Drug offenses carry weighty consequences that can affect an individual’s personal and professional prospects. The laws surrounding drug crimes are complicated and make effective self-representation nearly impossible. Having a skilled criminal defense attorney who understands them well and has a strong plan of attack could increase your chances of a successful case.
A solid defense strategy that challenges the admissibility of evidence may produce a favorable outcome in the legal process. Keep reading to learn about the different kinds of drug crimes and, most importantly, how a lawyer can protect the rights of those facing alleged drug-related crimes.
Drug Laws in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act governs the State’s drug laws. The severity of drug offense penalties depends on the type and quantity of drugs involved and the individual’s previous criminal history. Consequences of a drug crime become more severe if aggravating circumstances exist, such as drug distribution to minors or selling them near schools and public places. If someone was in possession of a weapon or the drug offense involved violence, injury, or death to others, the penalties are significantly increased.
Drugs are classified into five schedules based on their potential for abuse and accepted medical use. Narcotics like heroin, marijuana, and ecstasy are classified as Schedule I drugs and have a high dependence potential with no accepted medical use. Conversely, Schedule V drugs, such as certain cough preparations, have a lower potential for abuse. When you are aware of the drug classification and corresponding penalties, you can develop an effective defense strategy.
Types of Drug Crimes
Drug crimes encompass a multitude of offenses, each with a set of criminal charges and punishments. Possession, possession with intent to distribute (PWID), manufacturing, trafficking, and conspiracy are some of Pennsylvania’s most common drug-related charges. The seriousness of these crimes is based on the type and quantity of drugs, the presence of firearms, and one’s connection to a drug distribution network.
Possession charges involve an individual having illicit drugs in their possession for personal use only. A PWID charge is more serious, as it refers to trafficking and the sale of controlled substances. Manufacturing charges apply to individuals who produce or cultivate illicit drugs. Trafficking charges often relate to the transportation and distribution of narcotics across state lines. Individuals involved in the planning or execution of drug-related crimes can have conspiracy charges brought up against them.
Strategies for Defending Against Drug Charges
A drug offense conviction can have far-reaching consequences beyond immediate legal penalties. It can affect a person’s life, including their future job prospects, possibilities for an education, housing options, and even interpersonal relationships. A drug charge on one’s record creates significant barriers and stigma that make securing gainful employment or pursuing higher education quite challenging.
Drug offenses can cause the loss of professional licenses, limiting career advancement and causing financial instability. The long-term implications of a drug offense stress the importance of hiring a skilled criminal defense attorney to mount a robust defense. Here are strategies your criminal defense lawyer can leverage when defending you against drug charges:
- Challenge the legality of the search and seizure that led to the alleged drug discovery (Fourth Amendment violation). The evidence against you may be suppressed and deemed inadmissible in court if your lawyer can prove the police conducted an illegal search without probable cause, let alone a warrant.
- Constructive possession means having control over the drugs, even if they were not physically on your person. If there is reasonable doubt about your possession, it can weaken the prosecution’s case. It is up to the prosecution to prove you possessed illegal drugs.
- You may argue entrapment as a defense if you can demonstrate that the arresting officer coerced you into committing a drug offense you otherwise would not have done.
- The prosecution must establish a clear chain of custody for the drugs to prove that the evidence was properly handled and preserved from the moment it was seized. Any breach during evidence documentation can question its accuracy and reliability.
- If the police obtained a search warrant based on false information or without meeting the necessary legal requirements, the evidence collected during the search may be suppressed.
- In some cases, individuals may have a valid need for certain drugs, such as medical marijuana (MMJ). It may provide a defense if you can prove your drug use was medically necessary and authorized under state law.
- Another effective strategy is challenging the accuracy and reliability of the drug analysis conducted by the crime lab. You can question the proficiency and credibility of the lab technician or bring in experts to challenge the results.
- Attack the credibility of prosecution witnesses, such as confidential informants or police officers, by highlighting inconsistencies in their testimonies to expose potential biases or motives.
Sometimes the evidence against you is overwhelming and may force you to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution for a lesser charge. A skilled criminal defense attorney with experience in defending drug offenses can assess your case to determine the best way forward.
Contact the Talented Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorneys at RGSG Today
If you face drug charges in Pennsylvania, you must act quickly and hire professional legal representation. The skilled criminal defense lawyers at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C., have a wealth of experience and a proven track record of success in defending clients against drug-related crimes. With a deep understanding of Pennsylvania’s drug laws and a commitment to providing personalized legal strategies, we will fight tirelessly to protect your rights and advocate for a fair outcome.
Our board-certified attorneys will guide you through every step of the legal process to ensure you are well informed and prepared. By working with us, you will have access to 65 years’ worth of legal expertise, strategic defense planning, and dedicated advocacy tailored to your unique situation. Call us at (215) 822-7575 or complete our contact form to schedule a no-obligation consultation for a case assessment and advice.