Drug Charges

According to the Pennsylvania Attorney General's website, illegal drugs are the number one threat to public safety in Pennsylvania. This is on par with the philosophies involved in the United States' War on Drugs – meaning that if you are facing a drug charge in this state, you are facing an uphill battle full of police officers, prosecutors, judges, and politicians eager to trump-up charges and put offenders behind bars to boost their own public image.

Whether you were caught in a mistake, facing charges excessive for your actual offense, struggling with a major addiction, or are completely innocent of the Pennsylvania drug charge you allegedly committed, an experienced attorney can fight for your freedom and protect your rights. Even if you wish to plead guilty, an experienced Philadelphia defense attorney can help make sure your case doesn't come up against unfair bias and unnecessary consequences.

Philadelphia Drug Defense Lawyer

With over a decade of experience as an attorney, Joseph Lento has come face-to-face with the War on Drugs in various court-related scenarios. Inspired by his experience, Joseph Lento founded his practice Lento Law Firm on the principle of providing personalized service to those who need legal help the most, including those charged with drug crimes.

If you have been charged with a drug offense in Philadelphia and are looking to protect your rights and your future with a customized defense strategy, call (215) 535-5353 today to schedule your free initial case consultation.

Philly Drug Crime Information Center

Schedule of Pennsylvania Controlled Substances

Pennsylvania categorizes controlled substances much like the federal government does: by schedules. The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act of Pennsylvania (35 P. S. § § 780-101 to 780-144) puts different drugs in different schedules based on how addictive the controlled substance is and whether it has a medical purpose.

The least serious drugs that have the lightest penalties are in the lowest category, Schedule 5, while the most serious drugs with the heaviest penalties are in the highest schedule, Schedule 1. The drugs are categorized according to the following:

Schedule V

  • Least potential for abuse
  • Has currently accepted medical use in U.S.
  • Includes limited quantities of substances like opium and codeine

Schedule IV

  • Lower potential for abuse
  • Limited potential for dependence if abused
  • Has currently accepted medical use in U.S.
  • Includes many prescription medications like Valium and Xanax

Schedule III

  • Moderate potential for abuse
  • Abuse could lead to moderate dependence
  • Has currently accepted medical use in U.S.
  • Includes drugs like LSD, anabolic steroids, and barbiturates

Schedule II

  • High potential for abuse
  • Abuse could lead to severe dependence
  • Has accepted but restricted medical use in the U.S.
  • Includes drugs like opium, methadone, methamphetamines, and coca leaves

Schedule I

  • Highest potential for abuse
  • No nationwide accepted medical use in the U.S.
  • Includes drugs like heroin and marijuana

State Drug Offenses and Penalties

The legislation controlling the regulation of drugs in Pennsylvania is located in 35 P.S. §§780-101-780-144 and is known as the Pennsylvania Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act. In addition to categorizing the state drug schedules, the act also defines illegal acts associated with drugs and their related penalties. The following are examples of common Philadelphia drug offenses and the associated penalties:

Possession of a Controlled Substance

  • Knowingly or intentionally having actual or constructive possession of any controlled substance listed in Pennsylvania's drug schedule without being licensed or registered as a practitioner
  • Misdemeanor
  • Up to 1 year of prison
  • Up to $5,000 fine

Drug Trafficking

  • Purchasing or selling controlled substances, or delivery or importing illegal drugs throughout the state or across state or national borders
  • Up to 1 year of prison and $1,000 fine for Schedule V drug
  • Up to 3 years of prison and $10,000 fine for Schedule IV drug
  • Up to 5 years in prison and $15,000 fine for any Schedule I, II, or III drug not listed below
  • Up to 10 years in prison and $100,000 fine for 1,000 pounds or more of PCP, meth, cocaine and its derivatives, or marijuana
  • Up to 15 years in prison and $250,000 fine for Schedule I or Schedule II narcotic like heroin

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

  • Knowingly or intentionally having actual or constructive possession of any equipment or materials used for growing, cultivating, manufacturing, injecting, inhaling, storing, or containing any Pennsylvania controlled substance.
  • Misdemeanor
  • Up to 1 year of prison
  • Up to $2,500 fine

Possession with Intent to Deliver

  • To knowingly possess and have the intention to transfer a controlled substance from one person to another
  • Up to 1 year of prison and $5,000 fine for Schedule V drug
  • Up to 3 years of prison and $10,000 fine for Schedule IV drug
  • Up to 5 years in prison and $15,000 fine for any Schedule I, II, or III drug not listed below
  • Up to 10 years in prison and $100,000 fine for 1,000 pounds or more of PCP, meth, cocaine and its derivatives, or marijuana
  • Up to 15 years in prison and $250,000 fine for Schedule I or Schedule II narcotic drug, like opium

Unlawful Manufacturing

  • The production, preparation, compounding, conversion, processing, packaging, or repackaging of a controlled substance without authorized license
  • Felony
  • Up to 15 years of prison
  • Up to $250,000 fine

Drugs Commonly Involved in Arrests

Philadelphia as a metro area is a major hub for illegal drugs and their related offenses. Almost any drug, recreational or prescription, can be obtained for the right price on Philadelphia street corners. However, the most common drugs trafficked in Philadelphia include:

  • Diacetylmorphine – heroin, smack, black tar
  • Benzoylmethylecgonine – cocaine, coke, crack, blow, powder, white lady
  • Tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) – marijuana, marihuana, cannabis, Mary Jane, pot, weed, chronic
  • Phenylcyclidine – PCP, angel dust
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide – LSD, acid
  • Methylenedioxymethamphetamine – Ecstasy, X, MDMA
  • Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid – GHB, date rape drug
  • Ketamine – special K, K
  • Oxycodone hydrochloride – Oxycodone, Percocet, Percodan
  • Codeine or Hydrocodone plus and NSAID – Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet
  • Aplrazolam – Xanax
  • Promethazine – codeine, drank, syrup, tussin, barre
  • Fentanyl citrate – Actiq, morphine lollipops, percopop

Drug Crime Resources in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act – Read the entirety of the Pennsylvania drug act here, including schedules, offenses, and penalties for the various illegal drugs in Philadelphia.

Federal Drug Trafficking Penalties – Provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), this page details the prison sentences, fines, and other penalties you could face for trafficking in controlled substances.

Narcotics Anonymous of Philadelphia – This is the website for the Philadelphia division for Narcotics Anonymous, a program designed for individuals addicted to controlled substances to meet and support one another in the quest to stay drug-free. Also a good resource for information.

Working with the Best Drug Lawyer in Philadelphia

If you face drug charges in Philadelphia, whether it involves possession, trafficking, or manufacturing, don't leave your future in the hands of a state passionate about the War on Drugs. Contact Joseph Lento of Lento Law Firm to begin building a customized, strong defense to protect your rights and work to protect your freedom. Call (215) 535-5353 today to set up your free consultation.

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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has nearly a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania and New Jersey attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations – the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, or New Jersey should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

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