Navigating the Legal Process: What Happens After an Arrest in Pennsylvania?

An arrest can leave people feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about their rights and future. Legal troubles can hang like a cloud over defendants and their families. Knowing what to expect next in the process can help in being better prepared.

In Pennsylvania, the process that unfolds after an arrest involves various steps, each designed to uphold the rights of the accused. Understanding the distinction between detainment and arrest, knowing your rights post-arrest, and being aware of the options regarding phone calls and bail are crucial aspects of this process.

Detainment vs. Arrest

Detainment and arrest are two distinct legal concepts with different implications. Detainment, or being held in custody, may occur when law enforcement restrains an individual’s freedom of movement for investigative purposes. During detainment, police may ask questions, check identification, and conduct searches of someone they suspect is guilty of a crime, but they may never charge the suspect with a crime.

Pennsylvania law doesn’t put a time limit on how long a suspect can be detained. It may be for only 5 minutes in the back of a squad car, or it may be overnight in jail. Typically, it is no longer than 48 hours, but it could be longer on weekends or holidays. Technically, if you have ever been pulled over for speeding, you were detained by police while they checked your registration and issued a ticket, etc. Although detainment doesn’t mean you will be arrested, it can and often does result in arrest.

Arrest, on the other hand, involves the formal deprivation of an individual’s liberty based on probable cause that they have committed a crime. Once arrested, the individual is taken into custody and charges are filed.

Your Rights After an Arrest in Pennsylvania

If you are arrested, you have certain rights under Pennsylvania law. These rights include:

  1. The Right to Remain Silent: The famous Miranda rights ensure that individuals are informed of their right to remain silent during police questioning. Anything said can be used against the individual in court, so it is advisable to exercise this right until legal counsel is present.
  2. The Right to an Attorney: Every individual has the right to an attorney, and if they cannot afford one, the court will appoint one. Having legal representation is crucial for navigating the complexities of the legal system.
  3. The Right to Be Informed of Charges: Following an arrest, the individual must be informed of the charges against them. This ensures transparency and allows the accused to understand the nature of the allegations.

Phone Call Privileges After an Arrest:

Contrary to popular belief (and many TV shows), there is no specific constitutional right to a phone call after an arrest. However, in general, the magistrate or police officers generally permit individuals to make a reasonable number of phone calls and may even let the arrested individual retrieve their cell phone for contact information.

After a preliminary arraignment, however, a defendant does have a right to contact friends, family, or an attorney.

The PA Code of Law (Rule 540) states:

 (H)  After the preliminary arraignment, if the defendant is detained, the defendant shall be given an immediate and reasonable opportunity to post bail, secure counsel, and notify others of the arrest. Thereafter, if the defendant does not post bail, he or she shall be committed to jail as provided by law.

Bail and Bond – Getting Out of Jail

Once arrested, an individual may be eligible for release on bail or bond, allowing them to await trial outside of custody. Bail is a financial guarantee that the accused will appear in court as required. If the suspect pays the bail or uses the services of a bail/bond company, they do not go to jail. If the individual attends all court appearances, the bail amount is refunded. If the defendant does not attend the court appearance, the court keeps the money and issues a warrant for arrest.

In Pennsylvania, the bail determination process considers factors such as the severity of the charges, the defendant’s criminal history, ties to the community, and flight risk. The court may set bail at a specific amount or release the individual on recognizance, which means they are released without having to pay bail but must adhere to certain conditions.

Additionally, Pennsylvania law allows for bail bonds, where a third-party bondsman posts the bail amount on behalf of the accused for a fee. This option is often used when the defendant is unable to pay the full bail amount themselves.

What You Need to Do After Being Arrested in Pennsylvania

Facing an arrest in Pennsylvania triggers a legal process with significant implications for the accused, like a criminal record, losing your driver’s license, jail or prison time, fines, and other potential losses like your job, custody rights, and many other freedoms.

Individuals must exercise their rights wisely by seeking legal representation promptly. The experienced attorneys at Ketchel Law can guide you through the preliminary hearing, court process, bail and bond process, and the way through to the trial if the case goes that far.

We can help, whether you were charged with DUI, drugs, theft, assault, or another criminal offense.

