The federal Controlled Substances Act and the Pennsylvania Controlled Substances, Drugs, Device and Cosmetic Act make the mere possession of many substances illegal. It's an extreme policy for the law to deprive people of their liberty by locking them in jail for carrying a substance for their own use, but that is how our country is prosecuting its "War on Drugs."
Philadelphia Drug Possession Attorney
If you've been accused of possessing narcotics, you're a target in the War on Drugs. However, you have rights, and our experienced Philadelphia drug possession lawyers at Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC can help you defend those rights. We can challenge the prosecution's evidence to seek to have your charges reduced or dismissed. Our criminal defense attorneys will fight for the best result for you. Call us today at (215) 665-1695 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.
We represent those accused of drug possession throughout Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, and Chester Counties, as well as in New Jersey.
Possession Charges Under Pennsylvania Law
It is illegal under federal law to possess controlled substances. You might be arrested and charged under federal possession law in Pennsylvania if you are in a federal facility or otherwise by federal agents. Penalties are a maximum prison time of one year and a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first offense. For a second offense, there is minimum prison time of 15 days, a maximum of two years and a minimum $2,500 fine. For any subsequent offense, there is a minimum 90 days, maximum three years and minimum $5,000 fine.
Most possession charges in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, however, come under state law. It is against the law to possess any amount of any controlled substance, including:
- Cocaine Possession
- Heroin Possession
- LSD (Acid) Possession
- Methamphetamines (Meth) Possession
- PCP Possession
- Opium Possession
It is also illegal to possess prescription drugs if you do not have a valid prescription written to you.
Penalties for possessing any controlled substance in any amount, other than 30 grams or less of marijuana, is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine for a first offense. For a second offense, you could face up to three years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.
For possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana, penalties may be up to 30 days in jail or 30 days probation. You may also be eligible for a diversion program.
Actual vs. Constructive Possession
If the drugs are allegedly on your person, like in your pocket, in a bag you are carrying or in your hand, then that is "actual possession."
If they are allegedly in a place where you have dominion and control, then prosecutors may also say you are in possession of the narcotics. This is called "constructive possession." For example, if police raid the house in which you live (alone or with other people), and find drugs in an area of which you had some degree of control, they may say you constructively possessed those drugs. The same goes for drugs found in a non-residential property or in the passenger compartment of a car.
Philadelphia Defenses to Drug Possession
In a criminal prosecution, including in a drug possession case, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt every element of their case, meaning the jury must believe that, save some far-fetched or improbable possibility, everything they say happened the way they say it happened.
The defense does not need to prove anything, but can show reasonable doubt in the prosecution's case. For instance, if they are trying to prove constructive possession, the defense can show that there is reasonable doubt that you had any control over the area the controlled substances were in.
In most possession cases, the drugs themselves are the primary evidence — sometimes the only evidence. To obtain that evidence, police often have to perform some kind of search or pat down. They must have the requisite reasonable suspicion or probable cause to proceed, and must follow certain procedures.
Your Philadelphia drug defense attorney can show how they failed to follow the right procedures or lacked sufficient reasonable suspicion or probable cause, which could lead to evidence being thrown out and your charges being reduced or dismissed.
Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC | Philadelphia Narcotics Possession Arrest Lawyer
If you're charged with drug possession, you could face jail time, steep fines, and a permanent record that will label you a drug addict to potential employers and educators. The Philadelphia drug possession lawyers at Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC can help you fight the charges. We'll zealously challenge the prosecution, seeking the best result for you if you're charged anywhere in the Pennsylvania area. Call us today at (215) 665-1695 to set up a consultation.