Pittsburgh Heroin Lawyer

Pittsburgh Heroin Attorneys

If you were charged with heroin in Western PA, get information on your legal rights and the next steps in fighting your charges.

Heroin use has become so mainstream across the United States over the past several years. Cheaper than beer, it is no longer an “urban” drug but affects people from all walks of life from the suburbs to rural areas.

The number of people dying from overdoses and tainted heroin or “look-alike” heroin, such as fentanyl, is increasing dramatically and law enforcement agencies are cracking down. In 2020, 590 people died from opioid overdoses in Allegheny County alone, most of those were heroin-related deaths.

Pennsylvania Heroin Laws, Penalties, and Programs.

An Arrest is NOT a conviction.

If you were arrested or charged with heroin possession you probably have many questions about the penalties you face, sentencing guidelines, the court process, and how you can fight drug charges

At Ketchel Law, our number one goal is to get your charges dismissed, and if that is not possible, we will work tooth and nail to get your charges reduced to a minimum. If this is a first-time drug charge, you may be eligible to apply for programs to keep the charges off your record.

Our attorneys understand that addiction should not lead to jail, but to alternative programs. We do everything possible to help you retain your freedom and fight your charges, whether they are for simple possession or PWID drugs.

Don’t think that just because the police found drugs on you, they have “proof” you are guilty. 


Call Ketchel Law at 412-456-1221 for a Free Consultation

If you were charged with simple possession of heroin or possession with intent to deliver (PWID) including trafficking, transportation, distributing or selling, or face federal drug charges or state charges only, our Pittsburgh drug lawyers can help.

This webpage gives general sentencing guidelines and a basic understanding of heroin penalties in PA, but if you would like detailed information on your unique circumstances, call Attorney Justin Ketchel for a free legal consultation.


Penalties in PA for a Heroin Conviction and Heroin PWID

Many different factors will determine whether you are charged with simple possession of heroin (a misdemeanor) or PWID heroin (a felony).

The penalties you face depend on the charges brought against you and whether you can get those charges reduced. An experienced attorney can help you try to get your charges reduced, which could mean a drastic reduction in sentencing and punishment.

Penalties in PA for Possession of Smallest Amount of Heroin (first offense, less than 5 grams):

  • A misdemeanor on your criminal record;
  • Up to two years of prison, and;
  • A $5,000 fine. 

Other indirect penalties include driver’s license suspension, court costs and legal fees, and many other losses of basic freedoms, like owning a firearm or losing parental rights of your children.

In recent years, a heroin charge could also mean a Fentanyl charge, if heroin is laced with Fentanyl.

A criminal charge for Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID) is a felony and has much more serious consequences than simple possession. Possession with “Intent to Deliver” includes distributing, manufacturing or producing heroin, or selling or even giving away heroin. PWID is also known as drug trafficking.

A conviction for Heroin PWID or drug trafficking can seriously harm you and your family with forfeiture of property, driver’s license suspension, hefty fines, and prison sentencing being just some of the more extreme penalties.

Sentencing for PWID heroin is a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Other factors, like whether it is a first or second offense, other criminal activity, and distributing to a minor or within a school zone, are also determining sentencing factors.


Heroin is classified as a Schedule I drug under both federal sentencing guidelines and the “The Controlled Substances, Drugs, Device, and Cosmetic Act” of Pennsylvania.

Title 18, Chapter 75 of The Controlled Substances Act of PA states the following sentencing guidelines for possession of heroin:

  • 0 to 5.0 grams: A mandatory minimum of two years in prison and a fine of $5,000 or more for a first offense*.
  • At least 5.0 grams to 50 grams: A mandatory minimum of three years in prison and a fine of $15,000 or more for a first offense*. A mandatory minimum of five years in prison for a second offense.
  • 50 grams or greater: A mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a fine of $25,000 or more for a first offense*.

*The penalties increase for each if the defendant has been convicted of other drug trafficking offenses.

For a full list of penalties read our page on Drug Conviction Penalties in Pennsylvania.



strong drug attorney with experience will fight to get your PWID charges reduced to a Simple Possession charge or a Not Guilty verdict.

Addition penalties of a heroin conviction can include:


It is illegal to possess drug paraphernalia used for smoking or ingesting illegal drugs, even if you do not have any actual drugs in your possession.

Types of heroin paraphernalia can include any object used or intended for use of heroin. This includes not only objects for using heroin, but also for storing, manufacturing, testing, packaging, containing, or carrying heroin.

Types of objects commonly considered as heroin paraphernalia include plastic bags, scales, needles and syringes, pipes, bowls, straws or tubes, spoons, aluminum gum wrappers, balloons, soda cans, bottle tops, and other objects that are found to have heroin residue or were used for storing heroin.




Heroin Criminal Defense – How We Can Help.

Defending Your Rights — An arrest is not a conviction.

Possession of heroin charges do not necessarily mean you will be convicted. You are presumed innocent of all charges unless a judge or jury finds you guilty. Even so, Pennsylvania and U.S. prosecutors take heroin cases very seriously and will do everything they can to get a conviction.

An experienced drug lawyer with a track record of successfully winning drug cases can be pivotal in the outcome of your case. A skilled lawyer can build a strong defense with the ultimate goal of getting your charges dismissed or significantly reduced.

A number of defenses can be used to contest your charges. One such defense is a violation of your Constitutional Rights. In order to search the area where the heroin was located, the police need probable cause and must have reasonable suspicion to perform the search. There are several procedures they must follow and if the police violated your Constitutional rights, a motion to suppress the evidence can be brought. If the evidence is suppressed, the case will be dismissed.

In addition, in Pennsylvania, you can be charged with Actual Possession of Drugs (found with drugs on your person) or Constructive Possession of Drugs (aware of drugs nearby with access and an intent to use it). Defense strategies might include challenging whether the substance was actually heroin or challenging the evidence of intent to use or deliver/distribute heroin.

There are also a number of drug diversion and probationary programs in Allegheny County that are available to first-time offenders such as Probation Without Verdict (PWOV), which will result in a full dismissal of charges. Contact Attorney Ketchel for a free consultation to find out if you are eligible or could qualify.

An aggressive attorney will look at every angle and fully investigate your case, examining witnesses and identifying problems with police procedures. An experienced attorney knows how to negotiate a reduction of charges in order to lessen sentencing.

At Ketchel Law, our skilled attorneys and legal team will thoroughly investigate your case and fight your heroin charges. We will build a strong defense and fight for your criminal record to be expunged or have your sentencing significantly lowered.


At Ketchel Law, our number one goal is to have your case dismissed and charges withdrawn. If that is not possible, there are numerous ways of attempting a reduction in sentencing such as probation vs. jail.

Talk to an experienced attorney for a free consultation about whether you may be eligible to have your record expunged and how best to fight your charges.

A drug charge does not have to mean a drug conviction.


If you or a loved one is seeking treatment options for heroin addiction, see the following list of resources in Allegheny County:

Learn More About Drug Charges in Pennsylvania: