In Pennsylvania, using a “communication facility,” an instrument that transmits sounds, images or data, to commit, cause or facilitate a drug deal, can lead to your arrest. This means that you can be charged for using your cell phone or landline to communicate by phone, text message, or email to commit a felony drug crime.
Under federal law, each time you used a communication facility to further a drug crime you can be charged with a separate offense. Every separate phone call or text will be an additional charge that prosecutors file against you. If you are arrested, it is critical that you hire a criminal defense attorney who has detailed knowledge of drug laws and handling telecommunications evidence.
How a Criminal Use of a Communication Facility Charge Can Impact Your Life
The penalties for drug offenses in Pennsylvania depend on factors that include the amount and type of drugs involved, whether a weapon was present, prior convictions on your record, and other elements. The maximum penalty under Pennsylvania law for criminal use of a communication facility is seven (7) years in prison, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
Your driver’s license will be suspended for six months for a first offense, one year for a second offense, and two years for a third offense. You will have a criminal record that can negatively effect your ability to get a good job, join the military, obtain certain professional licenses, or be admitted to graduate school. You may be unable to obtain a federally subsidized student loan. If you share custody of your children, a drug conviction could be damaging to your parental agreement and you might lose some of your rights to see your kids.
Steps to Take if You Have Been Charged
If you have been charged with a drug offense, your first step should be to immediately hire a lawyer.
An experienced drug lawyer will have worked with the prosecutors handling your case many times before. They can draw on their relationships and understanding of the local court system to lessen or dismiss your charges. Don’t talk to the police or prosecutors unless your attorney is with you. Your lawyer will go over what happened both before and after your arrest. Importantly, he or she will assess whether there was probable cause to charge you with a crime. This includes determining if you really made the communications for which you’ve been accused.
If you were arrested for a drug crime while you were in your car, a critical aspect of your case will be whether or not the police had probable cause to pull you over and do a search. If there was not probable cause, the evidence obtained by law enforcement can be suppressed.