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Pennsylvania Drug Crime Defense Lawyer

Controlled substances in Pennsylvania are defined as drugs, substances or immediate precursors listed in the state’s drug schedules. Criminal offenses associated with controlled substance offenses can be either or state or federal offenses, and although both can lead to harsh penalties, federal charges usually incur much more severe punishments.

Some of the most common controlled substance offenses include:

West Chester Drug Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a drug offense in Chester County, or the surrounding areas of Lancaster County, Montgomery County or Delaware County, contact the Skinner Law Firm. Michael J. Skinner is an experienced criminal lawyer who will make every effort to help you avoid the most severe punishments for your charges. He is also knowledgeable on local county Drug Courts and pre-trial diversion program options. Call (610) 436-1410 for a consultation today.


Pennsylvania Drug Crimes Information Center


Drug Offenses and Penalties in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act (35 P.S. §§ 780-101 – 780-144) controls the regulation of drugs in Pennsylvania. It also includes Pennsylvania’s Schedule of Drugs, and defines numerous prohibited acts associated with controlled substances and provides the statutory penalties for these offenses.

Possession of a Controlled Substance is knowingly or intentionally having actual or constructive possession of any of the substances listed in Pennsylvania’s Schedule of Drugs. Any person that is not registered as a practitioner or licensed to have the drug can be found guilty of this offense. Depending on the Schedule the controlled substance falls into, a conviction for this offense is a misdemeanor and penalties can include imprisonment for up to one year and/or a fine up to $5,000.

Drug Trafficking is the purchase and sale of controlled substances, or the delivery or importation of illegal drugs across state or national borders, or throughout the state. Depending on the Schedule the controlled substance falls into, a conviction for this offense is a felony, and penalties can include imprisonment for up to 15 years and/or a fine up to $250,000.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia is knowingly or intentionally having actual or constructive possession of any equipment, products or materials used or designed for use in growing, cultivating, manufacturing, injecting, inhaling, storing or containing any controlled substance in the Act.   Depending on the Schedule the controlled substance falls into, a conviction for this offense is a misdemeanor, and penalties can include imprisonment for up to one year and/or a fine up to $2,500.

Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID) is the knowing or intentional transfer of a controlled substance from one person to another. Depending on the Schedule the controlled substance falls into, a conviction for this offense is a felony, and penalties can include imprisonment for up to 15 years and/or a fine up to $250,000.

Unlawful Manufacturing is the production, preparation, compounding, conversion or processing, packaging or repackaging of a controlled substance by a person not authorized to do so. Depending on the Schedule the controlled substance falls into, a conviction for this offense can be a misdemeanor or felony, and penalties can include imprisonment up to 15 years and/or a fine up to $250,000.


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Pennsylvania’s Schedule of Controlled Substances

Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act lists and categorizes all controlled substances in a Schedule of controlled substances based on how addictive the controlled substance is, and whether there is any type of medical purpose to the drug. The Act places the substances into four Schedules, ranging from the most serious drugs with the harshest penalties for any drug offense related to the drugs to the least serious drugs with the lightest penalties for any drug offense related to the drugs.

  • Schedule I – The drugs in this Schedule have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use no accepted safety for use under medical supervision in the United States. Examples of drugs in this Schedule include Heroin, Mescaline, Peyote and Marihuana.
  • Schedule II – The substances in this Schedule have a high potential for abuse, currently accepted medical use in the United States or accepted medical use with severe restrictions or abuse of these substances may lead to severe dependence. Examples of drugs in this Schedule include opium, opiates, opium poppy, coca leaves (cocaine), methamphetamines and methadone.
  • Schedule III – The substances in this Schedule have less potential for abuse than the drugs in Schedules I and II, a well-known medical use in the United States, and abuse will only lead to moderate dependence. Examples in this Schedule include Lysergic acid (LSD), anabolic steroids and barbituric acid.
  • Schedule IV – The substances in this Schedule have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs, currently accepted medical uses in the United States, and limited potential for dependence if abused. Phenobarbital and many prescription medications are included in this Schedule.
  • Schedule V – The substances in this Schedule have the least potential for abuse, currently accepted medical uses in the United States and very limited dependence if abused. Examples of drugs in this Schedule include mixtures or very limited quantities of codeine and opium.