Contact Ketchel Law today if you have been charged with a crime or have possible pending charges in Pennsylvania

Free Consultations: 412-456-1221 

Our #1 Goal? Your Case Dismissed.

Have a question about your DUI case or upcoming preliminary hearing in Pennsylvania? Call our team of top Pittsburgh DUI lawyers for a free consultation. Learn more about the DUI Court process in Pennsylvania

Call Ketchel Law at 412-456-1221. We take your case seriously and are committed to providing quality legal advice.

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Rules Skill Games Are Legal

Will Ruling End Debate Over Skill Games in Pennsylvania?

In a 7-0 decision on November 30, 2023, the court upheld a Dauphin County judge’s finding earlier this year that the skill games are not slot machines or illegal gambling devices, but that the devices developed by Pace-O-Matic are actually “skill games”, meaning they require a level of skill to win and do not rely on chance alone.

Pennsylvania Court Ruling Skill GamesCommonly branded in Pennsylvania as “Pennsylvania Skill”, the machines are popular inside many sports bars, gas stations, and convenience stores. The debate over their legality has been ongoing for nearly seven years.

Proponents say this is a victory for small businesses, but critics say it opens the door for unregulated gambling.

“This is a major victory for Pennsylvania Skill, but it’s equally a victory for our operators and the thousands of small businesses, volunteer fire companies, and fraternal clubs who have come to depend on the revenue our games provide,” President and CEO of Pace-O-Matic Paul Goldean said in a statement “This is also a win for many players across the commonwealth who enjoy skill games as a popular entertainment option. Our games have always been legal, and this ruling proves that once and for all.”

Pennsylvania originally ruled that skill wasn’t needed for the games. But this newer ruling states the previous ruling was found to be “factually untrue.”

Will the Debate Head to the PA Supreme Court?

The Commonwealth Court ruled on this decision after Pennsylvania State Police and the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement seized video game terminals and money from a sports bar in Dauphin County earlier this year.

Susan Affronti, one of the attorneys prosecuting the case for Attorney General Michelle Henry, said Henry does intend to seek a review of the Commonwealth Court’s decision in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The American Gaming Association says they are disappointed by the ruling: “We continue to hold out hope that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will ultimately get it right by recognizing that “skill” games are, in fact, gambling devices”.

Read the full Skill Game ruling on Nov 30, 2023, by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. 


Governor Shapiro Calls for End of Death Penalty in Pennsylvania

The death penalty in Pennsylvania still exists, but no one has been executed in nearly 24 years.

In an announcement at Mosaic Community Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro called on the PA General Assembly to abolish the death penalty. He added he would not issue any execution warrants, extending the moratorium on the death penalty by his predecessor.

Governor Shapiro reiterated that the death penalty, as it currently stands in Pennsylvania, is only issued in guilty cases of first-degree murder, where there are also aggravating factors at the time of the crime. And even then, if someone is issued the death penalty, there are many appeals that can take years to process, all at the expense of taxpayers.

In the United States, 37 states have either abolished the death penalty completely or have not carried out executions in the last ten years. In 2022, there were fewer than 30 executions nationwide and fewer than 50 new death sentences, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

There is still a death penalty in Pennsylvania, but no one has been executed since 1999. That was nearly 24 years ago when Gary Heidnik was executed by lethal injection.

Attorney Shapiro mentioned the heinous killings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill (Pittsburgh, PA) and how the people he spoke with at the synagogue did not wish for the murderer to be sentenced to death, but rather pay the price by a lifelong prison sentence. “I listened to the members of the Tree of Life community and was blown away by their courage and their fortitude,” said Shapiro.

You can read the entirety of the press release detailing the announcement from Governor Shapiro’s office on their website.



Can You Be Charged with DUI Without Driving?

Pennsylvania Court Further Defines ‘Operation’ of Vehicle in DUI Cases

asleep at wheel - dui in pennsylvania - dui lawsIn Bold vs. Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Commonwealth Court clarified the precedent for the term ‘operates’, which is used in the Implied Consent Law under Section 1547(b)(1)(ii) of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, 75 for license suspension cases.

This definition expands the meaning to include that being in the driver’s seat of a running vehicle while intoxicated is reasonable cause for police to request chemical testing.

