Like most street drugs, methamphetamine, commonly referred to as “meth” or “crystal meth” is incredibly addictive. Once consumed, it stimulates the brain, leaving users feeling intense euphoria. In an effort to experience this amazing feeling once more, users find themselves doing the drug over and over again.
Although meth has been a well-known street drug for a while now, it's popularity has begun to rise in Pennsylvania. This rise has been accredited to its inexpensive nature and accessibility. Like many states across the nation, Pennsylvania lawmakers have drafted and enacted strict laws to deter the rates of meth use, possession, and delivery. As a part of the state's crackdown on meth charges and other drug defenses, very harsh penalties have been imposed upon users and distributors who are caught with this drug.
If you have been charged with a drug crime involving meth, it is important you understand the system you're up against. You should also be aware of the advantages of retaining a skilled criminal defense attorney in cases like this, where mandatory minimums are imposed, and prosecutors are eager to make an example of defendants like you. For the purposes of this article, we will address (1) Pennsylvania's meth laws, and (2) the penalties associated with these crimes.
Meth Laws in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, it is illegal for an individual to possess, cultivate, distribute, deliver, sell, or transport meth. Meth is categorized as a schedule II controlled substance, which means that it has a high potential for abuse and is likely to lead to severe psychological or physical dependency. Due to it's schedule, meth has been outlawed by the state entirely, making people who are discovered with very small quantities of the drug subject to criminal charges.
Simple Possession (less than 5 grams)
In order for a defendant to be convicted of simple possession, a prosecutor must provide evidence that the drug was actually possessed by the defendant. The courts have the burden of establishing whether there was an actual possession (the drugs were found on the defendant) or a constructive possession (the drugs were found in a place the defendant had control over) to constitute this crime.
The simple possession of meth will be charged as a misdemeanor offense. In these cases, courts presume that the drugs were intended for personal use. If it's a defendant's first charge, they will likely face up to one year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
Possession with the intent to distribute (PWID)
The “intent to distribute” covers deliveries, sales, manufacturing, trafficking and transporting under state law. Therefore, the existence of a transaction is irrelevant in these cases. As long as there is proof that a defendant planned on passing off the drugs in any fashion, he or she is guilty of committing a criminal act.
The court will assess a number of factors to seek evidence of an intended distribution. These factors include, the quantity of drugs confiscated, the packing of the drugs, whether or not there was distribution materials (scales, multiple cell phones etc.), a defendant's drug history etc. to justify a PWID conviction.
PWID is charged as a felony crime, and the penalties are pretty harsh, even for first-timers. The severity of the penalties imposed will be determined by the quantity of drugs discovered.
- Five grams to under ten grams: at least three years of imprisonment
- Ten grams to under 100 grams: at least four years of imprisonment
- More than 100 grams: At least five years of imprisonment
Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with any offense involving meth, or any other drug offense, it is important that you immediately get in contact with an attorney. With your privileges, freedom, and reputation at stake, you can't afford to not seek legal counsel. Contact skilled criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento today for help.