All drug-related charges have the potential to result in severe consequences. However, drug trafficking is one of the most serious drug crimes that a defendant can be accused of. Unlike certain other drug offenses, trafficking is almost always a felony crime in Pennsylvania. Additionally, an arrest for drug trafficking can expose the defendant to federal charges – and with them, federal mandatory minimums. Whether a defendant is being tried in state or federal court, he or she needs representation from an experienced, effective defense attorney.
At Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates, we are Pennsylvania drug trafficking defense lawyers with over 30 years of experience on our side. Representing men, women, and juveniles throughout Philadelphia, our trusted attorneys are here to explain and protect your legal rights, challenge the evidence against you, and work to reduce the penalties you are facing. If you or a family member was arrested for drug trafficking in Philadelphia, Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates can fight in your corner. For a free legal consultation, contact us online or call (215) 372-8667 today.
Pennsylvania Drug Trafficking Laws
Pennsylvania’s drug laws are grouped together under a piece of legislation called the Controlled Substances, Drugs, Device, and Cosmetic Act. “Controlled substances” can refer to street drugs, such as heroin, or to prescription medications, such as OxyContin. Controlled substances are labeled as Schedule V, Schedule IV, Schedule III, Schedule II, or Schedule I. The lower the number, the more dangerous the drug is considered to be. Examples of controlled substances include:
- LSD (acid)
- Marijuana (weed, cannabis)
- PCP (angel dust)
- Psilocybin mushrooms (shrooms, magic mushrooms)
Trafficking in any of these substances can lead to imprisonment, costly fines, license suspension, community service, and the loss of various privileges, such as the right to own or buy a gun. If you have been arrested for drug trafficking or drug distribution, it is critical to seek legal help from an aggressive trial attorney right away.
Penalties for Drug Trafficking
Drug trafficking can result in harsher penalties than most other drug offenses, such as “simple” possession (possession for personal use) or the possession of drug paraphernalia. This applies to both state and federal trafficking charges.
Pennsylvania Drug Trafficking Penalties
The penalties for drug trafficking in Pennsylvania are contained under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 7508. These penalties, though often harsh, can vary widely. Ultimately, the consequences for drug trafficking depend on the type and quantity of the narcotics being trafficked, and whether there are any aggravating or mitigating factors that could make the penalties lighter or more severe for the defendant.
To provide some examples, 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 7508(a)(1)(i) establishes a penalty of “one year in prison and a fine of $5,000” for trafficking “at least two pounds, but less than ten pounds” of marijuana. However, if the defendant has a prior drug trafficking conviction, the maximum prison sentence doubles to two years, and the maximum fine doubles to $10,000 – for a crime involving the same amount of marijuana. Under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 7508(a)(1)(ii), if it is the defendant’s first offense and the crime involves “at least ten pounds, but less than 50 pounds” of marijuana, the maximum fine is $15,000 while the maximum sentence is three years. For a second offense involving the same quantities of marijuana, the maximum fine is $30,000, while the maximum prison sentence is four years.
To reiterate, there are different penalties for different substances. Compared to the marijuana penalties above, penalties for trafficking other Schedule I and Schedule II drugs (such as cocaine and heroin) include the following:
- Minimum 2.0 grams, under 10 grams – $5,000, two years in prison
- With a previous trafficking conviction – $10,000, three years in prison
- Minimum 10 grams, under 100 grams – $15,000, three years in prison
- With a previous trafficking conviction – $30,000, five years in prison
- 100 grams or more – $25,000, five years in prison
- With a previous trafficking conviction – $50,000, seven years in prison
Federal Drug Trafficking Sentences
The United States Sentencing Commission reports that among “the 66,873 offenders sentenced in fiscal year 2017, 19,240 offenders were sentenced for a drug trafficking offense.” In other words, more than a quarter of the defendants sentenced for federal crimes were convicted of drug trafficking. Most of these cases involved one of the following:
- Cocaine trafficking (crack, powder)
- Heroin trafficking
- Marijuana trafficking
- Methamphetamine trafficking
- OxyContin trafficking (oxycodone)
The Commission also reports that the average federal drug trafficking sentence is 70 months, which is equivalent to just under six years in prison (five years and 10 months). Nearly 20% of those convicted received extra time on their sentences “because the offense involved the possession of a weapon.”
Drug Trafficking Defense Attorneys Serving Philadelphia, PA
If you were arrested for drug trafficking in Philadelphia, or if one of your family members is under investigation as a suspected drug trafficker, there is no time to lose building your case and planning your defense. An experienced drug trafficking attorney can uphold your rights, advise you of your legal options, and seek ways to have your charges reduced, or potentially even have the case dismissed.
Do not wait to get the legal help you need and deserve. Contact the law offices of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates online, or call right away at (215) 372-8667 for a free consultation about drug trafficking charges in Philadelphia. We answer calls 24 hours a day.