Facing Drug Charges in Pittsburgh? Our Drug Lawyers Can Help
If you were arrested on drug charges, call a Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney who has successfully resolved drug cases for many other clients.
A drug crime defense attorney at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, is ready to fight these drug charges and pursue the best possible outcome in your case.
Our drug charge lawyers have decades of experience and offer free initial consultations. Call (412) 281-2146 or contact us online to schedule your free, no-risk consultation with a drug lawyer near you.
Why Hire Our Pittsburgh Drug Crime Defense Lawyers
You deserve strong legal representation. Some people are reluctant to hire a criminal justice lawyer right away.
But there are various reasons why your first phone call after being arrested should be to a Pittsburgh drug lawyer:
- We Protect Your Rights: You should always invoke your right to remain silent and to specifically request that you want a lawyer present during questioning. You do not want to say anything, however innocent or inadvertent, that could be used against you.
- We Fight for Low or No Bail: A drug defense lawyer will ask the court to grant you low-cost bail or no bail, meaning that you are released on your own recognizance. We work to get you released from jail and back home with your family while you prepare for trial.
- We Help With Administrative Issues: Depending on the charges against you, you might have lost your license as part of the automatic revocation program. A lawyer with our firm can appeal for the prompt return of your driving privileges.
- We Investigate the Charges: Our firm has the resources and knowledge to examine the charges against you and review the prosecution’s case against you. We look for procedural and evidentiary mistakes that could lead to the charge against you being dropped by the state.
- We Gather Our Own Evidence and Witnesses: Our legal team builds a strong defense by refuting the state’s evidence and introducing our own evidence and witnesses. The burden of proof is on the prosecution; our job is to create reasonable doubt that hopefully leads to an acquittal.
- We Can Negotiate a Plea if That is a Good Option: Sometimes, a client prefers to plead guilty to a lesser charge (and lighter penalties) with a plea deal. This might be a good option, depending on the charges against you and if you have a previously clean record.
Our Pittsburgh drug crime lawyers will be upfront with you. We give you all the information you need to make an informed decision about your case.
Western PA’s Only Certified Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer
Our firm’s managing partner Michael V. Worgul is certified as a Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He’s the only drug crime attorney in Western Pennsylvania with this credential. This certification demonstrates attorney Worgul has achieved a high level of knowledge, skills, and experience.
While much of what our drug lawyers do is preparing and negotiating during criminal cases, we’re always trial-ready.
Every attorney at our firm is a trial lawyer who is comfortable in the courtroom.
Our Drug Crime Lawyers Have a History of Successful Results
Even if it’s a misdemeanor drug charge, all drug crimes could be a disaster for you and your loved ones. Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys have a proven track record of success for people facing drug charges. Look at our results for drug charges. Our drug defense attorneys help people avoid charges, get charges reduced, and obtain lenient sentences when a conviction is unavoidable.
What Our Clients Say About Us
See what Donna had to say about us on Avvo:
“My son was arrested with several drug-related charges while in a special program for prior charges. I contacted Michael Worgul’s Law Firm. He immediately went to consult with my son, who was in jail. It was quite a complex situation, and he and his associates went right to work with the DA and police. At the preliminary hearing, he got all but one charge dropped and got my son a good plea agreement with minimum jail time. I was very impressed with his concern for my son and his case.”
“Great law firm highly recommend, got 30 felony drug charges dropped down to criminal conspiracy. Definitely easy, knowledgeable, and very helpful to talk to through the whole process. If you ever need a criminal defense attorney, these are the guys you want to have your back and beat the case.”
Our Defense Attorneys Handle All Pennsylvania Drug Crimes
You will likely be charged with a misdemeanor offense if you possess a small amount of a controlled substance. However, if you are arrested for manufacturing, delivering, or possessing a controlled substance with the intent to deliver or sell it, you will face felony charges.
