A few drug possession laws have changed markedly in the recent past. Many states, including Pennsylvania, have substantially relaxed their marijuana laws. But these changes have not affected the state’s other drug possession laws. Neither have these changes weakened the zeal of law enforcement and prosecutors. These individuals are more determined than ever to show that drugs are a serious problem. So, they are willing to make an example out of you.
The relentless Allentown drug possession attorneys at van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin are determined to prevent this scenario. We thoroughly examine the facts and then scour the applicable law. As a result, your defense has a firm foundation. Then, we build on this foundation to create reasonable doubt. Then, we leverage our success in both pretrial negotiations and at trial. This approach often produces results which exceed our clients’ expectations.
Types of Drug Offenses in Allentown
Crack cocaine is rather cheap, and many former prescription drug addicts turn to heroin when their doctors cut them off. So, these two substances are some of the most common “street drug” prosecutions in Lehigh County. Other street drugs include:
- Powder cocaine, and
- MDMA (Ecstasy).
These drugs are all incredibly powerful and have no known medicinal use. So, street drug penalties are very high.
Other controlled substances, such as anabolic steroids and opioid painkillers, are available with valid, legal prescriptions. Any other possession is illegal. That could include pill bottles with expired prescriptions. Furthermore, giving a pill to a friend could be considered drug trafficking. Finally, prescription controlled substances often involve ancillary crimes, like altering a prescription label.
Some drugs, like methamphetamines and marijuana, are a little of both. Most people use legal ingredients to cook meth. In the wrong amount, even possession of something legal could be illegal in the context of the war on drugs.
The severity of the offense usually depends on the amount of the substance and the presence of aggravating factors. The amount is usually objective. Prosecutors weigh the drugs, and the answer is fairly definitive. Occasionally, however, the drugs are cut or mixed with other substances. That could affect the outcome of the case. Aggravating circumstances are more subjective. Items like cash, baggies, or firearms may be evidence of drug trafficking, or they may have nothing to do with the drug offense.
Drug Crime Defenses in Pennsylvania
Law enforcement officers usually “field test” substances when they make arrests. Often, these tests are little more than visual inspections. A good defense attorney always conducts a formal scientific test as well.
Many drug possession cases begin with traffic stops. Officers must have reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle. More importantly, they must have probable cause to search a vehicle and the search must fit within one of the limited search warrant exceptions. If the evidence does not pass muster, a Lehigh County judge will exclude it.
Others begin with lengthy investigations. By the time investigators have enough evidence for a warrant, they have often invested hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into the case. That money often includes substantial payoffs to confidential informants. With so much at stake, law enforcement and prosecutors sometimes take shortcuts. It’s important that an aggressive attorney ensure that everyone follows the proper Constitutional procedures.
Reach Out to Experienced Drug Crime Attorneys
Pennsylvania has some of the toughest drug possession laws, and some of the toughest drug prosecutors, in the country. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Allentown, contact van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin. We routinely handle matters in Lehigh County and nearby jurisdictions.