In most criminal drug cases in Philadelphia, there are two common charges or offenses: Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver. In addition to these drug charges, there are other drug related charges, such as:
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia,
- Manufacturing a Controlled Substance, and
- Creating a Counterfeit Controlled Substance.
Possession of a Controlled Substance (PCS) in Philadelphia – The Law & Elements of the Crime
In a Philadelphia state court drug case for Possession of a Controlled Substance (PCS), the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the following elements:
- the item is a controlled substance (i.e., drugs such as marijuana, crack, 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.
If the Commonwealth via the District Attorney’s (DA) office fails to prove even one of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant will be found not guilty by the court or by a jury.
Improper Lab Analysis/Testing in Criminal Drug Cases
In some cases, a drug charge for Possession of a Controlled Substance can be attacked due to an issue with testing the drug. Chain of custody issues or other issues with evidence and lab testing may show that the substance was not tested properly or a mistake was made, thus rendering the lab results inadmissible in court.
A common defense in a PCS case in Philadelphia state court involves attacking the DA’s evidence that the defendant possessed the item and/or was aware of the item. A person arrested and charged with PCS may be able to successfully argue that the drugs belonged to another person and that the individual arrested had no knowledge that drugs were present.
For example, a Philadelphia resident may borrow a friend’s car, not knowing that there are drugs under the car seat. He gets pulled over for a traffic violation. The officer discovers the drugs and arrests him. The arrested individual may be able to successfully argue that he was unaware of the presence of the drugs and therefore did not control them.
Philadelphia Treatment Court – An Alternative for First Time Drug Offenders
In some cases, and at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office discretion, a first time offender may be allowed to enter a special drug treatment program overseen by the court. Those in the program must complete drug treatment and other program requirements, such as paying court costs and fines. Successful completion of the program results in dismissal of the drug charges, and the individual may obtain an expungement of their record. Many counties in Pennsylvania offer a drug court alternative to drug charge prosecution, including Montgomery County and Delaware County.
Related: Silence is Golden
Philadelphia Criminal Lawyer Handling Drug Charges FREE CONSULTATIONS
If you or a loved one was arrested for a drug related charge in the Philadelphia area, including Montgomery, Delaware and Bucks County or in federal court, 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 both Pennsylvania state and federal court. He offers a free phone consultation for all drug and gun cases.