Drug Charges in PA
When facing drug charges in Pennsylvania, the accused has certain legal rights under the criminal code that law enforcement and prosecution cannot deny. Primary among these is the right to an attorney throughout all stages of criminal processing, including at the arrest and booking stage, charging stage, and litigation stage.
Remember that you have the right to:
- Remain silent. Use it! Be respectful and tell the officer “I want to speak to an attorney.”
- Have your Miranda Rights read before you are arrested and detained for questioning.
- Ask (politely) to see a search warrant in specific situations.
- Speak to your attorney before questioning; and to have your attorney present for all interrogations.
Drug Crimes Penalties and Enhancements
Drug crimes penalties are determined using a complex scoring system under the PA Crimes Code. Variables for sentencing determination include the defendant’s criminal history and prior convictions, the type of drug, and the specifics of activities involved in the accusation.
For a felony 1 (F1) conviction on a drug trafficking or distribution offense, the defendant will face up to 20 years in prison.
If you are charged with possession of marijuana, the violation may be classed as a misdemeanor 3 (M3) and if convicted, you will face up to 1 year in prison. You will also lose your driver’s license for a period of six (6) months.
Drug charges are frequently enhanced with other criminal charges brought by the prosecution. These enhancements amount to additional crimes that will be charged all at once in the DA’s effort to maximize incarceration time if the Commonwealth gets a conviction in the drug case.
The Criminal Gang Enhancement, Deadly Weapon Enhancement, and Youth/School Enhancement are serious accusations that will result in significantly more prison time if you are convicted.
PA Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Ruled Unconstitutional
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has recently ruled that the 2 year mandatory minimum sentence for dealing drugs in a school zone is unconstitutional. As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, this mandatory minimum sentencing scheme will no longer hold as it applies to dealing drugs in a school zone. Other mandatory minimum sentences still exist for some crimes.
The Commonwealth can recommend non-mandatory enhanced sentences at any time prior to actual sentencing (see above.) A well-qualified local criminal defense lawyer may succeed in moving that such enhancements be precluded from the court’s consideration.
Furthermore, a prosecutor may still use mandatory minimums to coerce the accused to plead guilty or to cooperate in other investigations. Most defendants are not aware that the prosecutor has the ability to waive any mandatory minimum sentences that may apply in your case. For a complete assessment of your case and rights, contact our law offices today.
The legal defense community has worked hard toward obtaining this Supreme Court ruling against mandatory minimums. At Tibbott & Richardson, we will continue to fight hard in order to protect all of our clients’ rights and freedoms.
“…I trusted Beth and her partner Dana Richardson to take care of my federal criminal issue and they did so with results that exceeded my expectations…The federal prosecutor lobbied heavily to have me detained pending trial and although it was a long shot, they were successful in securing my bond and I was out pending trial.” —Criminal defense client review.
How Strong Is My Case?
Attorneys Beth Tibbott and Dana Richardson have been providing valuable drug defense services to clients in both Cambria County and Allegheny County. Clients receive the best outcomes possible because Tibbott & Richardson use all defenses and strategies available at state and federal levels.
Each case is unique and every situation varies widely. Attorneys Beth Tibbott and Dana Richardson will evaluate your case and be open and upfront with you about what you can expect. We will look into all aspects of your situation to provide you with all of your best options.
Pennsylvania drug laws involve many different offenses with stiff penalties possible even when drug paraphernalia and small amounts of illegal drugs are found. If you are caught in possession, or charged with intent to deliver, you need to take all charges seriously and defend against them with the best legal representation you can afford.
The only way to know what you are truly facing is by consulting with a qualified drug crime attorney in Pennsylvania. Call Tibbott & Richardson today to receive a valuable consultation on your case for free.