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What is PWID (Possession with Intent to Deliver), and When Can You Be Charged with It?


10/23/2019

Drug cases are prosecuted aggressively in Pennsylvania. Charges related to drug dealing or drug trafficking are among the most severe drug charges you can face, resulting in thousands of dollars in fines and years in prison. Unfortunately, many of our clients find themselves facing charges for selling or dealing drugs without knowing how it happened.

At Wimmer Criminal Defense Law, we believe that you are entitled to a fair result. We know the tactics that over-aggressive prosecutors use and know how to beat them. If you’re facing drug charges and need someone on your side, Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Lauren Wimmer will fight for your rights. Call us at 215-712-1212 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.

PWID Defined

In Pennsylvania, “possession with intent to deliver” is a drug offense that includes the following activities:

  • Growing or cultivating drugs
  • Manufacturing drugs
  • Selling drugs
  • Distributing drugs

As you can see, you can be charged with PWID for growing marijuana plants or operating a meth lab. It’s important to note that you can be charged with PWID even if no money changed hands. Finally, the police can charge you with PWID even if you didn’t actually sell or distribute the drugs – they can charge you with PWID if they believe that you intended to sell or distribute the drugs.

All of that said, it’s important to remember that the prosecution must prove that you are guilty of PWID beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict you. An experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate the case against you and defend you against meritless charged.

Situations that Can Result in a PWID Charge

There are two basic situations that could result in a PWID charge. The first is that you were in possession of drugs when stopped by the police, and they believed the drugs were not for personal use. In this situation, the police will typically rely upon two scenarios to support the charge:

  1. The quantity of drugs suggests that you intended to distribute them; and/or
  2. The drugs were packaged in a way that would suggest you intended to distribute them (the drugs were divided into equal portions and packaged in plastic baggies).

The other situation that could result in a PWID charge is if the police observe you selling drugs or engaged in some activity that would suggest you intended to sell drugs. For example, they may have happened to see a corner drug deal when patrolling your street, or they may have had you under surveillance for quite some time.

How PWID is Different from Simple Possession

Pennsylvania law makes it illegal to possess any controlled substance. However, the penalties associated with a simple possession charge are much lighter than the penalties that can be imposed following a PWID conviction.

The difference between a simple possession charge and a PWID charge is obvious when the police observed you, for example, selling drugs. However, it isn’t always clear whether a PWID charge is justified. Unlike other states, Pennsylvania does not require a specific amount of drugs in order to charge you with PWID. As a result, the police and prosecutors are making a subjective determination that the amount of drugs in your possession suggests that the drugs were not for personal use.

It’s common for the prosecution to “overcharge” you with crimes that they may not be able to prove. It’s a strategy intended to persuade you to accept a plea agreement for a lesser charge. Unless you are represented by a criminal defense attorney, you can expect these kinds of tactics and more.

What the Prosecution Has to Prove

In order to convict you, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That you were in possession of drugs;
  2. That you were distributing them or intended to distribute them.

These elements may seem obvious, but they can be more difficult to prove then you may think.

The prosecution can prove that you were in either actual possession or constructive possession. Actual possession is when you have the drugs on your person, whereas constructive possession is when you have the drugs not on your person but under your control. For example, you could be charged with possession if the police find drugs in the trunk of your car. Many PWID charges involve constructive possession rather than actual possession. This further illustrates how PWID can be charged in a wide variety of situations, some of which may be without merit.

If the prosecution can prove that you were in either actual or constructive possession of drugs, they must then prove that you intended to distribute them. If they do not have any evidence that you actually sold or distributed drugs, they will have to rely upon circumstantial evidence to prove PWID. As mentioned previously, this could be things like the quantity of drugs in your possession or how the drugs were packaged.

PWID Penalties

PWID is almost always charged as a felony, the only exception being if you were in possession of Schedule V drugs. The severity of the potential penalties will depend on a few factors:

  • The drug involved in your charges according to the Pennsylvania drug schedules
  • The amount of drugs
  • Your criminal history
  • Other circumstances surrounding your case, such as whether weapons were involved or you are charged with dealing drugs in a school zone

The first two factors – the drug and the amount – will primarily determine the penalties you will face. For example, if you have been charged with PWID for heroin (a Schedule I drug), you could face the following possible penalties on your first offense:

  • One to five grams: two years in prison and a fine of $5,000
  • Five to 50 grams: three years in prison and a fine of $15,000
  • 50 grams or more: five years in prison and a fine of $25,000

The penalties become harsher for second and subsequent offenses.

Charged with PWID? Call Philadelphia Drug Defense Lawyer Lauren Wimmer Today

A PWID conviction can change your future forever. Don’t let the prosecution bully you into believing you’re guilty or accepting an unfair plea deal. You need a lawyer who will protect your rights and get you a fair result. Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Lauren Wimmer provides her clients with dedicated and aggressive legal representation. Contact Wimmer Criminal Defense Law at 215-712-1212 to schedule a free consultation and discuss how we can help you.