Most drug crimes and penalties are defined in 35 Pa. Code §780-113, including:
- Possession of Steroids: While steroids have many medical uses, they’re illegal to possess without a valid prescription. A prosecutor can charge you with a crime if you’re found with steroids illegally. Possession of more than 30 doses of an anabolic steroid is a misdemeanor.
- Possession of Cocaine: If you’re caught with cocaine for your personal use, a prosecutor can charge you with a misdemeanor. You will be charged with a felony for manufacturing or delivering cocaine with intent to deliver or sell.
- Possession of Heroin: Law enforcement agencies take the possession and sale of heroin very seriously, particularly as opioid abuse has reached epic proportions. If police find you with even the smallest amount of heroin, you’ll face criminal charges.
- MDMA, Meth, and PCP: Meth, PCP, and MDMA, better known as ecstasy, are popular party drugs. If the police find you with a small amount of these drugs, you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor.
- Schedule I and II Drugs: Schedule I drugs are unlawful to possess because they have the highest potential for addiction, abuse and have no accepted medical purpose (medical cannabis is the exception). Examples of Schedule I drugs include heroin, marijuana, LSD, and MDMA.Schedule II drugs also have a high potential for abuse but have some accepted medical uses. You can legally possess Schedule II drugs such as OxyContin, Demerol, fentanyl, Adderall, and methadone, with a prescription. Possession of small quantities of Schedule I or II narcotics is a misdemeanor, while manufacturing, delivery, or possession with the intent to deliver is a felony.
- Schedule III and IV Drugs: Schedule III drugs are considered moderately dangerous and have accepted medical uses. Many are available with a prescription, such as Vicodin, testosterone, Tylenol with codeine, and anabolic steroids.Schedule IV drugs are less dangerous and have a low potential for abuse. They’re also available by prescription and include Xanax, Valium, Ambien, Ativan, and Darvocet. Possession of these substances is a misdemeanor.
- Schedule V Drugs: Schedule V drugs have the lowest potential for abuse and legitimate medical uses. These include over-the-counter drugs with small amounts of codeine. Possession of a Schedule V drug is a misdemeanor, though manufacturing, distribution, or possession with the intent to distribute is a felony.
- Possession or Sale of Legal Precursor Chemicals: Certain chemicals are commonly used to make illegal drugs. You can buy and sell these chemicals lawfully, but they’re heavily regulated. If the police find you in unlawful possession of a precursor chemical, you’ll face a misdemeanor or felony charge. The level of the charge depends on your criminal record and the type of chemical.
- Drug Conspiracy: It’s a crime to work with one or more people to plan to commit a drug offense. If the police have evidence you partnered with others to manufacture, possess, transport, or sell drugs, you could be arrested on drug conspiracy charges. Penalties include imprisonment, fines, and driver’s license revocation.
- Smuggling and Importation of Drugs: Drugs are often manufactured in other countries and smuggled into the U.S. It is a felony to unlawfully bring controlled substances into the country.
- Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID): Being in control of illegal drugs with the intent to deliver or distribute them is called PWID and is a serious crime. You’ll always face a felony unless the offense is related to a Schedule V drug, in which case it’s a misdemeanor.
- Delivery of a Controlled Substance: A prosecutor can charge you with delivering a controlled substance if there’s evidence you passed an illegal drug into another person’s control. Prosecutors often charge this crime as a felony.
- Misbranding of a Controlled Substance: If the prosecution has evidence you possessed or sold a drug with a misleading or false label, it can charge you with a misdemeanor. It’s illegal to misbrand a controlled substance or sell it without adequate warnings or directions. You could be charged with a felony.
- Acquiring a Controlled Substance by Fraud: If you give fraudulent information to get a controlled substance, a prosecutor can charge you with a crime. The level of the offense depends on the drug you obtained.
- Criminal Use of a Communication Facility: If you use any instrument to transmit sound, images, or data to help a felony drug offense, a prosecutor can charge you with an additional third-degree felony.
