Being charged with a crime in Philadelphia can make even the strongest of people feel as if their world is collapsing. Wimmer Criminal Defense, the preeminent criminal defense law firm in Philadelphia, has put together the below guide to help you become acquainted with some of the terms you may hear as you navigate the…
Drug Possession Charges
Police take drug possession very seriously and the District Attorney’s Office of Philadelphia is constantly cracking down on people arrested for drug possession in the city. Whether you were caught with marijuana, pills, cocaine, heroin, meth, or other drugs, you could be facing serious punishments. Many drug offenses include fines and the possibility of jail time. Furthermore, there are no guarantees that you will be offered a plea deal.
Without an experienced defense attorney on your side, you risk being misled by police and prosecutors and pleading guilty to a crime that may not fit what you did. Hiring a criminal defense attorney for your drug case can help minimize the charges against you, avoid jail time, or get the charges dismissed. Lauren Wimmer helps clients in the Philadelphia area fight their drug charges aggressively.
The Basics of Drug Possession in Pennsylvania
Drug possession crimes in Pennsylvania are not found in the criminal code, but rather under the laws for “Health and Safety.” This may make it seem like the lawmakers consider drugs to be a health concern, but it is clear from the way police and prosecutors handle drug crimes in Pennsylvania that the government considers it serious.
In Pennsylvania, possession of under 30 grams of marijuana (or under eight grams of hashish) is treated as a lighter offense than most drug crimes. Possession of a small amount of marijuana is listed as a crime under 35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(31). This crime includes having marijuana for personal use, having marijuana to deliver it to someone else, or actually delivering marijuana to someone else – as long as you do not intend to sell it for money. The sale of marijuana, even if it is under 30 grams, is a different crime. Also note that marijuana is spelled “marihuana” in the Pennsylvania code, but means the same thing.
In Philadelphia, specifically, marijuana has been “decriminalized.” This does not mean that marijuana possession is legal, just that you likely will not be arrested for a “crime” with under 30 grams. Instead, Philadelphia issues you a citation for a “summary offense,” but summary offenses can still carry costly fines and the possibility of jail time.
Other Drug Possession
Possession of any other drug, or more than 30 grams of marijuana (or eight grams of hashish), is taken very seriously under Pennsylvania law. General drug possession in Pennsylvania is listed under 35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(16). This possession includes any “controlled or counterfeit substance,” which means any drug listed in Pennsylvania’s “drug schedules.”
Criminal defense lawyer Lauren Wimmer can help with any of these drug possession charges under § 780-113(a)(16):
- Cocaine possession
- Crack possession
- Crystal meth/methamphetamine possession
- Heroin possession
- LSD possession
- Marijuana (pot, weed, etc.) over 30 grams (or eight grams of hashish)
- MDMA/Molly/Ecstasy possession
- PCP/Angel Dust possession
- Prescription drug possession
- Psilocybin/mushroom possession
- Synthetic marijuana possession
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
When people are charged with drug possession, they usually have the drug stored in something. If a person also possesses a perceived way of injecting, smoking, or taking the drug, these tools are generally called “paraphernalia”. Possession of drug paraphernalia is illegal under 35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(32).
Possession of drug paraphernalia is only illegal if the government can prove that you used it, or have it with the intent to use it for one of the following listed purposes:
- Storing, or
- Ingesting drugs.
Drug paraphernalia, as mentioned, includes any of the tools used alongside drugs. This includes the following:
- Bongs/water pipes
- Rolling papers
- Vaporizers/vapes modified for use with marijuana
Some of these may have legal uses, such as rolling papers (for tobacco) and baggies (for storage), so the government may have a difficult case to prove possession of drug paraphernalia without the presence of drugs or drug residue. It may also be difficult for the government to prove you intended to use the paraphernalia involved. Without certain kinds of evidence, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to beat the government’s case.
Penalties for Drug Crimes in Pennsylvania
For possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana (or less than eight grams of hashish), Pennsylvania’s maximum sentence is 30 days in jail. You can also be sentenced to a fine of up to $500 on top of court fees and other built-in costs.
For any other simple drug possession, the maximum sentence is one year in jail. You can also be made to pay a fine of up to $5,000 on top of court costs and fees
Possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor and is punished with up to one year in jail and a potential fine of up to $2,500. This crime can still be charged even if you do not possess any drugs at the time of your arrest.
While these crimes have jail time and fines, a conviction has long-lasting effects that can negatively impact the rest of your life such as your opportunity to get jobs, education, loans, and other benefits. I invite you to contact Wimmer Criminal Defense or call 215-712-1212 for a free consultation today. I will work to reduce the charges you actually face and the consequences which will result. I also represent those accused of drug manufacturing and drug trafficking or intent to deliver.
If You’ve Been Charged with a Drug-Related Crime, I Can Help
Ms.Wimmer can help navigate the criminal proceedings process and may be able to obtain a plea deal, get charges dropped, or flat out beat the charges against you. Call for a free legal consultation.