FREE CONSULTATIONS

Email or Call (215) 564-0644

    Federal Criminal Drug Cases in Philadelphia: Defining “Knowingly or Intentionally”

    Federal drug and gun cases in Philadelphia are very common. In fact, PWIM (possession with intent to manufacture) and PWID (possession with intent to deliver) are among some of the most common federal criminal cases in the Philadelphia area, including the immediate suburbs (Montgomery County, Delaware County, Chester County, etc.). According to data from the United States Sentencing Commission, drug crimes account for over 30% of all federal prosecutions each year; gun possession charges account for about 10%. The three most common drugs in federal drug prosecutions are cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine.

    Under federal law, in a Philadelphia drug case, the government must prove the following elements:

    1. the defendant possessed a controlled substance,

    2. the defendant did so knowingly or intentionally,

    3. the defendant intended to manufacture or distribute the substance, and

    4. the nature of the controlled substance (i.e., the substance was cocaine, crack, heroin, etc.).

    In addition, when the government alleges a weight threshold that authorizes increased maximum penalties under Section 841(b), the government must also prove the actual weight (i.e., X grams or more). Read more about federal sentences in criminal drug cases in Philadelphia.

    How are Knowingly & Intentionally Defined in Federal Drug Cases?

    In order to act with knowledge or intent as required under federal drug PWID/PWIM criminal law, the U.S. Attorney’s Office must prove that the accused individual was conscious and aware of the nature of their actions and knew the surrounding facts and circumstances giving rise to the offenses charged. The prosecution is not required to prove that the accused individual knew what they were doing was illegal or criminal.

    The phrase “knowingly or intentionally,” as used in the PWID/PWIM law requires the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused individual knew that what they manufactured/distributed/possessed with the intent to manufacture or distribute was a controlled substance.

    Also, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the controlled substance was in fact the specific drug alleged in the indictment (i.e., cocaine, crack, meth, etc.). However, the government doesn’t have to prove that the accused individual knew the substance was in fact, the drug alleged. For instance, a Philadelphia resident believes they are selling cocaine, when in fact, they are selling heroin. The individual can still be convicted of selling heroin, despite the fact that they thought they were selling cocaine. See United States v. Barbosa, a 2001 3rd Circuit (PA) case.

    Related: Reducing a Mandatory Minimum Prison Sentence in a Pennsylvania Drug Case

    Federal Drug Charge Criminal Lawyer in Philadelphia

    If you or a loved is facing federal drug charges in Philadelphia, please call our office for a free consultation. David Nenner is an experienced criminal trial lawyer specializing in drug and gun cases. (215) 564-0644

    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)

    MURDER, Att. Murder CHARGES – Negotiated Significantly Lower prison sentence (Feb. 2022, PHILA)

    Mr. Anderson faced murder and attempted murder charges after an incident in Northeast Philadelphia involving the shooting death of Anderson’s sister’s boyfriend and the boyfriend’s roommate who was shot 5 times and survived. The decedent had previously beaten the...

    Att. MURDER CHARGES – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (April 2022, PHILA)

    The Commonwealth alleged that Mr. Shelton shot and seriously injured a male in a bar in North Philadelphia called Circles. There was video of the shooting which happened outside the bar. However, Mr. Nenner presented witnesses who testified that the person in the bar...

    MURDER, Robbery CHARGES – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (MAY 2021, PHILA)

    Mr. Nenner's client was charged with multiple crimes (murder, conspiracy, aggravated assault, robbery, etc.) after a shooting death occurred at a gambling house in North Philadelphia. At trial, Mr. Nenner successfully presented a self-defense argument and convinced...

    MURDER CHARGE – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (MAY 2021, PHILA)

    Mr. Nenner’s client was charged with murder and gun charges in Philadelphia. The client was accused of shooting and killing another male on Arch Street near the 5600 block of Ithan Street in Philadelphia. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty after deliberating...

    Drug Possession Case – Motion to Suppress Granted

    Mr. Nenner presented evidence that to show that the traffic stop was a pretextual stop. The officer had no reason to pull the car over. The judge agreed and suppressed the evidence. As a result, the prosecution withdrew the charges.

    Sentencing for 1st Degree Murder in PA

    In this article below we discuss sentencing for 1st degree murder cases in Pennsylvania. In later articles, we will discuss sentencing for 2nd and 3rd degree murder cases. If you or a loved one is facing murder charges in Philadelphia or the surrounding counties,...

    Philadelphia Criminal Trials – Evidence Pointing to Another Perpetrator in Drug Possession or Drug Manufacture Cases

    In criminal trials in Philadelphia, one pretty common defense tactic is pointing the finger at another person at trial. This can raise enough doubt to result in a not guilty verdict by the judge or jury that the defendant was not the perpetrator of the crime. Here’s...

    Philadelphia Murder & Gun Possession Cases Increasing in 2021 – A Look at Common Charges & Defenses

    A look at PA criminal law for Murder (1st, 2nd, 3rd Degree), Aggravated Assault, Robbery, Possession of a Firearm, Carrying a Firearm Without a License, Carrying a Firearm in Philadelphia (misdemeanor).

    Pennsylvania Murder Charges, Deceased Person’s Statements Used to Prove Guilt

    Defense Trial Strategies – Excluding Statements That Accuse the Defendant Prosecutors often look to a deceased individual’s statements made prior to a murder to show that the defendant is guilty. These statements may point to a history of violence between the deceased...

    Pennsylvania (State) Drug Charges, Dog Sniffs & Constitutional Law

    Federal and Pennsylvania state courts treat narcotics dog searches differently. So different that the same scenario could result in different outcomes in federal versus state court. For example, a Philadelphia resident is pulled over for speeding. During the traffic...