Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC (412) 281-2146

    Drug Crimes

    How to get Drug Paraphernalia Charges Dropped

    Jun 21 2022 in Drug Crimes, Marijuana Crimes, Uncategorized

    One of the most common charges issued in the Pittsburgh area is drug paraphernalia charges. Many believe that an individual must be in possession of an illegal substance to be charged, but this is far from the truth. Drug paraphernalia charges relate to the various items that can be used to ingest, smoke, or shoot up drugs. This means that even if an individual has a pipe with very trace amounts of an illegal substance in it, they can still be charged and face jail time and a criminal conviction.

    Drug paraphernalia charges should not be taken lightly, no matter how insurmountable they may seem. The best way to beat these chares is to contact Worgul Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC. We understand the severity of the consequences our clients are facing when charged with a drug paraphernalia offense, and we don’t want to let one mistake or misunderstanding rouin any of our client’s futures. Contact us today at 412-388-9721 for a free initial case consultation.

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    What Is Drug Paraphernalia?

    Equipment that is used for producing, concealing, or consuming illicit drugs is considered to be drug paraphernalia in Pennsylvania, and that includes Pittsburgh. Things that can be considered drug paraphernalia are bongs, miniature spoons, pipes, roach clips, needles, syringes, baggies, and pouches designed to carry these products. Federal law defines drug paraphernalia as “any equipment, product, or material of any kind which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.”

    Penalties For Possessing Drug Paraphernalia

    Drug paraphernalia charges in Pittsburgh are harsh and often correlate to charges associated with possession of drugs. If an individual is convicted of a drug paraphernalia charge in Pennsylvania they could be facing penalties such as:

    • A misdemeanor charge on a permanent criminal record
    • A year in jail
    • Up to $2,500 in fines

    For those who have been convicted of drug-related crimes previously, their penalties may be higher. The same stands for those who sell or provide drug paraphernalia to any under-age person, or any individual that is three or more years younger than the offender. These offenses can come with penalties such as:

    • 2nd-degree misdemeanor
    • 2 years in jail
    • Up to $5,000 in fines and court fees

    Any individual charged with a drug paraphernalia charge could also be prohibited from obtaining a CDL or they may have theirs revoked if they already have a CDL. A CDL is a license that takes a lot of time and effort to obtain, therefore it can be seriously life-altering if it is revoked or suspended. Others may not be able to obtain certain jobs if they have a drug paraphernalia charge on their record, which may stop them from achieving their future dreams and aspirations.

    Can I Be Charged With Drug Paraphernalia If I Am Not In Possession?

    The simple answer is yes. Even if an individual does not have any illicit substance on their person, they can still be charged with drug paraphernalia if they have anything that falls under the drug paraphernalia guidelines. This is to curb individuals from carrying it on their person to sell to others, or to help deter them from consuming an illegal substance in the near future. Whichever the reason, a police officer does not need an illegal substance to charge an individual with drug paraphernalia. They only need reasonable suspicion. Especially if the paraphernalia smells like an illegal substance or appears to have been used to ingest, consume, shoot, or smoke an illegal substance.

    Contact An Experienced Drug Paraphernalia Lawyer Near You In Pittsburgh

    A lengthy jail sentence and significant fines can accompany a drug paraphernalia charge if not handled swiftly and seriously. Alone, a charged individual will have a hard time navigating the court system and standing up for themselves in court without legal knowledge. That is why it is so important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side through the whole process.

    Many of our clients at Worgul, Sarna & Ness Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC have questions about whether or not they should speak to the police, or how to handle certain paperwork, or how these types of charges can affect their lives in the long run. Our dedicated team of attorneys will answer all of these questions and more. To learn more about how we can fight for your rights, and help you navigate the muddy waters that is the Pittsburgh legal system, call us today at 412-388-9721 for a free consultation.

    Person throwing away drugs

    How to Get Drug Trafficking Charges Dismissed

    Dec 21 2021 in Drug Crimes

    If you have been arrested for a drug crime like trafficking, you’re not alone. Between 2000 and 2018, more than 302,000 people were arrested for drug crimes in Allegheny County. Luckily, you have options to dismiss your charges depending on your case.

