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Drug Possession

Philadelphia Lawyer for Drug Possession

Drug Crimes are serious criminal offenses. As they break both state and federal law, you can be prosecuted at both the state and federal level.

Drug Possession is the most heavily prosecuted of these drug crimes in Pennsylvania. Hiring a serious criminal defense attorney will be necessary to prepare a defense against both state and federal charges.

Drug Possession Charges

The Federal Controlled Substances Act and the Pennsylvania Controlled Substances, Drugs, Device, and Cosmetic Act make the simple act of possession of certain substances a crime. Possession is the most common Drug Offense, and most possession charges in Pennsylvania come under state, rather than federal, law.

Possession Penalty Guidelines


  • First offense - up to 1 year and minimum $1,000 fine
  • Second offense - minimum of 15 days, maximum of 2 years, and minimum $2,500 fine
  • Subsequent offenses - minimum of 90 days, maximum of 3 years, and minimum $5,000 fine

State of Pennsylvania:

  • First offense - maximum of 1 year and maximum $5,000 fine
  • Second offense - maximum of 3 years and maximum $25,000 fine

Possession Defined

There are two means by which a person can be deemed to be in possession of Drugs. First, is actual possession. This means that the individual has the drugs on their person, be it in their pocket, within their hand, or an extension thereof (such as a purse). Second, is constructive possession. Constructive possession is slightly more complicated, as it relates to the control of the drugs as opposed to the concept of physical having the drugs. An individual has constructive possession of drugs if the drugs are in a place which the individual has dominion and control.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

In most cases, it is the legitimacy of the search and seizure which is the easiest to call into question.  Therefore, you need a Criminal Defense Lawyer who will look into the arrest and/or search and seizure process that resulted in your being charged with drug possession.

For instance, if law enforcement did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion, the evidence could be deemed inadmissible on that basis, severely damaging the prosecution's case, or perhaps even forcing dismissal. Or perhaps law enforcement did not follow correct procedures in search and seizure of your property, an attorney may be able to similarly suppress the evidence. It's also possible that the prosecution may be unable to establish constructive possession resulting from insufficient evidence of control over the location where the drugs were found. There a number of angles from which the police investigation or prosecutorial argument may be challenged, all of which require the expertise of an aggressive and knowledgeable Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Also, if charged with a Federal Crime, an experienced lawyer is essential to mounting a strong defense. The rules and procedures between state and local courts are different thus it is crucial that your attorney have an understanding of the federal process.

This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.

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