Let’s face the facts: a lot of people use drugs. Nearly 12% of people over 12 years of age used drugs or misused prescription drugs in the United States in the last year, according to the CDC.
More than a million people are arrested for drug possession in the United States every year, and Pennsylvania is no exception to a high amount of drug use and offenses.
While the majority of people being charged with drug crimes are buying drugs and have addiction problems, another portion is involved with the selling, transporting, manufacturing and distribution of illegal drugs. These are two very different crimes and the penalties usually fall into two categories, depending on the amount of drugs involved in the crime: Simple drug possession and PWID or Possession with Intent to Deliver or Distribute. The latter comes with much higher penalties, but both can send you to prison.
Illegal drugs can mean marijuana, cocaine, illegal steroids, ecstasy, synthetic drugs, methamphetamine, opioids like oxycodone and heroin, as well as illegal prescription drugs like Ambien, Xanax, and valium.
In the case with marijuana, because it is legal in Pennsylvania for medical purposes and is being decriminalized in some cities in Pennsylvania, often the fines and penalties can be less severe than a regular simple drug possession charge.
For Simple Possession, a defendant faces the following penalties:
- First Offense of Drug Possession: Misdemeanor, up to one year in jail, and a maximum fine of $5000.
- Subsequent Offense: Misdemeanor, up to three years in jail, and a maximum fine of $25,000.
- Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana: Misdemeanor, up to 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500.
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia: Misdemeanor, up to one year in jail, and maximum fine of $2,500.
Other indirect penalties could include driver’s license suspension, being prohibited from owning a firearm, loss of employment, difficulty getting car insurance and/or high insurance premiums, mandatory treatment programs, loss of parental rights and inability to obtain student loans.
For PWID, a first offense for Schedule I or II drugs, the penalty is:
- Two years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000 (2-10 grams)
- Three years in prison and a maximum fine of $15,000 (11-99 grams)
- Five years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000 (100 or more grams)
Read more information about drug penalties in Pennsylvania.
If you have been charged with a drug crime in Pennsylvania, call Attorney Ketchel for a free legal consultation. It is important to remember that being charged with a crime does not necessarily mean you will be convicted or face full charges. An attorney can help you understand your options and fight for the best possible outcome for you and your family.
Our number one goal is to have your charges dismissed and your record clean.
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