Criminal Law Legal Help for Immigrants in Pennsylvania

Information Regarding Deportable Offenses

Under federal immigration laws, temporary or permanent residents can be deported if convicted of certain crimes. Because federal immigration laws are generally geared towards the removal of criminal offenders, the list of deportable offenders is too long to include on this blog page. However, a list of charges that commonly lead to deportation includes:

If you face any of the above charges or any other criminal charges in Pennsylvania and are concerned about your right to remain in the U.S., contact the Harrisburg law firm of Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP.

We understand that, as an immigrant, you face the possibility of separation from your family and a return to problematic situation in your nation of origin. We can draw on decades of legal experience when working to fight your charges and keep you in the U.S.

A key step is to work to have charges reduced to a legal that won’t lead to deportation. We can work with prosecutors, local law enforcement officers and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to this end. We can also conduct an investigation and determine other steps, i.e. does it make sense to work to have your charges dismissed?

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we keep apprised of the constantly changing laws that affect your rights as an immigrant in the U.S. For more information regarding deportable offenses in Pennsylvania, please contact our office by calling 717-233-5292.

Possession of a Controlled Substance in Pennsylvania

Adolescents often seem to have a magnet for trouble. Whether it’s peer pressure or sowing wild oats, a prank that got out of hand or just juvenile stupidity, teenagers can make a single mistake that can affect their lives for years to come. As a parent, you want your child to learn that actions have consequences, but you also want them to have a fair chance to move forward and put the past behind them.

Some juvenile offenses can only be committed by minors, and are known as “status” offenses. These include such violations as minors in possession or falsifying an ID to purchase alcohol.

Juveniles can also be charged with acts that are illegal for anyone to commit, such as:
Drug offenses, from possession or trafficking to manufacturing or cultivation
DUI or driving while intoxicated
• Violent offenses, such as assault and battery, or weapons crimes
Theft crimes, such as shoplifting or auto theft
• Vandalism or malicious destruction of property

Because the juvenile court system puts greater emphasis on rehabilitation than punishment, the penalties that minors face, if convicted, are generally less severe. A minor is less likely to face incarceration of substantial fines, and more likely to be sentenced to community service or to counseling or similar diversionary programs. Nonetheless, the ramifications can be serious and long-lasting. A minor may be disqualified from certain types of educational opportunities, or may not be allowed to work in some fields.

Juvenile offenses may be treated in a number of different ways in Pennsylvania. You may be required to attend a detention or probation hearing, an adjudication and disposition, or a direct file and transfer. There are also Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) opportunities for minors.

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, all prospective clients are entitled to a free initial consultation. Contact us by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292 to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys. We speak Spanish and understand the impact a criminal charge can have on your efforts to become or remain a permanent citizen.

Deportable Offenses

Under U.S. immigration laws, if you have temporary or permanent residency status, you can still face deportation proceedings if you are convicted of certain crimes. In some cases, when the criminal prosecution begins, the judge may also initiate deportation proceedings, and seek to have you permanently removed from the country. You have the right to fight these proceedings, but you want an experienced lawyer to protect your rights. This blog identifies the types of offenses that may lead to deportation proceedings, as well as some basic steps you should take to protect your rights.

Types of Crimes that May Lead to Deportation or Removal Proceedings

As a general rule, most minor misdemeanors or infractions will not be the basis for a deportation proceeding. Traffic violations, including drunk driving, generally do not rise to the level of offense leading to removal efforts. However, the following crimes can make you a party to a deportation proceeding:

    Drug offenses, such as possession, sale or trafficking, and manufacturing or cultivation
    • Firearms crimes, including illegal possession or sale of a weapon
    • Domestic violence
    • Sex crimes, such as rape, molestation, prostitution or solicitation, or child pornography offenses
    • Violent crimes, including assault and homicide
    • Kidnapping

Taking Steps to Protect Your Rights

When you have been charged with a criminal offense as a green card holder, your first step should be to contact an experienced attorney. You will be entitled to a phone call when taken into custody. Use that call to contact your lawyer and request that they come to the police station.

