If you are arrested and are found to have cocaine on your person, you could be facing numerous charges under Pennsylvania laws. In addition to possession charges, you could also face charges of distribution and manufacturing. There may also be additional federal charges you could face pertaining to possession of a controlled substance.
Cocaine Charges in Pittsburgh
The U. S. Justice Department has determined that the incidence of cocaine is very high across Pennsylvania. Cocaine is considered a Schedule II drug under the PA Schedule of Controlled Substances and the penalties for possession are typically very harsh. In addition to facing charges of possession you could also be facing charges of:
- Distribution – The arresting officer may charge you with distribution depending on the amount of cocaine you have on your person at the time of your arrest as well as how the cocaine is packaged. It is important to understand the officer does not have to actually see you making a sale to file distribution charges.
- Manufacturing of cocaine – Law enforcement officers could charge you with manufacturing cocaine if you are found in a location where there is reason to believe the drug is being created for future distribution.
- Conspiracy – If law enforcement has any reason to believe you have worked with others to manufacture, sell or otherwise distribute cocaine, you could also be facing conspiracy charges under the law. State law and federal laws may apply in this case.
Penalties for Cocaine Possession
Those who are facing straight possession charges could be looking at the following fines and jail time. While recent court rulings have resulted in whether you can face mandatory sentencing, jail time is assessed based on the amount of cocaine in your possession:
- 2 grams to < 10 grams – for a first conviction you could be facing one year in jail and subsequent convictions may result in up to three years prison time.
- 10 grams < 100 grams – a first conviction could result in up to three years in prison and second convictions could result in up to five years jail time.
- 100 grams or more – a first conviction could mean up to four years jail time while multiple convictions could result in up to seven years in jail.
Fines for possession of cocaine can range from $5,000 for a first conviction on a simple possession charge up to $250,000 for a conviction on more serious sale and distribution charges.
Will You Face Felony or Misdemeanor Charges
Whether the charges against you will be felonies or misdemeanor charges depends on the charges you are facing. In most cases, simple possession is charged as a misdemeanor crime while manufacture, distribution and conspiracy charges would be charged as a felony. In some cases, a misdemeanor possession charge may be enhanced if the person arrested possesses a handgun or if they are found in a school zone.
Any cocaine charges should be taken very seriously. Under the current laws of Pennsylvania, you can be facing jail time, steep fines and the potential loss of your right to own a gun in the future. Additionally, anyone convicted of a drug charge will face difficulties with a criminal record that will follow them for the rest of their lives.
If you are arrested and charged with any drug charges including cocaine, it is important to contact a drug defense attorney immediately. Pennsylvania prosecutors are very aggressive in pursuing charges against defendants who violate the Controlled Substances, Drugs, Devices and Cosmetics Act and you will need an aggressive criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and help preserve your freedom.