Answer: Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver (PWID) is a serious charge. Under Pennsylvania criminal law, convictions for drug dealing or trafficking will result in mandatory minimum sentences. A potential mandatory minimum sentence varies and depends on the circumstances, such as:
- the type of drugs involved,
- the amount of drugs involved,
- whether another person died, and
- the defendant’s prior record for drug dealing or trafficking.
For instance, a Philadelphia resident with a prior criminal record for drug dealing is arrested and charged with PWID 12 grams of cocaine or crack. Due to Pennsylvania’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws, the required minimum prison sentence is 5 years. Read more about drug sentencing laws in Philadelphia drug cases.
In addition, certain aggravating factors may be alleged in the case, such as drug dealing in or near a school zone or drug dealing while in possession of a firearm. These factors can result in longer mandatory prison sentences.
Currently, the law with respect to these aggravating factors is unsettled due to a recent United States Supreme Court case which held that any aggravating factors that increase the mandatory minimum sentence must be submitted to the fact finder. Previously, aggravating factors only had to be submitted and proved to the sentencing judge. Read more about this important case, Alleyne v. U.S.
Basically, in criminal drug dealing cases in Philadelphia, certain aggravating factors must be submitted to the trier of fact (i.e., judge or jury) and proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Winning a Criminal Philadelphia Drug Case
In general, a criminal drug case in Philadelphia can be won when some legal or constitutional issue bars the prosecution from being allowed to use a piece of evidence, like the actual drugs or the statement of the accused. In other words, a legal issue or violation of a constitutional right may lead to evidence being thrown out in the case. If this occurs, the case is very likely to be withdrawn from prosecution (i.e., dismissed). Therefore, it’s crucial to analyze the circumstances related to the individual’s arrest and where appropriate, make a motion to suppress drug evidence or statements.
In some instances, there may be factual issues which raise enough doubt to win at trial. For instance, police arrest a Philadelphia resident and find a bag nearby. The bag contains drugs and evidence of drug dealing, like small bags and a scale. The individual is arrested and charged with PWID. Here, there may be a valid defense – that the bag did not belong to the individual.
Charged with a Drug Crime in Philadelphia? Call Us for a Free Consultation at (215) 564-0644
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