Once you have been taken into custody, you have certain constitutional rights. The police must notify you of your Miranda rights, which include the right to remain silent, and the right to have an attorney present. It is important that you exercise your right not to talk with police. Even though the American criminal justice system is based on the belief that you are innocent until proven guilty, the police will exert more energy to establish your guilt than to prove your innocence.

If you are merely under investigation and the police show up at your home, you do not have to allow them in, unless they have a valid search warrant. Don’t let them come in if they don’t have one. Anything that they see that they can reasonably argue gave them a suspicion of criminal activity will be the basis for an immediate search, and a warrant won’t be necessary.

Contact Our Office

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To arrange a private meeting with an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney, contact us online.

What to Do When You Have Been Charged with a Drug Crime

If you are under investigation for a drug offense, or have been arrested for or charged with a state or federal drug crime, you may be uncertain what you should do to protect your rights and your future. Police and prosecutors can be very aggressive in drug prosecutions. You can feel like the rules are all in favor of the state, and that the language they use is intentionally designed to confuse and intimidate you.

In Pennsylvania, you can be charged with a wide range of criminal acts involving controlled substances, including simple possession, possession with intent to sell, sale or trafficking, manufacturing or cultivation, and drug conspiracy. If you are charged under a federal law, you may risk the forfeiture of your property, if prosecutors can convince the court that you obtained the property with profits from the sale of drugs.

Here are the most important steps to follow when involved in a drug investigation or prosecution:

Hire an attorney as soon as possible—You may view the arrest as a mistake and believe that, if you just carefully explain the facts, everything will be cleared up and you can walk away. This rarely (if ever) happens. Even though you are innocent until proven guilty, police and prosecutors will be looking for anything they can to use against you. They know the law a whole lot better than you, and can easily turn what seems completely innocent into damaging evidence. An attorney will know what to do and what to say (or what not to say).
• Exercise your right to remain silent—The U.S. Constitution guarantees you the right to remain silent. You don’t have to talk to police or prosecutors if you don’t want to. Don’t try to talk your way out of trouble. In most instances, you will only make things worse.
• Don’t help the police do their job—To conduct a search or seizure, police must have probable cause, or must have a valid warrant. If the police come to your home, you do not have to let them in, unless they have a warrant. If they don’t have one, politely decline their request to come in.

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292. We speak Spanish and understand the impact a criminal charge can have on your efforts to become or remain a permanent citizen.

Drug Trafficking and Drug Possession Charges in Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Drug Possession Attorney

Drug charges in Pennsylvania range from manufacturing, possession, delivering, to possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance. In the vast majority of cases, classification of illegal drugs in Pennsylvania follows federal classifications according to five different schedules of substances. In general, these classifications are as follows:

Schedule I: Controlled substances that pose a high risk for abuse and have very little, if any, accepted medical use. Examples of Schedule I drugs are heroin, morphine, marijuana, cocaine, and LSD.

Schedule II: Drugs that have a legitimate medical purpose but are highly addictive and prone to abuse. Examples of Schedule II drugs are opium extracts, cocaine, methadone, PCP, and methamphetamine.

Schedule III: Drugs that have an established and accepted medical use pose a moderate risk of addiction, but are not prone to abuse to the same degree as Schedule II drugs. Examples of Schedule III drugs include codeine, anabolic steroids, benzphetamine, and pentobarbital.

Schedule IV: Drugs used for medical purposes but which are not considered addictive or subject to as much abuse as Schedule III drugs. Examples of Schedule III drugs include prescription medications such as Ativan, Valium, or Xanax.

Schedule V: Over-the-counter drugs are typically classified as Schedule V drugs. They pose little risk for dependency or abuse.

Drug Schedules, Trafficking, and Penalties in Pennsylvania

Since Pennsylvania follows the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in how drugs are classified, penalties for serious drug offenses often adheres to federal sentencing guidelines. As a result, penalties for Possession with the intent to Deliver or Manufacture a Controlled Substance are as follows:

Schedule I or II drugs: A fine of up to $250,000 and up to 15 years in prison

Schedule I, II, or III drugs: A fine of up to $15,000 and up to 5 years in prison

Schedule IV drug: A fine of up to $10,000 and up to 3 years in prison

Schedule V drug: A fine of up to $1,000 and up to 1 year in prison

In cases where illegal drugs are sold within a school zone or are sold to a minor or person under 21 years of age, penalties may double or triple.

