Under U.S. Code Section 21 § 841 – Prohibited acts A, those who are arrested for heroin possession could potentially face federal charges which may be in addition to or instead of state heroin possession charges. Heroin is highly addictive and more states are attempting to curb the use of heroin, particularly among younger people. If you are facing heroin charges in Pennsylvania, you could also be facing other charges including:
- Simple possession – A simple possession charge of heroin could result in a misdemeanor criminal offense. In many cases, if you are in possession of more than a few grams of the drug, you could face additional charges including distribution. Possession charges may be lodged against you even if you do not have the drug on your person; for example, if a passenger in your car or a guest in your home is in possession of heroin, you may also be charged.
- Distribution – Pennsylvania law enforcement officers may make a determination that you are selling heroin, even if they do not actually see you making a sale. This determination will be made based on the quantity you have on your person or in your home at the time of your arrest and in some cases, how the drug is packaged. Under The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act an act of distribution may be charged as a felony.
- Manufacturing charges – In addition to possession charges, you could also face manufacturing charges if you are arrested in your home and law enforcement believes you have been manufacturing heroin.
Additional charges may be lodged if you are in possession of a weapon and committing another crime when and are in possession of heroin. Law enforcement officers may also file additional charges if you are in a school zone or if you are in possession of drug paraphernalia.
Penalties for Heroin Charges
Under Pennsylvania laws, there are mandatory minimum sentences which are currently under question due to some recent court rulings. However, a first conviction for state prosecutions, when you are arrested with as little as one-quarter of an ounce could result in as long as three years in jail and fines of up to $15,000. The specific language dictating the fine for a first-time conviction is “or such larger amount as is sufficient to exhaust the assets utilized in and the proceeds from the illegal activity”. Second and subsequent convictions could mean you are facing as much as five years in prison and fines of at least $30,000.
Should you face federal heroin trafficking charges, they will be deemed felonies and you could face a minimum jail sentence of five years for a first conviction for as little as 100 grams of heroin and a fine of up to $5 million. Should a weapon be used in the commission of a crime or the crime take place on school property or involves a minor under the age of 18, these penalties could be even more severe. A second conviction will result in a mandatory 10 years jail time.
Facing any kind of criminal charges is frightening but if you are facing heroin charges, you need to seek immediate legal assistance. Because of the nature of these crimes, prosecutors are very aggressive in pursuing charges and even if you are told you are facing charges only in Pennsylvania, which could change. Drug charges can impact your entire life and may even impact your right to have a driver’s license for as long as six months. Should you face a conviction on a drug charge, your handgun rights may be rescinded, you could face problems seeking employment and finding housing. You will need a criminal defense attorney who understands the potential charges you could be facing in Pennsylvania as well as the federal charges you could be facing.