    What Is Drug Trafficking in Pennsylvania?

    Before we discuss how to beat drug trafficking charges, we should take a step back and understand what is considered drug trafficking in Pennsylvania. This charge goes by several names, including possession with intent to distribute and drug distribution, but the Statutes of Pennsylvania refer to it as drug trafficking.

    Drug trafficking is the crime of importing, transporting or selling illegal controlled substances. It is a much more severe charge than drug possession. It is usually a felony, and prison and fines are determined by the substance and amount you’re accused of trafficking.

    Here are six ways an attorney can help beat your charges:

    1. Don’t Speak Without an Attorney Present

    This guidance applies to almost any time you are arrested. No matter how friendly police may be or how much they try to get in your head, do not do it. You have a right to remain silent, and this is an excellent time to exercise that right.

    The police are trying to get you to say something that will make it easier to convict you on a drug trafficking charge. And they are good at getting you to make mistakes — regardless of whether you are guilty of the crime.

    2. Know Your Rights

    The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees you a right to protection from unreasonable searches and seizures.

    Under the Fourth Amendment, police must have a warrant or probable cause to search your home, vehicle, or person unless you give consent to the search. If your arrest was made based on illegally obtained evidence, a judge might dismiss your charges.

    3. Build a Bulletproof Defense

    Building a compelling defense is critical. This is the argument your attorney will make against the prosecution.

    The prosecution must show that you had a controlled substance in your possession and you distributed it or intended to do so. You might have a clear path to victory if you can build a defense that discredits any part of that.

    Although each case is unique and requires a tailored defense, here are some common defenses to drug trafficking charges:

    • You did not distribute or intend to distribute the drugs.
    • The controlled substance in question did not belong to you.
    • You were unlawfully searched.
    • You were a victim of police entrapment.
    • You did not have enough of the drug to qualify for a trafficking charge under Pennsylvania law.

    4. Preserve All Possible Evidence

    The police and prosecutors will gather evidence to convict you of drug trafficking. You will likely need proof of your own to beat your charge. This evidence comes in many forms and depends on the defense you choose, but the most important thing is to preserve anything you might want to use as evidence in your trial.

    Suppose you have text messages on your phone that show that you did not intend to distribute the drugs in your possession. In that case, you need to make copies of those messages. You can’t use evidence to get your charges dismissed when it disappears.

    5. Consider Pre-Trial Diversion

    People charged with drug crimes in Pennsylvania might be eligible for pre-trial diversion programs. These are programs like the Allegheny County Drug Court that allow participants to plead guilty to a drug crime and undergo drug treatment or probation instead of facing criminal penalties.

    These programs often have strict requirements, and many trafficking cases will not be eligible. But a qualified attorney can advise you of your best course of action regarding these programs.

    6. Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

    Knowing how to beat drug trafficking charges is different than doing it. Beating a drug charge will involve mountains of legal experience and knowledge. That’s why it’s best to seek help from a trusted criminal defense attorney.

    Your lawyer can advise you of your options and guide you every step of the way as you fight your drug trafficking charge. If you’re ready to get started, we’re prepared to hear from you. Contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, at 412-281-2146 or online today.

    Gavel next to car keys

    What Makes Someone Ineligible for ARD?

    Nov 30 2020 in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, DUI

    A criminal conviction can do a lot of damage to your life. It gives you a record and takes away your freedom if you’re incarcerated. That’s why Pennsylvania created the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program.

    Rather than risk a conviction, people sentenced through ARD diversion programs have a chance to take rehabilitative measures (such as addiction treatment or anger management counseling) during a period of probation and have the charges entirely dropped. You don’t have to plead guilty, and the charges can be expunged.

    But not everyone qualifies for ARD. To see if you’re a good candidate to enter ARD and get your charges dismissed and expunged, speak with a Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer today. Call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC at (412) 281-2146 for a free consultation.

