Pittsburgh Drug Crime Defense Lawyers
Drugs have been and will continue to be a hot-button issue here in Pennsylvania. It is for this reason that state and federal prosecutors are quick to act in drug crimes cases. You must ensure you act just as quickly to obtain a skilled drug crimes defense lawyer to build the strongest possible defense on your behalf.
With more than 45 years of combined legal experience, our team at DRK Lawyers knows how to tackle all drug crimes involving:
- Synthetic Marijuana
- Prescription drugs
- Other Controlled Substances
- Drug paraphernalia
- Drug Possession
Possession of a Controlled Substance
Under The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act in Pennsylvania drug possession is broken out into five categories known as schedules. The least serious possessions are considered Schedule V while the most serious are Schedule I. The schedules are broken out as follows:
- Schedule I – Those drugs which have been determined to have no known medical use. Possession of marijuana and heroin fall into this category.
- Schedule II – These drugs have limited medical use and have a high potential for abuse. These include cocaine, opiates, and methamphetamine.
- Schedule III – These drugs have been determined to have a medical use and are believed to have less potential for abuse. Lysergic acid (LSD) and anabolic steroids are included in this category.
- Schedule IV – This category mostly pertains to prescription drugs which have a low potential for abuse and are commonly used for medical reasons.
- Schedule V – Generally these drugs are used medicinally and have the least potential for abuse. Cough medicines and other drugs with small amounts of opium or codeine would be categorized as Schedule V.
Possession of a Controlled Substance Charges
In nearly all possessions cases, you could be facing steep fines even for small amounts of a controlled substance. In addition to possession charges, you may also face charges for distribution if you have more than certain minimum amounts of any controlled substance and you may also face charges including Manufacture, Delivering or Possession with Intent to Deliver Controlled Substances (PWID). Keep in mind, any drug conviction regardless of whether it is classified as a misdemeanor or penalty will result in your losing your legal right to possess a firearm in Pennsylvania.
Penalties for Possession of a Controlled Substance
When you are charged with possession or the more serious PWID crimes, you could face very steep fines as well as jail time. It is important to note that early in 2015, a court determined that mandatory sentencing was a violation of the constitution and therefore, most drug possession charges may no longer be subjected to mandatory sentences. However, those who are charged and convicted could still face:
- Simple possession – First convictions could result in fines of up to $5,000 with enhancements if you were in possession of more than 30 grams. Subsequent convictions could result in fines of up to $25,000.
- Possession of paraphernalia – A first conviction could result in fines of up to $5,000.
- Criminal Use of a Communications facility – If you are found guilty of having used a telephone or computer to facilitate the purchase, sale or distribution of drugs, you could face felony charges and fines of up to $15,000.
In most cases of drug possession, you will be facing misdemeanor charges although there are cases where you could be charged with a felony. Felony convictions could result in longer jail time as well as higher fines. Keep in mind, in addition to the charges you could be facing on the state level, in some cases, you could also be facing federal drug charges.
Prosecutors Burden of Proof
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a fairly high burden of proof when trying to prove a drug possession case against you. In many cases, because of this high level of proof, your criminal defense attorney may find it easier to fight the charges against you. To prosecute possession charges, the prosecution must prove:
- That you had no proper prescription and knowingly were in possession of a controlled substance
- The prosecution must prove that you were aware the drug on your possession was a controlled substance and, therefore, considered illegal
- That at the time if your arrest you had what is known as constructive possession of the drug
We Have the Experience to Fight Your State and Federal Drug Charges
In addition to our many years of hands-on courtroom experience, each of our lawyers also has experience working as a prosecutor. This means we know the local and state judges and prosecutors, including what they look for in a case and what evidence the court requires for a conviction.
If your drug crime falls under federal court jurisdiction, you could find yourself facing higher stakes than you can handle. For instance, potential consequences of federal drug charges conviction include mandatory minimum prison sentences, thousands of dollars in fines, and the inability to obtain employment or loans. Turn to our team for the strong criminal defense representation you need when facing these types of drug charges:
- Drug cultivation
- Drug trafficking
- Drug manufacturing
- Forgery or fraud related to prescription drugs
We Know What the Prosecution Must Prove
What’s more, as former assistant district attorneys, we know how to craft detailed defense strategies that get at the heart of the prosecution’s case. We will seek to weaken the prosecution’s arguments based on any holes or issues we see with:
- Probable cause: Did the officers have probable cause to search you, your home or your vehicle?
- Search and seizure: Did law enforcement follow all necessary search and seizure process requirements as required by Pennsylvania law?
- Chain of custody: Can the prosecution account for the location and safety of the evidence against you from the point of initial discovery through to trial?
One misstep in any of these areas can lead to a full dismissal of your drug charges. Let us help you identify what defense strategies are available in your case to help you reach the best outcome.