By a Philadelphia PA Criminal Defense Lawyer
How much time in jail do you face if convicted of possession or possession with intent to deliver in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania?
- It depends on the amount of drugs and type of drugs found on the defendant.
- Usually, larger quantities of drugs and higher level categories of drugs result in more serious consequences in Philadelphia drug cases.
- The punishment for Simple Possession is also more serious than Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID)
See detailed discussion of Simple Possession and PWID below from our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers answering a drug related question.
Question: Are there different punishments for drug convictions? My daughter and her friend were arrested for having drugs. My daughter had marijuana on her and her friend had heroin on her. My daughter said that they are also being charged with selling drugs. If my daughter and her friend are convicted, do they get the same punishment?
Answer: I would need more information from your daughter regarding the amount of drugs that were found on her and what was she charged with to fully answer your question. However, I will generally explain Philadelphia criminal law regarding 2 common drug charges: Simple Possession and Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID).
What is the Difference Between Simple Possession and Possession with Intent to Deliver?
- Simple Possession is when drugs or controlled substances are found on the person, i.e., in their pocket, shoes, socks or are found in a place one has control over such as their home or car.
- Possession with Intent to Deliver is when one possesses drugs or controlled substances and intends to sell or distribute them.
What Does the Commonwealth Have to prove?
Possession of Controlled Substance (PCS)
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania must prove:
- the item is a controlled substance (i.e., drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, prescription drug without an authorized prescription, etc.),
- the defendant actually possessed the item, and
- the defendant knew or was aware of the item and knew that it was a controlled substance.
Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID)
The Commonwealth must prove:
- the item is a controlled substance (i.e., marijuana, crack, cocaine, heroin, prescription drug without an authorized prescription, etc.),
- the defendant actually possessed the item,
- the defendant knew or was aware of the item and knew that it was a controlled substance, and
- the defendant possessed the item with the specific intent to deliver the item to another person or use the item to manufacture a controlled substance.
If Convicted, What are the Punishments?
The punishment for possession of drugs depends on the type of drugs and the amount of drugs. The more drugs or the more serious type of drugs found on you, the greater the consequence.
For instance, if a defendant is found guilty of possession of 2 pounds of marijuana, they face 1 year in prison if it is their first offense and 2 years if they have a prior drug offense. However, if the defendant is found guilty of possessing more than 10 pounds of marijuana, they face 3 years in prison for their first offense and 4 years if they have a prior drug offense.
For higher level or higher category drugs, the punishment is more severe for the first offense. If a defendant is found guilty of possessing 1 and up to 5 grams of narcotics, such as heroin, they face 2 years in prison for their first offense and 3 years if they have a prior drug offense.
In addition, the punishment for PWID is also more serious than possession, i.e., longer jail time.
Talk to a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer
It is important to know that even though the police found drugs on your daughter and her friend doesn’t necessarily mean that she will be convicted. If the police illegally searched and seized the drugs from them, we may be able to file a motion to suppress the drug evidence and then a motion to dismiss the charges.
Again, I would need more details about the circumstances, i.e., where were your daughter and her friend? Were they stopped by the police while they were in a car? Were they hanging out on the street?
Let’s assume your daughter and her friend were just hanging out at a neighborhood park. In order for the police to stop them, the police must have reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot. When stopped, the police officer can question them and pat them down. For instance, the police saw your daughter give something to another individual and vice versa. In other words, it looked like a drug exchange. Then that would give the police officer reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot. However, if the police saw no exchange and there were no other circumstances that would give the officer reasonable suspicion, then the police officer cannot stop them and pat them down.
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