Our Drug Offense Lawyers Focus on Results

There's no one-size-fits-all-all for drug charges and associated penalties. They vary radically depending on the type of drug and amount. Criminal records also play a role, along with possession vs. the intent to distribute. Having the best drug offense lawyer to represent you is essential.

Our law firm represents clients in Montgomery County, Bucks County, Philadelphia County and throughout Eastern PA. Our lawyers are some of the best, with 11 gaining recognition as Best Lawyers in America©. Call our firm when you need a criminal defense lawyer to craft a legal defense.

We have law offices in Norristown and Doylestown, PA.

Types of Drug-Related Crimes

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is the basis for federal laws regulating and controlling substances. It primarily focuses on three areas: possession, trafficking, and manufacturing. It may be difficult to believe, but as of September 9, 2023, more than 44% of prisoners in Federal prisons are there owing to drug offenses (Federal Bureau of Prisons).

The CSA also classifies drugs into five schedules based on their potential for abuse and safety level. For example, Schedule I drugs include heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), and cannabis. They have no accepted medical use with a high potential for abuse. Of course, cannabis is controversial based on state.

Conversely, Schedule III drugs include Tylenol with codeine, anabolic steroids, testosterone, and ketamine. Though medically accepted, abuse can lead to moderate to low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

Possession of Scheduled Drugs

If you possess illegal drugs, you face charges that don't require proof of ownership. So, even with someone else's drugs, you face possession charges. Note that Pennsylvania is a zero-tolerance state for marijuana possession. You face charges even with a first offense and small amounts. A drug offense lawyer can offer insights on the best defense.

Charges may be as minor as simple possession. However, they can escalate quickly based on the type of drug or weight. That's true even for prescription drugs unless the prescription is for you.

Drug Dealing and Trafficking

Drug dealing or "trafficking" laws make selling, trading, or exchanging scheduled drugs illegal.

Generally, your charges bump to a felony with drug trafficking. And again, it becomes more serious based on quantity and whether someone dies from the trafficked drugs. Federal penalties come into play with the use of firearms.

You face charges if you sell drugs to one person or a bigger group. Trafficking typically involves prison time unless you receive probation. Selling 100 grams of heroin can land a minimum five-year sentence (Drug Enforcement Agency). An experienced drug offense lawyer can offer support to possibly eliminate or reduce your sentence.

Manufacturing Drugs

Drug manufacturing involves any step of the production process of an illegal drug. The most common version of this crime is the cultivation of marijuana, which might be entirely legal under state law. However, Pennsylvania doesn't allow for the manufacture of any illegal substance unless you filed for and received a permit.

Drug manufacturing carries severe penalties, typically involving lengthy prison terms.

Regardless of the activity, you'll need an experienced drug charge lawyer to craft a defense.

Penalties for Drug Offenses

As mentioned, the severity of penalties for drug offenses typically depends on:

  • The type and the amount of drugs
  • The intention behind the crime (e.g., personal use vs. distribution)
  • Prior convictions or history of drug offenses

Here are some examples of penalties. With these types of stakes on the line, you'll see why having a criminal defense attorney is imperative.

Drug Possession

Possession of a controlled substance typically results in a misdemeanor charge. If convicted, you now own a criminal record that's difficult to erase.

  • First Offense: Misdemeanor offense with up to one year in jail and a $5,000 maximum fine
  • Subsequent Offenses: Misdemeanor offense with up to three years in jail and a $25,000 maximum fine.

Marijuana Possession

  • 30 Grams or Less: Misdemeanor with up to 30 days in jail and a $500 maximum fine
  • 30 Grams or More: Misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and $5,000 maximum fines. You also lose your driver's license for six months.

With 30 grams or more of marijuana, you also run the risk of charges for possession with intent to distribute. With that more severe charge, you should discuss your case with a drug offense lawyer.

Marijuana Trafficking

Penalties for marijuana trafficking in Pennsylvania cover a spectrum depending on the weight. For example, you face a one-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine for two to ten pounds of the substance. The penalty doubles with a prior trafficking conviction.

If that weight increases to at least 50 pounds, the penalties jump to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Drug Trafficking

Drug laws focus on policing Schedule I and II drugs because they have significant safety and abuse concerns. Not surprisingly, trafficking those drugs generates steep penalties. It's important to talk with a drug offense lawyer immediately.

Schedule I and II drugs include marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, PCP, amphetamines, meth, and MDMA.

Two to Ten Grams of Schedule I and II Drugs

  • First Offense: Two years in prison and a $5,000 maximum fine
  • Subsequent Offenses: Three years in prison and a $10,000 maximum fine

Ten to 100 Grams of Schedule I and II drugs

  • First Offense: Three years in prison and a $15,000 maximum fine
  • Subsequent Offenses: Five years in prison and a $30,000 maximum fine

100 Grams of Drugs or More of Schedule I and II drugs

  • First Offense: Five years in prison and a $25,000 maximum fine
  • Subsequent Offenses: Seven years in prison and a $50,000 maximum fine

It's worth noting that you face a minimum two-year sentence if you attempt to distribute drugs in a school zone.

Possible Defenses by a Drug Offense Lawyer

Drug charges are complex and potentially severe, even for a first-time offense. It's not something you want to tackle without experienced support from a criminal defense lawyer. Make sure your lawyer is familiar with state and federal drug laws.

A drug offense lawyer can provide counsel on the best defense strategy. For instance, there are several potential defenses in drug-related cases:

  • The drugs belonged to someone else
  • Illegal search and seizure
  • Abuse of power
  • Entrapment
  • Lack of intent to distribute
  • Lack of evidence
  • Chain of custody
  • Marijuana exceptions
  • Mistaken identity
  • Crime lab analysis

If convicted, you can still benefit from an experienced drug offense lawyer. The best lawyers know how to negotiate to reduce a sentence effectively. Sometimes, they can even get you parole and avoid prison.

Montgomery County Drug Offense Lawyer

If you face drug charges for any reason, don't wait -- call our law firm immediately. We have offices in Norristown and Doylestown, PA, with experienced criminal defense lawyers. They'll focus on getting you the desired results to potentially reduce or even eliminate your concerns.

Drug Offenses Attorneys

John S. Han

John Han | Criminal Defense lawyer | Greater Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Criminal defense attorney John S. Han represents clients facing investigation and prosecution by both State and Federal Law Enforcement authorities for felony criminal violations.

Michael A. Luongo

Michael A. Luongo business litigation attorney in High Swartz's doylestown law office

Bucks county Business Litigation attorney Michael A. Luongo also practices personal injury, criminal defense, and in our PA municipal practice.

Shari R. Gelfont Williams

shari gelfont williams at high swartz llp doylestown law office

Bucks County Attorney with 25+ years' experience in litigation with a focus on family law, estate planning, and business disputes.

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