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Four Things You Need to Know About Pennsylvania Drug Laws

December 11, 2017

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

A number of states have taken a more relaxed approach to the enforcement of certain drugs laws (e.g. Colorado and California legalizing the possession of marijuana). However, Pennsylvania has not embraced this trend. Under current state law, it remains against the law to be in possession drugs such as marijuana, opioids and methamphetamines. Below are four important things you need to know about the applicable drug laws in Pennsylvania.

Fact No. 1 – A Conviction for a Drug Penalty Can Extend Beyond a Fine and Jail Time

The repercussions of a conviction for possessing or selling drugs can affect you for the rest of your life. For example, if you work in an occupation requiring a license (e.g., lawyer, doctor, nurses, CDL truck driver, or schoolteacher), a drug conviction may result in you losing your job since you will not be able to maintain your required licensure. A drug conviction can also affect whether you can maintain custody of your children and make it more difficult to rent an apartment or apply to college.

Fact No. 2 – Conviction for Drug Possession Can Remain on Your Permanent Record

If you are convicted of marijuana possession or cocaine possession, it can be extremely challenging to get that conviction off your record. There is the possibility of seeking an expungement of your record, but in order to even qualify for an expungement, the arrest had to be for a “summary offense” or you were able to avoid a conviction.

Fact No. 3 – If You were Found to be in Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, You Could Face Even Harsher Penalties

If you are in possession of a bong or pipe used to smoke marijuana, you will likely face even harsher criminal penalties than if you were simply in possession of a small amount of marijuana.

Fact No. 4 – There are Viable Defenses Your Attorney Can Raise to Exonerate You

If you or a family member is facing a drug possession charge simply because a police officer found drugs on or around you, it is important to understand that you have viable defenses. Some people make the mistake of believing they have no choice but to plead guilty and serve whatever punishment is doled out by the court. This is not correct. For example, your defense attorney can argue that you did not intend to actually possess the drugs or that the drugs did not belong to you. In addition, your defense attorney can investigate how the arrest was made and whether police conducted a search with a valid warrant or in compliance with established legal precedent under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

Contact an Experienced Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer

Being charged with drug possession is a serious matter that carries significant consequences, if convicted. That is why you need a top-notch defense attorney. van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim in Philadelphia possesses years of trial experience and are ready to take on your case. Contact our office today to schedule a meeting.


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