This country is currently smack dab in the middle of a drug epidemic. People are abusing substances and becoming addicted to opioids at pretty high rates in Pennsylvania, and many other states, prompting law enforcement to crack down on drug use.
If you live in Lehigh County and you are caught with any type of illegal or unprescribed drug, either in your system or in your possession, you will be exposed to serious legal repercussions. Although many states are implementing a more rehabilitative approach to drug crimes, the state's drug laws are still severe. Just how harsh a sentence can be, however, hinges on a number of factors.
To help you get a better understanding of the gravity of drug charges in Lehigh County, the Lento Law Firm will provide an overview of drug charges, penalties, and programs in the county.
Drug Charge Classifications
In Pennsylvania, drug charges generally fall into the following categories: simple possession, possession with the intent to distribute (PWID), distribution, trafficking, and manufacturing.
When determining a sentence, the court will consider a number of factors, such as:
- The number of convictions you've obtained for the same drug or a different drug
- Any previous convictions for one of the categories mentioned above
- The amount of time that has passed between your current drug charge and your prior drug conviction
- How much of the drug was in your possession, and the quantity of said drug
- What type of drug you had
- How the drug was packaged
- Was the amount of the drug found so small that it could be considered for personal use, etc.
As was aforementioned, drug penalties in Pennsylvania vary based on the classification, the type of drug, and the quantity of drugs discovered. But for the most part, possession crimes are charged as misdemeanors. Cultivation and trafficking crimes are generally more severe.
Heroin trafficking, for example, is the most serious drug crime. If you're convicted, you could spend up to 25 years in prison and pay up to $500,000 in fines.
Drug Diversion Programs
The good news is that there are drug diversion programs available to complete that could drastically reduce your sentence, or result in the expungement of your record. These programs typically require defendants to undergo treatment and other rehabilitative efforts to curb recidivism. Two effective drug diversion programs available in Lehigh County are the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program and the Pennsylvania Drug Court.
This is a pre-trial intervention program that accepts defendants charged with drug possession for the first time. Once accepted, defendants will be placed on supervision, will be required to attend drug counseling sessions, complete community service hours, pass drug tests, and pay restitution. If the ARD program is completed, the defendant's charges will be dismissed and expunged.
Pennsylvania Drug Court
This program specifically caters to felony drug possession with intent to deliver (PWID). It is designed to rehabilitate people who sell drugs to fuel their addiction. Once an applicant is granted acceptance, he or she will be assigned to several phases to complete to finish the program. These phases include attending outpatient drug treatment programs, passing drug tests, paying court costs and periodically meeting with a caseworker and probation officer for check-ups. When the phases have been completed, the felony charges will be dismissed and expunged from a defendant's record.
Lehigh County Drug Defense Attorney
Drug charges should be taken incredibly seriously in Lehigh County. If you've been charged with such a crime, no matter how minor or major it may seem, it would be in your best interest to contact an experienced legal professional. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped people in this predicament achieve justice in the courtroom, and he has the expertise and knowledge to do the same for you. For a consultation, contact him today at 888-535-3686.