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    Federal Drug Charges in Philadelphia – Possession of a Controlled Substance

    Federal charges for drug offenses in Pennsylvania are very serious, due in large part to the harsh and rigid federal sentencing guidelines. The most common federal drug charges in criminal cases in Philadelphia include:

    • possession of a controlled substance (21 U.S.C. § 844),
    • possession with intent to manufacture/distribute a controlled substance (21 U.S.C. § 841(a) & (b)),
    • manufacture/distribution of a controlled substance (21 U.S.C. § 841(a) & (b)),
    • attempt to distribute a controlled substance (or attempt to possess with intent to manufacture/distribute) (21 U.S.C. § 846), and
    • conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance (or conspiracy to possess with intent to manufacture/distribute) (21 U.S.C. § 846).

    Possession of a Controlled Substance (PCS)

    21 U.S.C. § 844(a) provides in part:

    It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess a controlled substance unless such substance was obtained directly, or pursuant to a valid prescription or order, from a practitioner, while acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by this subchapter or subchapter II of this chapter.

    In order to be convicted of the federal crime of possession of a controlled substance, the government (United States Attorney’s office) must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

    1. the defendant possessed a controlled substance, and
    2. the defendant possessed the controlled substance knowingly or intentionally.

    Related: Philadelphia Criminal Drug Charges, Suppressing Drug Evidence & Incriminating Statements

    Penalties/Sentencing for PCS in Federal Court

    The second half of 21 U.S.C. § 844(a) provides in part:

    Any person who violates this subsection may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than 1 year, and shall be fined a minimum of $1,000, or both, except that if he commits such offense after a prior conviction under this subchapter or subchapter II of this chapter, or a prior conviction for any drug, narcotic, or chemical offense chargeable under the law of any State, has become final, he shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment for not less than 15 days but not more than 2 years, and shall be fined a minimum of $2,500, except, further, that if he commits such offense after two or more prior convictions under this subchapter or subchapter II of this chapter, or two or more prior convictions for any drug, narcotic, or chemical offense chargeable under the law of any State, or a combination of two or more such offenses have become final, he shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment for not less than 90 days but not more than 3 years, and shall be fined a minimum of $5,000. (emphasis added)

    Basically, sentencing for the federal crime of possession of a controlled substance can result in a maximum 1 year prison term. Prior drug-related convictions increase the maximum prison terms. Two prior drug-related convictions will increase the maximum prison term to 3 years, and one prior drug-related conviction will increase the maximum prison term to 2 years.

    Under a previous version of § 844(a), higher maximum penalties were required for possession of certain quantities of cocaine base. However, these maximum penalties were removed by the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010.

    Related: Philadelphia Criminal Drug Arrest News (April 2014)

    Philadelphia Criminal Lawyer Handling Federal Drug Charges – FREE CONSULTATIONS

    If you or a loved one was arrested for a drug related charge in federal court in Philadelphia, please call our criminal lawyers for a free consultation. (215) 564-0644

    David Nenner is an experienced criminal lawyer who has handled many drug cases in Pennsylvania federal court, such as the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He offers a free phone consultation for all drug and gun cases.

    Disclaimer: This website does not create any attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. Our lawyers provide legal advice only after accepting a case. It is imperative that any action taken is done on advice of counsel. Read full disclaimer below.

    David S. Nenner

    "Top Rated Criminal Defense Lawyer"
    (2015-2022)

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