West Chester Criminal Defense Blog Posts and Articles | Skinner Law Firm

Is Marijuana Possession a Serious Matter in Pennsylvania?

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It can be difficult to keep up as medical and recreational marijuana laws rapidly change across the country. Medical provisions have made it easier for patients to access marijuana, and some states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana altogether. These eased restrictions have led some defendants to believe that marijuana possession charges are not that serious. The reality is that possession charges can have lost-lasting consequences on a defendant’s life for years to come.


Sentencing for Marijuana Possession

The Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes create sentencing guidelines based on the amount of prohibited substance the defendant is found to be in possession of. Section 780-113(g) of Title 35 requires a sentence as many as 30 days in jail, a fine of $500, or both when the defendant is in possession of as much as 30 grams of marijuana or as much as eight grams of hashish. A first offense of possession also results in six-month suspension of the defendant’s driving privileges. Second offenses result in one-year suspensions, and third (and subsequent) offenses result in two-year suspensions.

The Collateral Consequences of a Marijuana Possession Conviction

While most defendants understand that they face a combination of fines, jail time, and community service, they’re often painfully unaware of the collateral consequences that a marijuana charge and conviction can bring. First, the court process is not a simple matter of filling out forms. It requires multiple court appearances that often result in missing work. Court-ordered community service and substance abuse classes take more time and can further aggravate the defendant’s employer.

Furthermore, the sentenced fine is not the only court cost a defendant must pay. Court fees, administrative fees, attorney’s fees, and other fees add up quickly. Finally, defendants do not always realize the impact of having a criminal record, which can preclude employment and educational opportunities.

A defendant can also lose a professional license, and with it, employment, upon conviction. Many licensing entities in Pennsylvania require reporting of criminal convictions, and some even require reporting of arrests and other pre-conviction proceedings. A first-time offense can cause a defendant to spend many hours attempting to secure a professional license. This, too, can incur more attorney fees.

Possession and other marijuana offenses—such as driving under the influence—can also cause defendants to lose driving privileges. Defendants must obtain special restricted licenses for the period during which they must install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. When this period is successfully completed, defendants must obtain the appropriate court orders and return to the DMV to have their regular driver’s licenses reinstated. This process is neither fun nor fast.

The Right Representation for Your Pennsylvania Marijuana Possession Defense

Seek legal advice as soon as possible after any drug-related arrest. Experienced Pennsylvania drug defense attorney Michael J. Skinner will ably guide you throughout the criminal process. Call (610) 436-1410 today to schedule your free consultation with Skinner Law Firm so we can begin protecting your rights.

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Unexpected Consequences of a DUI Conviction

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Being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Pennsylvania can have severe consequences—both in the short and long-term. Once you understand what those consequences can be, you will know why you need to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney as soon as possible after you have been charged with DUI.

What Is a DUI?

In Pennsylvania, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level at the time of your arrest often determines whether you will be charged with DUI—and how serious a charge you will face. The three basic DUI levels in Pennsylvania are as follows:

  • Lowest-Level Tier: .08 to .099
  • Mid-Level Tier: .10 to .159
  • Highest-Level Tier: .16 and higher

Many factors can affect an individual’s BAC level, such as age, body type, drink strength, gender, hydration, metabolism, overall health, the rate of consumption, etc. Even though “conventional wisdom” indicates that you will stay under a BAC level of .08 if you have no more than one “standard drink” per hour, there is no way to be sure that will be the case for you (Note: A “standard drink” is one-half ounce of alcohol: i.e., one 12-ounce beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or one 1.5-ounce of distilled spirits). 

Other Factors Affecting the Charges You Will Face

Several other factors can affect the level of charges that are brought against you—and the penalties that may be imposed on you. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Do you have any prior DUI convictions?
  • Were you driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications?
  • Were you driving a commercial vehicle?
  • Were you underage at the time of your arrest?
  • Were you involved in an accident?

Potential Penalties

Even a first-time DUI conviction for the lowest-level DUI tier has serious consequences, including:

  • A misdemeanor record
  • Six months or more of probation
  • A $300 fine
  • Mandatory attendance at Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Mandatory enrollment in an alcohol or drug treatment program
  • Quite likely, a major increase in your insurance premium

Legal Assistance

A knowledgeable and experienced lawyer will review every aspect of your case to ensure that your DUI arrest did not violate any of your rights. Thereafter, the lawyer may seek to have the charges against you—and the penalties that are imposed on you—appropriately reduced or dropped for a variety of reasons.

Call a Local West Chester, Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, call the Skinner Law Firm today at 610-436-1410 for a free consultation or send us an email through our online contact form. Let our West Chester DUI attorney help you resolve this matter—and minimize its impact on you and your family.

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