West Chester

Drug Trafficking Attorney

To stem the flow of illegal drugs, prosecutors routinely target individuals who transport and sell controlled substances. They believe harshly punishing those who sell and move drugs will cut off the supply. However, to punish traffickers and drug dealers, Pennsylvania created laws to punish the mere possession of controlled substances. If prosecutors can prove you possessed more of a controlled substance than was for personal use, you might be charged with possession with intent to deliver or trafficking. These are much more serious offenses.

If you have been arrested and charged with possession with intent to deliver or trafficking, drug attorney Michael J. Skinner will fight for your rights. As an experienced drug trafficking lawyer, he will diligently examine every aspect of the case, the facts the prosecutor will assert, and all the steps police took in gathering evidence. As a former Chester County prosecutor, he will find the holes and mistakes. He will expose those weaknesses and work to have your charges reduced or dismissed. If your case moves forward to trial, he will build you a strong and effective defense and vigorously fight to win an acquittal. Call the Skinner Law Firm today at (610) 436-1410 to set up a free consultation.

Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID)

The law prohibiting PWID is in the Pennsylvania Controlled Substances, Drugs, Device and Cosmetic Act. Specifically, it is unlawful to manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance if you are not registered to do so under the Act.

The law makes PWID a separate crime from simple drug possession. However, proof of delivering or transferring the drug to another party is not necessarily the basis for whether a prosecutor charges you with this offense. The key factor is quantity. If you possess an amount more than what a normal person might possess for personal use, prosecutors may attempt to bring charges for PWID.

Evidence of delivery may be critical to your case. A prosecutor may seek to prove you delivered the substance, such as if you were allegedly seen dealing drugs. To “deliver” is defined as the actual, constructive, or attempted transfer of a controlled substance from one person to another. There is no distinction made between selling and giving away a drug. Whether or not you made a profit is not an element of delivery.

Other circumstantial evidence may play a role such as:

  • How the drugs were packaged;
  • The presence of materials necessary for packaging drugs;
  • Where you were at the time of your arrest;
  • The presence of large sums of money on your person or at the scene; and
  • Any other behavior the police observed.

Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substances Schedule

All states and the federal government divide drugs into various categories indicating the level of risk that drug poses. Schedule I drugs are the most serious and the most harshly punished.

  • Schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse and no accepted medical purpose. They include marijuana, heroin, mescaline, and synthetic drugs, like spice and bath salts.
  • Schedule II drugs contain substances with a high potential for abuse and accepted medical uses with severe restrictions. These include opium, cocaine, methamphetamines, and methadone.
  • Schedule III drugs include narcotics with less potential for abuse and accepted medical uses. These include LSD and steroids.
  • Schedule IV drugs have a lower potential for abuse and accepted medical uses. They include many prescription medications.
  • Schedule V drugs have the least potential for abuse and accepted medical uses. They include limited quantities of certain prescription medications and over-the-counter medications with small amounts of codeine.

PWID Penalties in Pennsylvania

PWID of any Schedule I or II narcotic drug is a felony and punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Narcotic drugs are any opium or opiate that is either derived from a plant or through chemical synthesis.

If you are convicted of PWID of phencyclidine, methamphetamine, or cocaine, then you face up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

For PWID of any other Schedule I, II, or III controlled substance, you face up to five years in prison and a fine of $15,000.

PWID of any Schedule IV drug is punishable by up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

PWID of any Schedule V drugs is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

For a first-time PWID conviction, your license will be suspended for six months. For a second offense, you will have a one-year license suspension, and for a third offense, you will have a two-year license suspension.

If you have any questions regarding the charge and penalty you face for alleged PWID, contact our drug trafficking attorneys. We will thoroughly review the allegations against you, explain the possibilities, and discuss how to best defend yourself.

Drug Trafficking in Pennsylvania

Under 18 PA Cons Stat §7508, drug trafficking is smuggling or importation of drugs. However, like PWID, whether or not a prosecutor charges you with drug trafficking typically rests on the amount.

Facing a drug trafficking sentence is serious. Pennsylvania law calls for mandatory minimum sentences based on the type and amount of drugs in your possession or under your control.

Drug Trafficking Penalties & Mandatory Sentences

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has held that previously accepted mandatory minimum sentences are now considered unconstitutional. This means that mandatory minimums are no longer used by Pennsylvania Judges in determining the penalties for individuals convicted of drug trafficking. However, we unfortunately still hear stories of people being pressured into accepting pleas to avoid harsh compulsory prison terms.

While mandatory sentences are no longer implemented, juries can still enhance sentences depending on various factors. While drug trafficking is typically a felony in Pennsylvania, your sentence will be based on your prior criminal history, the circumstances involved in your case, the type of drug, the amount being trafficked, and it’s overall charge classification.

  • Third-degree misdemeanor– Up to one year in jail, and fines up to $2,000.
  • Second-degree misdemeanor– Up to two years in jail, and a max fine of $5,000.
  • First-degree misdemeanor–Up to five years in jail, and fines reaching $10,000.
  • Third-degree felony– Up to seven years imprisonment, and a max fine of $15,000.
  • Second-degree felony–Up to 10 years in prison, and fines reaching $25,000.
  • First-degree felony– Up to 20 years in prison, and maximum fines of $25,000.

Defending Against Drug Trafficking & PWID Charges

To give yourself the best possible chance of resolving the case in your favor, you need to remain silent when contacted by the police. If you are arrested or the police show up at your house with a warrant, remain calm. Cooperate with the police, but state frankly that you will not speak to the police without a lawyer. Then, contact a drug trafficking lawyer as soon as possible.

There are many ways to defend against felony drug charges in Pennsylvania, including:

  • Constitutional Violations: If you were subjected to an unlawful traffic stop or search and seizure, we would fight to have any resulting evidence ruled inadmissible. This can severely weaken the prosecutor’s case.
  • Lack of Possession: Drug charges required you had actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance. We may present evidence that the drugs were not yours and that you had no knowledge of them.
  • Incorrect Amount: The amount of the drug(s) in your case are important because they impact the level of the charge and the potential mandatory minimum penalty. We may argue that the police and prosecution improperly measured the drug and that your charges should be reduced.
  • Duress: We may have evidence that you were acting under duress. You or your loved ones may have been threatened with violence.
  • Lack of Intent: We may seek to have the charges reduced by proving you lacked the intent to distribute or traffic the drugs, and they were merely for personal use.

We Recommend Working with a Drug Trafficking Defense Lawyer

If you have been arrested or are being investigated for PWID or drug trafficking, a drug trafficking lawyer could make the difference between freedom and incarceration. Attorney Michael J. Skinner is an experienced PA criminal defense attorney who will fight for your rights.

When you are facing a charge for possession with intent to deliver or drug trafficking in West Chester, Phoenixville, Kennett Square, Oxford, Coatesville, or anywhere in Chester County, contact the Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 today to set up a free consultation to go over the details of your case.