Across the United States, there has been a significant increase in heroin possession arrests, due in large part to the opioid epidemic. But a significant number of possession charges have also been increased to trafficking; often without merit.
Any possession at all can get you charged with trafficking
Simple possession of less than 1 gram of heroin is a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania, punishable by up to one year in prison on the first offense. Remember, however, that it is also a crime to buy heroin and to be in possession of heroin paraphernalia, so you could face additional penalties.
Also, if you take the drug across state lines or are involved in a federal investigation, then you may be facing federal charges.
Drug treatment program
As an alternative to jail time, Pennsylvania and other states offer a drug court program which features heavy supervision, counseling and frequent drug testing. The program's goal is to help addicts kick the drug and to reduce recidivism.
Drug trafficking defense
A conviction of intent to deliver a controlled substance is a felony that carries much harsher penalties than simple possession: Between seven to 20 years and as much as $250,000 or more in fines to recover drug profits. Sentencing factors include the amount of the drug, the severity of the charge and the classification of the drug. Penalties double if you are convicted of selling heroin to a minor.
Prosecutors must prove that you manufactured, grew or obtained the drug and intended to deliver it for sale in Pennsylvania. Potential defenses for drug trafficking or distribution charges include:
- Lack of knowledge
- Lack of intent to distribute
- Insufficient quantity of the drug
- Ownership of the drug not clear
- Unlawful search and seizure or entrapment
Everyone deserves a good defense when they face the legal system. Just because you made a mistake doesn't mean you give up your right to a proper legal defense.