Simple Possession or Possession with the Intent to Deliver?

Due to the “war on drugs” and the CSA, conviction on a Possession with Intent to Deliver charge is a serious felony. Depending on the amount and kind of drugs found on you, the prosecutor may charge you with a more serious drug crime when a simple possession charge is more appropriate. Here, a number of legal issues must be considered – did the police have reasonable suspicion to pull you over; did they have probable cause to search you; is there a good reason to question whether the drugs belong to you; is there any reliable proof to establish the claim that you intended to sell the drugs in question?

Contact Harrisburg Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys

If you’ve been arrested on a drug charge, contact Harrisburg drug crimes defense attorneys at Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP. We can evaluate your case and discuss the options available to you during a confidential consultation protected by the attorney-client privilege – even if you don’t decide to hire us to represent you. Call today and learn how we can help you –

Drug Possession Penalties in Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, PA Drug Crimes Attorney

Pennsylvania has a two – tiered sentencing system in drug crime cases. In general, there is a minimum and maximum penalty associated with different kinds of drug crimes where the maximum penalty is at least twice as great as the minimum sentence. Sentencing in drug crime cases also depends on a number of relevant factors – your criminal record, the kind and amount of drugs involved, whether weapons and violence were used, and whether or not you’re on probation. While not all drug crimes have mandatory minimum sentences, failure to understand sentencing guidelines can result in a longer anticipated prison sentence in plea bargain arrangements.

Drug Possession Prison Sentences in Pennsylvania

While each case is different, if convicted for a first time drug crime in Pennsylvania, you face the following kinds of penalties:


• 2 pounds to less than 10 pounds – 1 year in prison
• 10 pounds to less than 50 pounds – 3 years in prison
• 50 pounds or more – 5 years in prison


• 2 grams to less than 10 grams – 1 year in prison
• 10 grams to less than 100 grams – 3 years in prison
• 100 grams or more – 4 years in prison


• 1 gram to less than 5 grams – 2 years in prison
• 5 grams to less than 50 grams – 3 years in prison
• 50 grams or more – 5 years in prison

Schedule I or II Narcotics:

• 2 grams to less than 10 grams – 2 years in prison
• 10 grams to less than 100 grams – 3 years in prison
• 100 grams or more – 5 years in prison


• 5 grams to less than 10 grams – 3 years in prison
• 10 grams to less than 100 grams – 4 years in prison
• 100 grams or more – 5 years in prison


• 5 grams or more – 2 ½ years in prison


• 50 tablets to less than 200 – 1 year in prison
• 25 grams to less than 100 grams – 1 year in prison
• 200 tablets or more – 2 ½ years in prison
• 100 grams or more – 2 ½ years in prison

In almost every instance involving a second conviction, prison time is increased by 1 to 3 years, depending on the drug. Likewise, if a defendant was in possession of a firearm at the time of his arrest, he could face a five – year mandatory minimum, depending on the specifics of the case.

Marijuana Possession Penalties in Pennsylvania

Most marijuana possession charges are a result of a car stop associated with suspected drunk driving or a traffic offense. Consequently, the amount of marijuana found is often less than a pound. However, 30 grams or less of marijuana can result in a 30-day jail sentence and a $500 fine while more than 30 grams can carry a jail sentence of 1 year and a fine up to $5,000. Likewise, the possession or sale of drug paraphernalia – a bong or marijuana pipe – can result in a 1 year jail sentence and a fine of up to $2,500; in cases involving a minor, penalties double.

Contact Harrisburg Drug Offenses Attorneys at Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP

If you’ve been arrested on drug charges – even if it’s a small amount of marijuana – contact Harrisburg drug possession lawyers at Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP today. If convicted, you could face time in jail, an expensive fine, and a permanent criminal record. Call today to learn how we can help you.

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