All judges of the appellate court heard the case and the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court panel ruled against Thomas Bold, despite his vehicle being stationary at the time of the arrest and with no indication Bold had been driving the vehicle.

A dissenting opinion was filed by Judge Leavitt.

PennDOT suspended Bold’s license for 18 months following his arrest when he failed to submit to a chemical test. He had previously been convicted of DUI in 2007.

According to the case filed on November 21, 2022:

Officer Gelnett testified that he was on patrol at the Capital City Mall on January 25, 2020, at 6:14 p.m., when he was dispatched to check on “a vehicle in the parking lot that was running with a gentleman passed out behind the wheel.”

He located the vehicle, which was unlocked and running, with the headlights on. He opened the driver’s side door and shut off the engine. Officer Gelnett then woke Licensee, who was in the driver’s seat, smelled of alcohol, and appeared “obviously intoxicated.”

Officer Gelnett stated that the vehicle “was legally parked in a parking space” near the mall’s liquor store and a Primanti Brothers bar and restaurant. Licensee told Officer Gelnett that he had been in Primanti Brothers watching a game, “and [that] he just [went] out to his truck and was sleeping in his truck [until] he thought he was able to drive home.”

Licensee refused to submit to a preliminary breath test and insisted that he was not driving. Officer Gelnett responded that Licensee was sitting behind the wheel of a running vehicle and, thus, was in actual physical control of the vehicle.

Do you have a question concerning a DUI case? Call our team of Pittsburgh DUI lawyers for a free consultation.

Call Ketchel Law at 412-456-1221. We take your case seriously and are committed to providing quality legal advice. 

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DUI Checkpoints in Pittsburgh

DUI CheckPoints – Pittsburgh, PA

Information and What You Should Know if You Are Stopped at a DUI Checkpoint

pittsburgh dui checkpointsThe holidays are here again – time for people to get together, celebrate, and drink their care away! It’s the time for merriment, although holidays can also be stressful.

One added stressor is that festivities could turn into a nightmare if you are pulled over for DUI, or worse, in an accident with a drunk driver. There are few greater buzz kills than a DUI arrest or car accident with injuries.

Most people don’t have to worry if they do not plan to drink and drive. But even a couple of beers can be the cause of a DUI charge, especially if you happen to pass through a DUI checkpoint while coming back from the company holiday party, restaurant, or a family gathering.

A DUI checkpoint is a roadblock that allows police to systematically pull over cars to deter driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

DUI checkpoints are perfectly legal and constitutional in Pennsylvania and if a person is charged with DUI from being pulled over at a DUI checkpoint, it can be very difficult (although not impossible) to prove innocence or fight the charges.

Where are DUI Checkpoints in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County?

In order for a DUI Checkpoint to be constitutional in Pennsylvania, the police are required by law to give adequate warning of a checkpoint. This could mean putting up signs and advertising in the media or newspaper.

Once the location has been advertised, the police cannot move the location without again giving the public notice.

A few common places for a DUI checkpoint in Allegheny County include: near the South Side or the Strip District, off the exit for the Sewickley bridge, or near Etna on Route 8.

There are also mapping apps, like Waze and Relaid, where users can pin DUI checkpoints and label them, so you can also see possible roadblocks and DUI checkpoints, as well as traffic updates.

Can I Turn Around if I See a DUI Checkpoint Ahead?

If you see signs for a DUI ahead, you do have the option to turn off to another street before you reach it and take a different route. Purposely avoiding a DUI checkpoint is not a reason to pull you over. However, making a U-turn in the middle of the street could be a traffic violation, so be wary.

What Typically Happens at a DUI Checkpoint? 

Unlike being pulled over on suspicion of DUI – like swerving, speeding, or recklessness – the police do not need reasonable suspicion to pull someone over at a DUI checkpoint.

That said, they do not pull over cars at random either – they have strict guidelines to follow, such as stopping every fifth vehicle. These rules are decided upon ahead of time and cannot be changed during the course of the checkpoint. This is to enforce that they cannot stop on a whim by race, religion, sex, vehicle type, or if they simply don’t like the way someone looks.