    Who Qualifies for ARD?

    ARD is an excellent option for many first offenders, and people without a criminal history. While the prosecutor and the DA have to approve ARD, it is generally easy to get approval unless you are ineligible for some specific reason.

    The following are the most common reasons people are ineligible for ARD:

    • The charge was not a non-violent offense.
    • You have a criminal record with multiple convictions, one of which was within the last 10 years.
    • You have participated in ARD within the last 10 years.
    • Your arrest was related to a DUI where a person was injured or killed.
    • Your arrest was related to a DUI with a passenger under the age of 14.
    • You have already been convicted for related charges at trial.

    When is ARD a Good Option

    If none of these apply to you, you probably qualify for ARD so long as you apply within the appropriate time limits. Once accepted, you have a second chance to get a clean slate.

    ARD isn’t necessarily easy, though. You have to follow all the guidelines to the letter, pay the appropriate court fines, and stay out of trouble during the probationary period (usually 12 months).

    For many of our Pittsburgh area clients, this is a great option that gets them back on their feet, but ARD isn’t for everyone. Sometimes a better option may be available, or they are ineligible for ARD. That’s why it is so important to discuss your options with an experienced Pittsburgh DUI attorney before deciding on what action to take.

    Work with a Lawyer to Enter ARD

    Determine your eligibility for ARD and get started with putting charges behind you. Call the experienced DUI lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today at (412) 281-2146 for a free consultation. Find out how we can help you get the best outcome possible, so you have the second chance you deserve.

    Man wearing handcuffs holding baggie of red pills

    Arrested in a Pittsburgh Drug Bust? Here’s What to Expect

    Sep 05 2020 in Drug Crimes

    A federal grand jury recently indicted 26 people in a drug trafficking scheme in Western Pennsylvania. U.S. Attorney Scott Brady connected alleged members of the gang, ‘Shot Boyz’ to the scheme as well as a number of violent incidents in the Homewood and East Hills areas.

    This case was a part of a larger program by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, established in 1982 to investigate money laundering and drug trafficking. John Sleasman, the police chief of Latrobe, wrote the bust would drastically cut back on the amount of heroin and fentanyl coming into Westmoreland County.

    While large scale drug arrests are a necessity, they can lead to bystanders being unfairly implicated to a drug bust. This is commonly seen when people struggling with addiction are caught up without knowing the extent of what’s going on.

    At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, our accomplished Pittsburgh drug lawyers realizes how complicated these situations can be and are here to help. If you’ve been indicted, charged or questioned about a crime after a drug bust, call (412) 281-2146 24/7 for a free consultation.

    Getting Caught Up in a Drug Bust

    How do police and drug enforcement officers learn about drug activity?

    The police often receive anonymous tips from community members, officers on the street, informants, and other drug enforcement agencies about suspected drug activities. However, drug charges also result from other ongoing investigations or a “cold hit,” when officers stumble upon drugs or a drug transaction while investigating another crime.

    How Are Penalties Determined after a Drug Raid?

    Penalties for drug-related charges are determined according to a few key factors: the substance itself, the amount of the substance, what kind of activity the person was engaged in (e.g., using vs. selling), and their prior police record. Repeat offenders of serious drug crimes often receive harsher penalties than first-time offenders.

    However, not all drugs are regarded equally. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous and addictive, and include drugs like heroin, peyote, LSD, MDMA, ecstasy, and marijuana. Schedule II includes drugs that have proven medical benefits but are still highly addictive, like cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription opioids and stimulants (e.g., OxyContin and Adderall, respectively). Schedule III, IV, and V drugs are all medications with a much lower risk of dependence, like ketamine, steroids, benzodiazepines, Soma, and Tramadol.

    The length of jail time after a drug conviction depends heavily on the individual’s previous criminal record. Federal law states that simple drug possession is a misdemeanor that can get first-time offenders up to a year in prison. For subsequent offenses, though, individuals may face felony charges and additional jail time.

