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, a skilled Greensburg cocaine possession lawyer can mean all the difference in your case.
At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, our veteran drug lawyers in Greensburg 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. Our Greensburg cocaine attorneys will review your case, discuss your options, and will get started on a defense strategy right away.
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Cocaine Possession, Trafficking, and Intent to Deliver
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. It’s described as a controlled substance that has a high potential for abuse by users, and:
- Is currently accepted for medical use in the US; or,
- Has an accepted use in the medical field with some restrictions, since abuse may cause drug dependence.
Beyond its classification as a Schedule II drug, other factors that affect cocaine possession charges are the amount on your person, your criminal history, and the circumstances surrounding the offense. 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 for Cocaine Crimes
A drug’s classification under Pennsylvania’s schedule system, amount, and your criminal history all affect whether cocaine possession is a misdemeanor or felony. Likewise, these factors all impact the potential criminal penalties if you’re convicted.
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 Greensburg
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: The state must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, so any question in the mind of the judge or jury could lead to an acquittal. 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:
- 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.
Legal Help from a Cocaine Lawyer
Even if you believe that your cocaine charges are unjustified, and easily explained without a lawyer, there are statutes, procedural rules, and individual court rules that you need to follow. Unless you have a legal background, these factors present complicated challenges and by making statements without an experienced attorney, you could be doing yourself a disservice by sacrificing your rights.
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.
Contact a Greensburg Cocaine Possession Lawyer for Legal 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. Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys are highly skilled in handling drug cases in Greensburg and throughout Westmoreland County. We have an impressive track record of securing the best possible outcomes and know what it takes to protect you. To schedule a free, confidential consultation regarding your situation, call (724) 834-1275 or submit the details online.