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Drug Distribution Defense Lawyer

Distribution stands out as one of the most critically prosecuted drug-related offenses in Pennsylvania. The laws surrounding drug distribution bear heavy consequences upon conviction. If you or a loved one faces such charges, you’ll want representation that possesses both the knowledge of the law and an understanding of local prosecutorial strategies. Enter the team at Chieppor & Egner LLC.

Understanding Drug Distribution Charges

In Pennsylvania, “distribution” refers to the act of delivering, selling, or dispensing a controlled substance. It is commonly referred to as Possession with the Intent to Deliver, or PWID. This can include a broad range of activities, from selling drugs on a street corner to sharing prescription medications.

Under Pennsylvania’s drug laws, the line between simple possession and distribution isn’t always clear-cut.

It’s a common misconception that to be charged with distribution, an actual transaction, be it a sale or transfer, must be witnessed or documented. In reality, the prosecution can build a case around the intent to distribute, even if no transaction has taken place.

For example, if you are found with a significant amount of drugs, even if for personal use, the sheer volume could be considered evidence of intent to distribute. Similarly, the presence of packaging materials, scales, or large sums of cash can paint a picture of a distribution operation. This broad interpretation means that you might find yourself facing heftier charges than you initially anticipated.

Determining Charges by Type and Quantity

Not all controlled substances are viewed equally under Pennsylvania law. The kind of drug and its quantity play pivotal roles in determining the severity of distribution charges. For instance, distributing a small amount of marijuana carries a different penalty than distributing the same amount of cocaine or methamphetamines. As quantities increase, so do the stakes. Large volumes of controlled substances can tip the scale from simple distribution charges to trafficking or intent to supply on a larger scale, each carrying its own set of legal ramifications. Being knowledgeable about the type and quantity of substances in your possession can offer insights into potential legal outcomes.

The Consequences of Conviction

Penalties for distribution in Pennsylvania are severe and can range from hefty fines to long prison sentences, depending on the type and quantity of the drug, prior convictions, and the circumstances of the case.

Some common penalties in PA for possession of different types of drugs are:

  • Marijuana: Possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. Possession of more than 30 grams of marijuana is also a misdemeanor, but the penalty increases to up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Cocaine and Other Hard Drugs: Possession of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and other hard drugs are subject to a maximum penalty of one year and a $5,000 fine. A second offense increases the maximum penalties to up to 3 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $25,000.
  • Prescription Medications: Possession of prescription medications without a valid prescription or physician’s order is also illegal in PA. The penalty depends on the schedule of the drug involved, but it can range from 30 days to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000. The penalties may be increased for subsequent convictions or if the possession involves large quantities of the drug.

Chieppor & Egner: Your Shield Against Distribution Charges

With drug distribution charges being so severe, you’ll want attorneys with a deep understanding of both sides of the courtroom. Former prosecutors Alex Egner and Jonathan Chieppor of Chieppor & Egner LLC bring unique insights, having prosecuted drug crime in Lancaster County, and now they use that knowledge and experience to defend their clients.

Why Choose Chieppor & Egner?

  • Insightful Defense Strategies: Drawing from our experiences as former prosecutors, we craft detailed defense strategies, understanding the intricacies of how the state prepares its case.
  • Local Touch: As Lancaster natives, we understand the local courts, judges, and overall legal landscape, offering clients a distinct advantage.
  • Personal Approach: Recognizing the stress and anxiety that comes with facing distribution charges, the team at Chieppor & Egner LLC provides not only legal advice but also emotional support, guiding you through the legal process.

Frequently Asked Questions on Distribution in PA

When facing drug-related charges in Pennsylvania, understanding the complexities of the law becomes important. Questions often arise about the differences between two charges, their implications, and the legal definitions that underpin them. In this FAQ section, we aim to clarify some of the most pressing questions related to distribution charges in PA.

What Differentiates Distribution from Possession?

When facing drug-related charges in Pennsylvania, understanding the complexities of the law becomes important. Questions often arise about the differences between two charges, their implications, and the legal definitions that underpin them. In this FAQ section, we aim to clarify some of the most pressing questions related to distribution charges in PA.

Can I Be Charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Even if No Money Was Exchanged?

Yes, you can be charged with distribution even if no money was exchanged in PA. According to the Pennsylvania Code, distribution means “the actual, constructive or attempted transfer from one person to another of a controlled substance, other drug, device or cosmetic, whether or not there is an agency relationship.” Therefore, distribution does not require a monetary transaction but only the transfer or attempt to transfer a drug to another person. This can include giving away drugs for free, sharing drugs with friends, or trading drugs for other goods or services. The penalties for distribution depend on the type and amount of the drug involved, as well as other factors, such as the involvement of minors.

Are there Enhanced Penalties for Distributing Near Schools or Playgrounds?

According to federal law, any person who distributes, possesses with intent to distribute, or manufactures a controlled substance near a school or a playground is subject to twice the maximum punishment and supervised release for a first offense. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared the state’s enhanced penalties for drug dealing near a school unconstitutional in 2015. The court ruled that the law violated the constitutional right to due process by shifting the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense. Therefore, the enhanced penalties for distributing near schools or playgrounds in PA are no longer in effect.

How Do Authorities Determine PWID?

Authorities look at several factors to determine if you had the intent to distribute drugs. These can include the quantity of the drug in possession (larger amounts might suggest distribution over personal use), the presence of distribution tools like scales or baggies, how the drug is packaged (individual packets can suggest an intent to sell), and the presence of large sums of cash.

Past communications, like text messages discussing sales, can also be used as evidence. Even without a direct transaction witnessed, these factors can lead to distribution charges.

What if the Drugs were for Personal Use?

Past communications, like text messages discussing sales, can also be used as evidence. Even without a direct transaction witnessed, these factors can lead to distribution charges.

For example, possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana for personal use is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. However, possession of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and other hard drugs for personal use is subject to mandatory minimum sentencing in PA, which can range from one year to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 or more.

In some cases, defendants who are charged with possession of drugs for personal use may be eligible for alternative sentencing programs, such as Drug Court, Mental Health Court, Veteran’s Court, the Accelerated Disposition Program (ARD), and the Drug Diversion Program, These programs allow defendants to avoid a conviction and a criminal record if they complete certain requirements, such as drug treatment, counseling, community service, and drug testing.

However, these programs are not available for everyone and have strict eligibility criteria and conditions. Defendants who fail to comply with the program may face harsher consequences. Therefore, if you are arrested for possession of drugs for personal use in PA, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can advise you on your legal options and rights. Possession of drugs for personal use is not a minor offense and can have serious implications for your future.

Contact a Lancaster County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Facing possession with intent to distribute charges, Pennsylvania is serious. But with Chieppor & Egner LLC by your side, you’re arming yourself with a formidable defense team. Our blend of experience, local insights, and dedication makes us the top choice for anyone facing distribution charges in PA. To discuss your case or seek guidance, reach out to Chieppor & Egner LLC at 717-393-1400 or contact us online to schedule your consultation. Your future deserves the best defense.

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