    As for selling drugs, individuals found guilty of selling drugs face much harsher consequences. In Pennsylvania, possession with the intent to deliver is typically a felony, punishable with years or decades in prison. There are also aggravating factors like selling to minors that can increase the potential penalties.

    Aside from PWID, someone arrested in a Pittsburgh drug bust could face charges for:

    Worgul, Sarna & Ness Can Help You

    At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, we understand the consequences of being involved in a drug bust, even if you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. With our understanding of Pennsylvania drug laws, record of having cases dismissed or reduced, and experience finding alternatives to jail in drug cases, we can help find the best way to get your life back on track.

    Call us today at (412) 281-2146 for a free consultation. We’ll explain your rights, your best options, and how we can help.

    criminal charges for a thc vape pen

    Charges for THC Vape Pen, Dabs & Wax in Pittsburgh

    Aug 24 2020 in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, Marijuana Crimes

    There are a number of ways to use marijuana. But unfortunately, there are also a lot of ways it can lead to criminal charges.

    Vaping, dabbing, and smoking marijuana is incredibly popular, increasingly easy to get for medical marijuana patients in PA. And while our nation’s attitude towards cannabis is changing, marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance in Pennsylvania. As a result, many people don’t realize the serious trouble they face when arrested for possession of a THC vape pen, wax, or other forms of concentrate cannabis.

    No matter the form, if you are arrested in Pittsburgh for marijuana possession, Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC is here to help. We know the law and how to get the best possible result.

    Don’t just accept a drug conviction. Call (412) 281-2146 or contact us online for a free consultation.

    Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Pennsylvania

    You can be charged with possession of paraphernalia for having any item that may be used for ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise using drugs. The law is extremely broad and applies to otherwise legal items. As a result, a legal vape pen used to smoke marijuana would be considered drug paraphernalia in Pennsylvania.

    You can also be charged with possession of paraphernalia, even if you are not charged with possession of marijuana. Furthermore, you can be charged with possession of paraphernalia even if the police did not actually see you use the vape pen.

    Possession of a THC vape pen could mean up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine if convicted.

    Possession of Marijuana Pens, Das & Concentrates

    If arrested for possession of a THC vape pen, you could be charged with possession of marijuana if had a cartridge with THC concentrate or you otherwise had marijuana on you.

    While possession of marijuana is not the most serious drug charge, there are some significant differences when it comes to the concentrates like wax, BHO, shatter, oil, or vape pens.

    For example, possession of 30 grams or less for regular marijuana is a misdemeanor, and you face up to 30 days in jail and $30 fine. If you have more than 30 grams, you face up to one year in jail and a fine of $5,000.

    THC concentrates, on the other hand, draw the line at 8 grams. If you are arrested and possess more than 8 grams of THC concentrate, regardless of form means facing up to one year in jail and a fine of $5,000.

    A Marijuana Lawyer Can Help

    An arrest for possession of a THC vape pen could involve multiple charges.

    You may be charged with possession of paraphernalia and possession of marijuana. They also could file separate paraphernalia charges for every item in your possession. For instance, if you have papers, a grinder, a pen, and an empty baggie it could result in four separate charges for paraphernalia.

    In addition, if you have more than 8 grams of THC concentrate, you could be charged with drug trafficking.

    Prosecutors are notorious for piling on as many charges as possible. Their strategy is generally to “overcharge” people to pressure you into pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

    Hiring a marijuana lawyer levels the playing field. An experienced attorney will challenge your arrest, the evidence, and get inappropriate charges dismissed. They will speak on your behalf and represent you so that you can get a fair result.

    Diversion programs that allow for dismissals and future expungement may also be an option for first-time offenders. With a lawyers help you can know your eligibility for such programs and how to get admitted.

    Contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC

    You might think that your marijuana charge is nothing to worry about. But even simple possession can result in jail time and a drug conviction on your permanent record. Let the attorneys at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC help you get the best possible outcome.

    We provide clients with high-quality, aggressive legal representation, which may be the difference in your case. To schedule a free consultation, contact us at (412) 281-2146 to learn more about how we can help you.