When facing a drug offense, there is a big difference between simple possession and possession with the intent to sell or distribute. Simple possession of marijuana (up to 30 grams) is a misdemeanor charge, whereas possession with intent to sell is a felony, according to statute 780-113. But how does the prosecution prove that you had the intent to distribute if you were not arrested by police while actually selling or distributing the narcotics? After all, it is not like law enforcement knows what your intentions or plans are. If you have been charged with any type of drug crime, whether it is for possession or possession with intent to sell, you need to contact an attorney immediately.
An Individual Would Not Have that Quantity of a Controlled Substance for Personal Use
If you are found with a certain amount of controlled substance on your person or in your control, law enforcement and the prosecution do not have to prove that you had an intent to sell or distribute. The quantity of narcotics is taken as evidence for intent to sell or distribute because an individual would not be able to reasonably consume that quantity of a controlled substance by themselves. For each type of controlled substance, there is a specific threshold that determines whether the defendant will be tried for possession or possession with intent to sell or distribute.
When a certain threshold is met in terms of quantity of controlled substance, the state of Pennsylvania will seek a conviction with a mandatory minimum sentence. The following are examples of mandatory minimum sentences for certain types of controlled substances, according to statute 7508 (a):
- Two pounds to less than 10 pounds of marijuana: One year for the first conviction, two years for a second conviction;
- One gram to less than five grams of heroin: Two years for the first conviction, three years for a second conviction;
- Two grams to less than 10 grams of cocaine: One year for the first conviction, three years for a second conviction; and
- Five grams to less than 10 grams of methamphetamine: Three years for the first conviction, five years for a second conviction.
Call a Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney
There are a number of different defenses to possession as well as possession with intent to sell or distribute. For one, in order to have had knowledge of the controlled substance to be convicted. For another, if the police conducted an illegal search and seizure, you cannot be charged for any controlled substance found on you as the evidence will be inadmissible in court. We urge you to reach out to an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer who is tried and trusted both in and out of the courtroom, and who knows how to successfully handle all types of drug charges. Call the lawyers at van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin today and we will help you plan your next step.