difficult or impossible to get professional licenses or security clearance for certain professions, and felony offenses further restrict a person’s ability to possess firearms, vote, and engage in other activities that everyday citizens are allowed to do.


How an Experienced Drug Crimes Attorney can Help


An experienced drug crimes defense attorney can make all the difference when it comes to a Pennsylvania drug offense case. An attorney understands the law and the possible defenses for the crimes of which a person is accused. A lawyer will go through all the evidence and how it was collected, which could result in evidence being thrown out against the defendant if collected illegally. This could result in charges being mitigated or dropped completely. If the case goes to trial, a knowledgeable lawyer has experience with the court and the prosecutors, and they know how to make the best possible arguments in your defense.


Talk to Our Office Now


Have you, or someone you know, been arrested and charged with a drug crime in the Pittsburgh area? If so, you need a knowledgeable Pennsylvania drug crimes defense attorney by your side to protect and defend your rights. Call or text Robert Disney at 412-999-5765 or contact us today at Disney Law to schedule a consultation of your case and to learn more about your legal options.