Both federal and Pennsylvania laws prohibit the possession, manufacture, distribution and trafficking of illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine. If you are caught buying or selling controlled substances in the Pittsburgh area, you can be prosecuted in Pennsylvania court.
However depending on the circumstances of your case, you may also risk prosecution in federal court. Either way, it is critical that you retain a defense attorney as soon as you are questioned or charged on a drug offense. Having a Pittsburgh drug lawyer who is also an experienced federal criminal lawyer can ensure that you get the best possible outcome for your situation.
If you have been charged or you know someone who has, please call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today to speak with a Pittsburgh-area criminal defense attorney who can provide a free legal consultation. We are available 24/7 at (412) 281-2146.
Federal Drug Charges Versus State Drug Charges
One of the major differences between drug crimes tried in federal versus state courts is that generally most of the drug cases prosecuted in state courts are for possession, while distribution and trafficking cases are more likely to be prosecuted in federal court.
If you bring drugs into Pennsylvania from another state or country, your case will likely be prosecuted in federal court. If you are facing multiple types of charges in both state and federal court, your federal criminal lawyer can walk you through the process and help you understand what will happen.
Consequences for Distribution and Trafficking
If you are charged with illegal drug distribution, it means that you have been arrested for allegedly selling or delivering controlled substances. Trafficking is the term used for illegal drug sales and distribution.
Your penalties for a federal drug conviction for distribution or trafficking will vary according to several factors which include:
- The type of controlled substances involved.
- The quantity of controlled substances involved.
- Your prior convictions.
- Whether you were caught on school property.
- Whether you were bringing the controlled substance into Pennsylvania from outside the country.
If you are convicted of a federal distribution or trafficking charge, you may face years in prison. For example, trafficking a Schedule I drug like heroin carries at least a five year prison sentence for a first offense. You will also have to pay a significant fine.
In addition to sizable fines and years in federal prison, you also face other long-term consequences. Having a permanent criminal record for serious federal charges will hurt your employability, ability to buy a house or pass background checks, and much more.
Illegal Drug Manufacturing
You can also be charged under both Pennsylvania and federal drug laws for cultivating or manufacturing an illegal drug. This includes growing marijuana plants, or producing controlled substances such as methamphetamine or LSD in a lab.
How Our Pittsburgh Federal Drug Lawyers Can Help
If you are facing federal and state drug charges, it’s essential that you hire an experienced federal criminal lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights and begin preparing your defense. When charges are formally indicted, that usually means that federal law enforcement feels that it has enough evidence to move forward with your case. Having a federal attorney working on your behalf can ensure that evidence is carefully reviewed for constitutional rights violations and much more. Many times evidence can be suppressed if it has been obtained illegally.