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Federal Controlled Substance Act

The federal Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. §§ 807 et seq.) defines federal drug charges and the penalties these offenses can incur. Federal charges typically arise when someone commits a drug offense while crossing state borders, or commits a drug offense when coming into the United States from another nation. However, many federal drug offenses can occur within state borders because the controlled substance was brought in from another country or state.

The federal Controlled Substance Act also categorizes controlled substances into Schedules similar to Pennsylvania’s Drug Schedules, with Schedule I drugs classified as having the most potential for abuse and unaccepted medical uses, and Schedule V drugs as having the least potential for abuse with common medical uses.

Federal drug offenses are usually more serious than state drug offenses and can incur very harsh penalties, including longer prison sentences and larger fines. A conviction for a federal drug offense can be a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the controlled substance, quantity of the substance, type of offense and whether the offender has any other prior drug convictions.


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Examples of Controlled Substances in West Chester

Types of drugs encompass a wide variety of controlled substances, including street drugs, designer drugs, prescription medications, medications that do not have a prescription or anything that is used to affect the structure or function of the human body.  A few commonly abused controlled substances are:

Prescription Medications

  • Alprazolam, also known as Xanax
  • Codeine or Hydrocodone with a NSAID or acetaminophen, also known as Vicodin, Lortab or Lorcet
  • Dextropropoxyphene, also known as Darvon or Darvocet
  • Diazepam, also known as Valium
  • Methadone, also known as Dolophine or Methadose
  • Methylphenidate, also known as Ritalin, Concerta or Adderall
  • Morphine, also known as Roxanol or Kapanol
  • Oxycodone Hydrochloride, also known as OxyContin, Percocet or Percodan
  • Oxymorphone, also known as Opana, Numorphan or Numorphone
  • Pure Codeine
  • Pure Hydrocodone
  • Zolpidem, also known as Ambien

Designer Drugs

  • Amphetamines, also known as Black Beauties, Speed or Uppers
  • Benzoylmethylecgonine, also known as Cocaine, Coke, Blow, Powder or White Lady
  • Cathinone, also known as Bath Salts
  • Diacetylmorphine, also known as Heroin, Black Tar or Smack
  • Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, also known as GHB or the Date Rape Drug
  • Ketamine, also known as Special K or K
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide, also known as Acid or LSD
  • Mescaline, also known as Peyote
  • Methamphetamine, also known as Meth or Speed
  • Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as X, Ecstasy or MDMA
  • Opium, also known as Opiates, Poppy or Poppy Seeds
  • Phenylcyclidine, also known as PCP or Angel Dust
  • Psilocybin, also known as Psilocybin, Magic Mushrooms or Shrooms
  • Salvia divinorum, also known as Salvinorin A, Salvia or Synthetic Marijuana
  • Tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), also known as Marijuana, Cannabis, Pot or Weed

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Drug Resources in Chester County

Drug Enforcement Administration – The DEA is a national governmental agency that regulates and enforces the United State’s laws regarding drugs and controlled substances.

Federal Drug Penalties – The Drug Enforcement Administration has information about specific federal penalties, including prison sentences and fines for possessing, trafficking, manufacturing and distributing controlled substances.

Narcotics Anonymous – NA is a non-profit organization designed for people who have controlled substance addictions to meet and support each other in order to stay drug-free and find resources for maintaining a drug-free lifestyle. The website contains more information and where meetings are held in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic – Pennsylvania’s entire drug act can be found here, with definitions and descriptions of prohibited acts, offenses and penalties for drug offenses in the state.


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Finding a Drug Defense Lawyer in Chester County

Contact the Skinner Law Firm today for a consultation about your alleged drug offense in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding areas of Delaware County, Lancaster County, and Montgomery County. Michael J. Skinner will listen to your side of the case and help you identify any mitigating factors or defenses to have your charges reduced or dismissed. Call (610) 436-1410 for a consultation about your drug offense in Pennsylvania.

Michael Skinner
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