Cocaine Possession Lawyer in Pittsburgh, PA | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC

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Under Pennsylvania law, cocaine possession is considered a serious crime, with even small amounts leading to severe criminal penalties. However, it’s always important to understand that you’re entitled to your day in court and the best possible defense. With potential jail time, fines, and a haunting mark on your criminal record on the line, it is critical that you hire an experienced Pittsburgh cocaine possession attorney.

At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, our veteran drug lawyers in Pittsburgh are the advocates you need when facing cocaine charges. We have decades of combined experience defending clients and working to obtain a favorable outcome. Call us at (724) 834-1275 or submit the details online to schedule a no-cost, confidential case evaluation right away.

Table of Contents
Cocaine Laws
Penalties and Jail Time
What to Do
Contact Us

Cocaine Possession Laws in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania drug laws center on a scheduling system that assigns controlled substances to a certain category, and applies additional factors to specify the type of crime. Cocaine falls under Schedule II, which is considered the second most dangerous drug classification.

Beyond its classification, other factors that affect cocaine possession charges and penalties include the amount, your criminal history, and any aggravating circumstances. There are two possession-related crimes related to cocaine:

Possession of Cocaine

Though the term has a generic usage, the legal definition is quite specific. To prove cocaine possession, a prosecutor must show:

  • You intentionally, knowingly exercised control over it;
  • You knew that cocaine was present in a specified area, and you intended to exercise control over it; or,
  • You had the drug on your person, or you were in constructive possession. For purposes of constructive possession, a prosecuting attorney could prove that the cocaine was in your purse, jacket, the glove box of your car, or in the trunk.

Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID)

PWID is a more serious crime than simple cocaine possession because the acts listed in the statute affect other people. This offense includes exercising control over the drug for purposes of manufacturing or delivering, which may amount to trafficking.

Penalties and Jail Time for Cocaine Possession in PA

The amount of cocaine and your criminal history affect whether possession is a misdemeanor or felony. The penalties for cocaine charges are as follows:

Possession of Cocaine:

A conviction related to even a small amount, intended for personal use, is a misdemeanor. You could be sentenced to a year in jail and a fine up to $5,000 for a first-time offense. For subsequent convictions, you face a maximum of three years’ incarceration and a fine of $25,000.

Cocaine PWID:

Trafficking in, selling, manufacturing, or distributing cocaine is always a felony under Pennsylvania law. The range of potential punishment varies from:

  • First-degree felony, which could mean up to 20 years’ incarceration and a fine up to $25,000;
  • Second-degree felony, carrying a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and $25,000 fine; or,
  • Third-degree felony, with an incarceration term up to seven years and a maximum fine of $15,000.

Other Consequences of a Conviction:

Beyond fines and imprisonment, there are additional implications if you’re convicted of cocaine possession or PWID. Therefore:

  • If you used a motor vehicle in connection with your cocaine arrest, your driver’s license could be suspended for up to two years;
  • Your employment could be affected, since you could lose your current job, have difficulties seeking opportunities, or have a professional license revoked;
  • Your rights as a parent could be restricted in child custody and visitation;
  • If you have immigrant or resident status, you could be deported or be denied for citizenship;

Defending Against Cocaine Charges in Pittsburgh

A cocaine arrest is not the same as a conviction, since the police only need a warrant or probable cause to charge you with a crime. The prosecutor’s job is tougher: they must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This means any question in the mind of the judge or jury could lead to your acquittal.

For you to be convicted of possessing a controlled substance in Pennsylvania, prosecutors must prove the following elements:

  • You knowingly and intentionally had control of an illegal drug.
  • You knew the drugs were illegal, you knew the drugs were present, and you intended to use or control them.
  • You either had actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance. In other words, you had the drug on your person, such as in your pocket, or in a spot that you had control over, like the trunk of your car or hidden under your bed.

Your cocaine possession lawyer’s first line of defense will be attacking the prosecutor’s evidence and raising doubt. In addition, there are other defenses you may pursue depending on your circumstances, such as:

  • Unlawful search in violation of your constitutional rights;
  • Entrapment by police, enticing you to commit a cocaine possession crime;
  • Lack of intent or knowledge;
  • Lack of control over the controlled substance, which refutes actual or constructive possession; and,
  • Other issues that you should bring to the attention of your cocaine attorney.

What to do if You Are Charged with Possession of Cocaine in Pittsburgh, PA

If you have been charged with a drug offense, your first step should be to immediately hire a Pittsburgh drug lawyer. Additionally, you should exercise your right to remain silent with investigators — by making statements without an experienced attorney, you could end up accidentally incriminating yourself.

Even if you believe that your cocaine charges are unjustified and easily explainable without help, there are statutes, procedural rules, and individual court rules that you need to follow. Unless you have a legal background, these factors complicate the process.

A cocaine attorney will have the necessary experience and knowledge to ensure the judge and jury consider the relevant information that supports your defense. Your lawyer is an essential legal resource from the date of your cocaine arrest until to a trial, protecting your rights by:

  • Supporting you during police interrogations or investigation;
  • Representing you at your arraignment and bond hearing;
  • Engaging in discovery to reveal evidence that proves your innocence or contests guilt;
  • Deposing witnesses with information related to your case;
  • Filing and defending motions related to the admissibility of evidence;
  • Attending court-ordered appearances for status;
  • Fighting for you during a full trial on the merits.
  • If you were arrested for cocaine possession 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.

    Contact a Pittsburgh Cocaine Possession Lawyer for Help

    You’re facing more than just imprisonment and fines if you’re convicted for cocaine possession or a related cocaine offense, so the best strategy is to present a solid defense. Your rights are at stake and you need the best defense to keep them. At Worgul, Sarna, & Ness, LLC, we have an impressive track record of securing the best possible outcomes and know what it takes to protect you. We will fight using the strongest defense available to get your possession of cocaine charges reduced or dismissed so you can move on with your life.

    To schedule a free, confidential consultation regarding your situation, call (724) 834-1275 or submit the details online.