Of the vehicles they do pull over, they are free to question the drivers or ask them to take a sobriety test as they enter through the roadblock.

The stops are supposed to be minimal and non-invasive. The police do not have a right to a physical search without probable cause.

They may start by asking simple questions such as where you were tonight, where you are headed now and if you had anything to drink. Any of your answers could be used in court as probable cause.

Law enforcement officers look for common behavioral signs of impairment at a DUI Checkpoint, such as:

  • The smell of alcohol;
  • A rosy-colored or flushed face;
  • Eyes that may be bloodshot, watery, or too relaxed;
  • Slurred speech;
  • Aggressive or defensive behavior;
  • Fatigue or slowness;
  • Clumsiness;
  • Dilated pupils, and;
  • Excessive sweating.

If after noticing any of these types of behaviors, the police believe you may be under the influence, they could ask you to perform a field sobriety test or request a breathalyzer.

You are not required by law to comply with the field sobriety test or the breathalyzer that an officer may have on hand before an arrest.

If you refuse the breathalyzer, however, this may give them probable cause to arrest you, take you to the police station, and require a blood or breath test that is used as evidence. This test can determine your blood alcohol level and whether you are under the influence of drugs. Of course, you do not have to comply with this test either, but if you don’t, it is an automatic license suspension, and, if convicted, you face the most severe penalties of DUI under the highest tier, including a $5,000 fine and jail time.

Can I Get Charged with Drugs at a DUI Checkpoint? 


The DUI stop is meant to be brief and non-invasive, but if police officers find probable cause that you may be under the influence of drugs, they may conduct a physical search. They may also place you under arrest and request you take a blood test.

If officers can smell marijuana or weed in your vehicle, they are not permitted to conduct a search from the smell of marijuana alone. However, if other suspected behavior is evident to police officers, they may still legally conduct a search when they also smell marijuana.

Remember, even if you are a medical marijuana card holder in Pennsylvania, it is still illegal for you to drive under the influence of marijuana. And if you are asked to take a blood test, your results could show you have cannabis in your system, even if you were not smoking at the time of driving. This is a contradiction, but as it currently stands, you could be charged with DUI drugs if you are found to have marijuana in your system, even trace amounts.

Best ways to avoid a DUI arrest?

Don’t drink and drive! Don’t do drugs and drive either! An Uber ride costs a lot less than a DUI conviction.

If you do happen to do drugs, make sure you get free fentanyl test strips – the test strips are now legal in Pennsylvania to help combat unintended deaths by overdose.

🎄🕎The attorneys at Ketchel Law hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. Please use a ride share, cab, or designated driver when enjoying the festivities! 🎄🕎

Fentanyl Test Strips Now Legal in Pennsylvania

Every day more people are becoming addicted to Fentanyl and more drug dealers are lacing pills and other drugs with Fentanyl (often without the user’s knowledge). These drugs could include illegal prescription medicine like Oxycontin or other drugs like heroin and cocaine. This has left dealers and drug users wondering if their product is safe or laced with Fentanyl. Test strips give them a quick answer.

fentanyl testing stripsIn large cities like New York, bars, dance clubs, and restaurants offer Fentanyl testing strips to their patrons.

But several states have outlawed the test strips, seeing them as condoning illegal drugs or as a way to build a criminal case against drug dealers. But other states and jurisdictions see them as a way to save lives.

Pennsylvania now falls into the latter category, making test strips legal, as of November 3, 2022, when Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 1393 which legalizes Fentanyl test strips. 

The bill amends the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act of 1972 to no longer define fentanyl test strips as drug paraphernalia.

It is now legal in Pennsylvania to possess Fentanyl strips. Before this law was signed into law, two of the biggest cities with the biggest drug crime problems had already decriminalized the testing strips: Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

On August 2, 2021, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed Executive Order 4-21 that made it the City’s policy to not charge people for possessing or distributing fentanyl strips. On August 31, 2021, then-Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto also signed an executive order decriminalizing Fentanyl test strips.

The Pennsylvania House bill to decriminalize Fentanyl test strips now allows people to test without the risk of being charged with drug paraphernalia.

Fentanyl overdoses are now the top cause of death among U.S. persons aged 18-45 – surpassing suicide, car accidents and COVID, according to an analysis of federal data by Families Against Fentanyl.

