Pennsylvania residents who find themselves facing criminal charges will have many things to learn about. The criminal defense process is one part of things they will need to know but so too is how a potential conviction may affect the rest of their lives. From a reckless driving charge to a homicide charge, these situations can have consequences far beyond fines or prison sentences.
Most Pennsylvania residents have read or seen media stories about people arrested for various crimes. These stories often seem to make it easy for readers or viewers to get the impression that the accused person is always guilty. That, however, is not an accurate representation. Our nation's laws require that every person be assumed innocent until or unless he or she is proven guilty. This is so regardless of the defendant's social, economic or public status.
After suffering an injury, many people in Pennsylvania head to the doctor for treatment, which frequently includes a prescription for pain medication. This is often necessary to be able to function somewhat normally while undergoing physical therapy or other rehabilitation. However, if the doctor is not monitoring the situation closely, a temporary dependence on an opioid medication, also known as a narcotic, could turn into a serious substance abuse problem.
In an effort to avoid drug charges, people in Philadelphia, and throughout Pennsylvania, may attempt to hide or discard potentially incriminating evidence. However, this may be seen as an effort to tamper with evidence or resist arrest. Consequently, it may only add to the potential charges they face, and hinder their drug crime defense.
Although it is a scheduled controlled substance, drug crimes involving marijuana are handled differently than those involving other illegal substances in Pennsylvania. This includes offenses relating to the distribution of marijuana. In order for people to help protect their rights, it may be helpful for them to have an understanding of marijuana distribution charges, and the potential penalties for this offense.
When most people think of illegal drugs, substances like marijuana and cocaine are typically what come to mind. Many people fail to realize, however, that prescription medications may also be considered illegal, if they do not have valid prescriptions. Based on a 2013 survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, it was estimated that nearly 6.5 million people across the U.S. were using prescription medications for non-medicinal purposes. If such medications are obtained fraudulently in Philadelphia, or throughout Pennsylvania, people could face prescription drug fraud charges.
Law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania, and throughout the U.S., often use drug-sniffing dogs when investigating drug-related offenses. Like many who are the subjects of such investigations, you may question whether the use of these dogs on your private property was legal. In order to help ensure your rights are not violated, it may benefit you to understand what is required for authorities to use drug dogs.
Often, law enforcement agencies throughout Pennsylvania send undercover officers out to purchase or sell drugs. Following these transactions, authorities often take people into custody and charge them with drug trafficking or other drug crimes. If convicted of such offenses, those charged could face severe consequences, including possible jail or prison time.
While some states throughout the U.S. have legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes, Pennsylvania is not yet one of them. As such, the possession of this Schedule I substance is considered a serious crime and a conviction on these charges could result in significant penalties. The Pennsylvania State Police report that in June of 2014 alone, more than 1,800 people were arrested for possession of marijuana. The consequences that those charged with this drug crime face vary depending on the amount of marijuana that is found in a person’s possession, as well as his or her prior record.
Subpoenas are often mentioned in the Pennsylvania news, but the technical meaning of this legal term may not be understood by everyone. According to Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute, a subpoena is a document that compels a person to provide testimony in some sort of formal legal setting. These written orders often require the person to appear before a court, but can they can also involve other types of proceedings, such as providing testimony for a Congressional inquiry.