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 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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