If you or someone you knows is in need of Fentanyl test strips in Pittsburgh, you can get them for free from Prevention Point Pittsburgh.

Fentanyl possession is a serious crime that could result in a minimum of two years in prison.

If you have been charged with Fentanyl possession or any other drug charge, please call our Pittsburgh Drug Attorneys today for a free consultation.

Learn more about Drug Laws in Pennsylvania



We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.

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Pennsylvania Marijuana Pardon Project – Deadline Sept 30

Do you have a criminal record in Pennsylvania for a minor marijuana offense?

If you are one of thousands of people who were charged and convicted of simple marijuana charges in Pennsylvania – a drug that in many states is perfectly legal – you now have the chance to get those criminal charges off your permanent record.

Marijuana Pardon Project in Pennsylvania

There is no charge for the online application. But hurry – the deadline to apply for the Marijuana Pardon Project is September 30, 2022. 

Having a criminal record can permanently affect your chances of gaining employment, finding housing, getting into college and getting financing for automobiles and homes. If you want a second chance, the time is now. 


According to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s website, if you had one or both of these convictions in Pennsylvania, you are eligible to apply:

In addition:

  • The conviction must have taken place in Pennsylvania;
  • There is no statute of limitations for the conviction – it doesn’t matter how long ago the offense occurred;
  • This is only for first-time marijuana offenders. People with additional convictions on their record are not eligible. 

If you are wondering how to apply for the program, get a free consultation from the experienced Pennsylvania Marijuana Attorneys at Ketchel Law. We can help you determine eligibility and with the application process. You can also learn more and apply online at

Contact Ketchel Law at 412-456-1221 for a free consultation about your marijuana case. 

The Board of Pardons is accepting applications from September 1 to September 30, 2022.

If you are not eligible for this program there may be other options, such as applying for clemency or other legal actions. Learn more about overturning marijuana convictions in Pennsylvania.

If you are currently facing marijuana charges or other controlled substance abuse charges, contact our Pittsburgh Drug Lawyers today for a free consultation about your case. We are here to help fight your case with our number one goal being a full case dismissal.

Call Ketchel Law at 412-456-1221. We take your case seriously and are committed to providing quality legal advice.

Learn more about Marijuana Laws in Pennsylvania



We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.

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Can You Go To Jail at a Preliminary Hearing?

What Happens at a Preliminary Hearing in Pennsylvania?

If you or a loved one were charged with a crime recently and are scheduled for a preliminary hearing, you may be wondering what could happen at the hearing.

preliminary hearing jailtime

A preliminary hearing is not a trial, but rather a first step in a case used to determine if there is enough evidence against the defendant to move forward with the case. It also gives a first chance for the accused to defend themselves and exercise their rights. If there is not sufficient evidence, the charges could be dismissed at the hearing. 

If there is sufficient evidence to move the case forward, it will move from the Magistrate to the Court of Common Pleas for trial. This gives the defendant time to further prepare their defense. 

Could I go to Jail at a Preliminary Hearing?

While it is unlikely a person would go to jail at a preliminary hearing, they could be taken into custody at the preliminary hearing if bail is increased or revoked. If bail is increased, the defendant would remain in jail until the amount is paid. 

A defendant will not be found guilty or sentenced at the preliminary hearing; the hearing is only to determine whether to move the case forward or not. The “or not” is very important, because it is possible that the charges could be dismissed altogether.

The Preliminary Hearing is Very Important

If you were charged with a crime, the preliminary hearing gives you a first chance to make a defense and tell your side of the story. The preliminary hearing is crucial to your defense. Make sure you have an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you at the preliminary hearing who already understands your situation and explains beforehand what you can expect. An aggressive defense attorney with a thorough understanding of the law and the prosecutors is going to fight for your case to be dismissed and argue evidence to proceed is lacking.

Witnesses may be presented and testimony heard, but briefly, and only for the purpose of determining if there is enough evidence to move forward with your case, not to make a verdict. 

Your attorney will be able to cross-examine any witnesses and/or argue that the evidence is not sufficient. Your attorney can also challenge evidence, requesting that it be thrown out. Your attorney may also request that your case be dismissed, if they feel the prosecution has not gathered enough evidence.

