In Pennsylvania, anyone connected with a drug operation risks being charged with drug conspiracy. You can be found guilty of conspiracy if you take any kind of part in a drug crime that is planned or committed by your friends and/or family.
If one person is arrested for taking part in a conspiracy to sell drugs, all of those who helped plan or sell will probably be charged too. Even if you only played a minor role, your criminal charge will be graded at the same level as those who led the drug operation. For example, if the leader of a drug business selling illegal OxyContin is charged with a trafficking felony and faces 15 years in prison, everyone else who took part, no matter what role they played, will also face the same charges.
If you are charged with drug conspiracy you can be tried for violating federal and state laws. It is critical that you immediately hire a defense attorney who is experienced in handling drug cases.
Drug Conspiracy and Prosecutors
Frequently, prosecutors use drug conspiracy charges as an attempt to convict everyone in an alleged drug ring.
Prosecutors will try to prove that you and at least one other person:
- Agreed to violate a law
- Each of you knew about the agreement and planned to take part in it
- Someone in the conspiracy, it does not have to be you, took an action to move it forward
Prosecutors often use conspiracy charges as a way to go after the leaders in an illegal drug business. They file charges against the minor players and then offer them lesser sentences if they agree to testify against those who ran the operation.
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 conviction, and other elements.
You face a driver’s license suspension of six months for your first offense, one year for a second offense, and two years for a third offense. If you are convicted of drug conspiracy, you’ll have a permanent criminal record that may complicate job applications, security clearances, military enlistment, and more.
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 drug crime attorney in Pittsburgh lawyer.
An experienced attorney 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 the drugs really belonged to you.
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.