Legislators and agencies of law enforcement in Pennsylvania continue to use a multi-faceted approach in targeting illegal drug distribution. In recent years, the state's drug problem has been well-publicized, as roughly 10 people die each day in Pennsylvania from a drug overdose. In 2018, state authorities confiscated approximately 52 kilograms of heroin and 37 kilograms of fentanyl.
Between 2015 and 2018 in Lehigh County there were 620 deaths attributed to drug overdoses. Roughly 65% of these fatalities were reported to involve fentanyl, heroin, or cocaine. The Lehigh County District Attorney established a Drug Task Force that targets illegal drug activity. In 2017, they made more than 180 arrests.
Drug Trafficking (§7508)
The potential sentencing and penalties for trafficking offenses are as follows:
- Marijuana: A minimum penalty of one year in prison and a $5,000 fine may be imposed on offenses with an amount of between two and ten pounds of marijuana or between ten and twenty-one live plants. If the amount is between ten and fifty pounds or 21 to 51 live plants, these minimums are enhanced to three years in prison and a $15,000 fine. When exceeding 50 pounds of marijuana or 51 live plants, the penalties rise to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
- Schedule I and II Controlled Substances: Examples may include powerful prescription pain medications. If the amount is between two and ten grams, a sentence of two years in prison and a $5,000 fine may be imposed. If the amount is between ten and one-hundred grams, the minimums elevate to three years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Any offense involving over 100 grams is subject to a minimum prison sentence of five years and a $25,000 fine.
- Cocaine: When the amount involved is at least two but not in excess of ten grams, the minimum penalties are two years in prison and a $5,000 fine. For between ten and 100 grams, the minimum penalties are three years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Offenses that involve more than 100 grams are subject to a minimum of five years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
- Other controlled substances that are subject to these types of provisions include methamphetamines, amphetamines, methaqualone, heroin, and MMDA or MDMA.
Drug Trafficking Involving Minors (§6314)
Adults convicted of engaging in drug distribution with minors are subject to an additional one-year prison sentence. The penalty rises to a two-year prison sentence when it is proven that the offender was acting with intent to “promote habitual use” or if a minor was employed in trafficking activities such as sales or delivery. The same applies to offenses that occur within 1,000 feet of a school or within 500 feet of a bus stop.
Drug Delivery Leading to Death (§2506)
An offender may face first-degree felony charges for delivering, selling, or otherwise distributing a controlled substance drug that results in the death of the user. The offenders may face a prison sentence of up to 40 years.
Defense Lawyer for Drug Offenses in Pennsylvania
Those who have been charged with a drug-related offense are strongly encouraged to seek experienced legal representation. Attorney Joseph D. Lento understands that having a conviction on your criminal record may potentially result in harsh long-term consequences. To discuss the details of your case contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.