Penalties and Jail Time for Drug Crimes in Pittsburgh, PA
Every crime in Pennsylvania has a gravity score, which indicates the seriousness of the crime. With this score and the number of convictions on your record, a judge uses a sentencing matrix to find the appropriate penalty.
Pennsylvania law set outs potential penalties:
- First-Degree Felony: 20 years in prison and fines reaching $25,000
- Second-Degree Felony: 10 years in prison and fines reaching $25,000
- Third-Degree Felony: Seven years in prison and fines reaching $15,000
- First-Degree Misdemeanor: Five years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000
- Second-Degree Misdemeanor: Two years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000
- Third-Degree Misdemeanor: One year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000
The drug crime penalty schedule in Pennsylvania is confusing. We highly recommend talking with a Pittsburgh drug crime attorney about your possible sentence. Our drug crime lawyers can explain the various factors that could increase or reduce fines and jail time.
You might also be eligible for diversion programs like Pittsburgh Veterans Court.
Additional Consequences for a Drug Conviction in Pennsylvania
There are additional penalties if you are convicted on drug charges in Allegheny County:
- Difficulty getting into college or graduate school
- Ineligibility for federal student financial aid
- Difficulty getting scholarships or grants to pay for school
- Ineligibility or difficulty obtaining certain professional licenses because of ethical standards
- Difficulty getting a job or moving up at work
- Ineligibility for housing assistance
- Difficulty getting approved for rental housing
- Immigration issues, including deportation
- Child custody and visitation issues
- Loss of your voting rights for a time
- Loss of your gun ownership rights for a time
Pittsburgh Drug Crimes FAQS
1. What are illegal drugs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania?
Illegal drugs are called controlled substances. Pennsylvania has a chart that ranks drugs in “schedules”:
- Schedule I Drugs: heroin, LSD, MDMA (ecstasy), marijuana
- Schedule II Drugs: cocaine, methamphetamines (crystal meth), oxycodone
- Schedule III Drugs: anabolic steroids, barbiturates, ketamine, Vicodin
- Schedule IV Drugs: Xanax, valium, Klonopin, Soma
- Schedule V Drugs: cough suppressants with codeine, other prescription drugs
2. What does “possession of a controlled substance” mean in Pennsylvania?
When you have actual “possession of a controlled substance,” you know you have the drug and have control over it. For example, you know you have a drug in your pocket or purse. If you are unaware of a drug in your possession (for example, you loaned your purse to a friend, and she left drugs in it), you may be able to have your charges dismissed or reduced.
3. What’s the difference between actual and constructive possession in Pennsylvania?
Actual possession means you have immediate knowledge and control over the drugs. Actual possession could mean having drugs on your person, in your car, or your home or office. Constructive possession means you’re one of several people who could exercise control over the drugs. For example, if you have several roommates, a drug charge lawyer could argue that the drugs belonged to one of them.
4. What should I do if I’m being investigated for a drug crime in Pittsburgh?
The police often collect evidence and conduct interviews before an arrest or criminal charges. If you think the police are investigating you, call a drug charge lawyer immediately. Don’t wait for the police to call you or ask for your statement. Be prepared by hiring a Pittsburgh drug defense lawyer.
5. What should I do if my loved one has been arrested for a drug crime?
If the police arrested your friend or relative for a drug crime, call an attorney right away. Tell your loved one to remain silent and tell the police that he or she wants a drug defense attorney. We’ll immediately visit them in jail and handle the legal issues.
Our Pittsburgh Drug Lawyers Will Fight for You
We may challenge the constitutionality of an arrest, the admissibility of evidence, and whether you had the necessary knowledge or intent to commit the crime. No matter how overwhelming a drug charge can feel, rest assured that our criminal defense lawyers will fight to keep you from prison and clear your name.
If you have been charged with a drug crime, contact a drug attorney from Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, as soon as possible. Once we’re on your case, we’ll conduct a thorough defense investigation designed for the best possible outcome.