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What is Considered Drug Trafficking in Pennsylvania?

October 13, 2020

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

Recently, a man was sentenced to twelve years in prison on two separate drug trafficking charges. Both charges were made in 2017 after the man was found with a significant amount of cocaine, heroin, and thousands of dollars in American currency. Although the man was charged by the federal U.S. attorney, the state also takes drug trafficking very seriously, and there are harsh penalties for anyone found guilty of the offense.

Drug Trafficking in Pennsylvania Defined

In Pennsylvania, drug trafficking is known as the offense ‘Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance.” The controlled substances a person might deliver or distribute may include cocaine, methamphetamines, heroin, or any other drug considered a controlled substance in Pennsylvania. The only controlled substance in Pennsylvania that is treated differently is marijuana. When someone is charged with intending to deliver or distribute marijuana, the penalties are less severe than someone found trafficking narcotics or other illegal substances.

To secure a conviction for drug trafficking, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual grew, manufactured, or obtained a controlled substance and then delivered, or intended to deliver, it to someone else.

Penalties for Drug Trafficking

Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance is typically charged as a felony in Pennsylvania, even when it is a first offense for the defendant. The penalties range depending on the severity of the charge, which will vary depending on the type of drug involved and the amount of drugs in question. If convicted, a person could face between 7 and 20 years in prison. In some cases, the prosecution may agree to a lesser charge if the defendant pleads guilty, or provides information integral to an investigation considered a higher priority.

Defending Against Drug Trafficking Charges

Facing charges of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance seems hopeless, but it is not. There are many defenses available, including:

  • Unlawful search and seizure: If drugs were found as part of an illegal search, they are thrown out as evidence, which is incredibly damaging to the prosecution’s case.
  • No reading of rights: If you were arrested and the officer did not read you the Miranda warning, any statements you made can be thrown out as evidence.
  • No possession: Simply being around a drug is not enough to charge a person with drug trafficking or possession. The prosecution must prove that you had constructive possession of the drug. This means they must prove that you knew of the drugs and that you intended to use them for your benefit or for the benefit of someone else.
  • Entrapment: A very difficult defense to prove, but if a law enforcement officer coerced you into taking actions you otherwise would not have, it is considered entrapment and can provide a valid defense.

Our Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyers can Help with Your Charges

Facing charges for drug trafficking is very scary, as convictions carry very harsh sentences. If you have been charged, our Philadelphia drug possession lawyers at van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim are here to help. We know the defenses available in these cases and will use them effectively to give you the best chance of beating the charges. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.



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