Unlike a full trial, the prosecution does not need evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a preliminary hearing. They need only have “prima facie”, which means they need proof it is more likely than not that you committed the crime in question.

Read more about Preliminary Hearings in Pennsylvania.

Are you or a loved one facing criminal charges?

If you have been charged with a crime in Pittsburgh or Southwest Pennsylvania, Ketchel Law can provide a free legal consultation. Our criminal attorneys are top-rated and located in downtown Pittsburgh. We have been successfully representing clients for nearly a decade and are here to help you fight your charges and win your case.

Call Ketchel Law at 412-456-1221. We take your case seriously and are committed to providing quality legal advice.

Learn More about Defending Your Rights in Pennsylvania:




Recent PA Court Ruling on Medical Marijuana: A Schedule I Drug in DUI Cases

Court Rules You Can be Charged and Convicted of DUI of Drugs for using Medical Marijuana

medicinal marijuana / cannibisMany medical marijuana users in Pennsylvania are in shock over the recent ruling in early May 2022 that says the legal medicine they have been prescribed could mean they are at risk for being charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Pennsylvania.

If a person is charged with DUI drugs in PA and have no other controlled substance or alcohol in their blood, they could still face the maximum penalties as a person with the highest rate of blood alcohol content (BAC) level. Penalties include a one year license suspension, up to six months in jail and a heavy fine (first offense).

Many people say they are not impaired at the time of their arrest. However, trace amounts of marijuana and metabolites can stay in the blood stream for days after use, long after a person is considered “impaired” or “high”.

Even though Schedule I drugs are defined by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”, medical marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, as is heroin, meth and ecstasy.

The ruling made by the Pennsylvania Superior Court was in rejection to an appeal of a DUI case, in which the defendant was charged with DUI after initially being pulled over for illegally speeding.

In the ruling (Commonwealth v. Dabney)  May 5 ruling, Judge D. Kunselman wrote a 17 page opinion which says “medical marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance,” and that “no conflict exists between the Medical Marijuana Act and the Vehicle Code.”

She also added that the Medical Marijuana Act “did not remove marijuana from the list of Schedule I controlled substances.”

The defendant, Dabney, argued that marijuana ingested, pursuant to the Medical Marijuana Act, 35 P.S. §§ 10231.101, is not a controlled substance within the meaning of the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, and therefore he could not be prosecuted for DUI under 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3802(d)(1) based on medical marijuana in his blood.

Read the full ruling here. Read about the case in the York Daily Record.

This ruling holds precedence and will have an effect on other similar DUI cases involving medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. There are over 400,000 legal registered users of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.

Is there anything that can be done if you are charged with DUI of Medical Marijuana in PA?

First, anyone charged with a crime has the right to fight against the charges – DUI cases are fought and won every day in court. Having an experienced attorney who has successfully taken on and won hundreds of DUI cases can help.

Second, you could be eligible to apply for a pardon. In late 2020, lawmakers in the Pennsylvania House voted to amend the DUI law to decriminalize trace amounts of marijuana for legal medical marijuana users. However, the Pennsylvania State Senate has yet to take measures to vote on it and move it to the Governor’s desk. Until then, there is a possibility of being charged with DUI.

However, the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons recently established an expedited review program for non-violent marijuana offenders in Pennsylvania. Under this program, people who are legally allowed to use medicinal marijuana and who have been charged with DUI, are eligible to apply for a pardon.

An Arrest is Not a Conviction

If you were charged with DUI of marijuana in Pennsylvania or are facing marijuana charges or other drug charges, contact our experienced Pittsburgh DUI and Drug Lawyers for a free consultation. Our attorneys can either help you apply for a pardon or fight the charges, depending on your circumstances.

If the cops catch you, call Ketchel



Call 412-456-1221 for a free consultation

If you have been charged with a crime in Pennsylvania, contact Ketchel Law today.

Our number one goal is to have your charges dismissed and your record clean.

Learn more about Marijuana Laws in Pennsylvania



We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.

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What are the Penalties for Drug Charges in Pennsylvania?

drug penalties pennsylvaniaLet’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:

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.



We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.

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