What to Expect if You Are Arrested on Drug Charges in Bucks County
No matter what type or quantity of substance is involved, drug charges are treated as very serious criminal matters in the state of Pennsylvania. Allegations of personal use, distribution, or other offenses can immediately result in permanent damage to your professional reputation, while the court-imposed penalties for a conviction can include years in prison and massive fines in the tens of thousands.
You will also receive a criminal record, which can follow you around for years after your release from prison. The vast majority of employers conduct background checks, and a former narcotics conviction can interfere with your ability to keep steady employment or obtain certain work certifications. Furthermore, your driver’s license may be suspended, which can make commuting and other travel virtually impossible.
The bottom line is that if you are facing drug allegations, you risk losing your career, your financial stability, and even your freedom itself. You need help from an experienced lawyer who can walk you through the court proceedings and defend your legal rights. To set up a free and completely confidential case evaluation, call the Bucks County drug defense lawyers of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania today. Let’s start exploring your options together.
Types of Drug Charges in Pennsylvania
Drug charges sometimes come with a social stigma that can isolate defendants at a time when they need support most. At Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates, we take a tailored, strategic approach to each and every case, and strive to provide our clients with the most aggressive and comprehensive defense possible. Our dedicated attorneys have more than 30 years of experience working with thousands of clients facing a wide variety of narcotics charges, including but not limited to:
- Simple (Personal) Possession
- Possession with Intent to Distribute
- Prescription Drug Charges
What is Drug Scheduling?
Scheduling plays an important role in many cases involving controlled substances, but what does it mean?
Simply put, drugs are assigned different numeric “schedules” by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration). To quote the DEA, “Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous class of drugs with a high potential for abuse and potentially severe psychological and/or physical dependence. […] Schedule V drugs represents the least potential for abuse.”
In other words, the lower a drug’s numeric value is, the more severely crimes involving that drug can be penalized.
- Schedule I: Marijuana, Heroin, LSD, Peyote
- Schedule II: Methamphetamine, Cocaine, OxyContin, Adderall
- Schedule III: Vicodin, Ketamine, Anabolic Steroids
- Schedule IV: Xanax, Valium
Penalties for Marijuana Charges in Pennsylvania
Despite its classification as a Schedule I substance, marijuana is subject to its own unique set of criminal penalties. As with other drugs, these penalties can change dramatically based on the amount of marijuana involved with a given charge.
Under 35 Pa.C.S.A. 113-780(a)(31), “30 grams of marihuana or eight grams of hashish shall
be considered a small amount of marihuana.” This 30-gram threshold is reflected in the sentencing and fines:
- Simple Possession, 30 grams or less: Misdemeanor, up to 30 days, up to $500.
- Simple Possession, more than 30 grams: Misdemeanor, up to 1 year, up to $5,000.
It should be noted that these are the penalties for first offenses. For a repeat offense, these fines and sentences could double.
Because 30 grams is considered to be a “small amount” under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetics Act, possession at this level is often considered to be “simple” or personal-use possession. However, if the amount increases, or if the alleged offender also has paraphernalia which suggests sales and distribution (e.g. baggies and weighing scales), a charge of possession with intent to distribute is possible. This is a more serious offense than simple possession and has the potential to be classified as a felony.
Examples of marijuana felonies in Pennsylvania include:
- Sale or Distribution, 2-10 pounds: Mandatory minimum of 1 year, fine of $5,000.
- Sale or Distribution, 10-50 pounds: Mandatory minimum of 3 years, fine of $25,000.
It should be noted that while a judge cannot reduce these minimums, he or she can impose a sentence which is greater than the minimum in some situations.
Additionally, the presence of certain factors can make the consequences of a conviction worse. Examples include a sale taking place within 1,000 feet of a designated school zone, sale to a minor, and a record of prior offenses.
Furthermore, the presence of actual marijuana may not even be necessary. Possession of paraphernalia can also trigger charges, with a conviction potentially resulting in one to two years in prison, as well as a fine ranging from $2,500 to $5,000. The greater penalties represent sale to a minor.
Our Bucks County, PA Drug Charges Defense Attorneys Can Help
If you or someone you love is facing narcotics charges in Bucks County, it is critically important that you speak to an experienced defense attorney right away. Call the law offices of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania to schedule your free and confidential legal consultation, or contact us online today.