Marijuana may be the drug most often used by students at Pittsburgh-area colleges. But throughout Allegheny County, drugs including Ecstasy and acid, as well as prescription painkillers like OxyContin or Vicodin, are bought, sold and used by minors.
No matter what age you are, in Pennsylvania it is against the law to illegally possess or sell or intend to sell drugs. However, if you caught with drugs and you are a college student, you face difficulties that can lead to the loss of your federal student aid or even expulsion.
Marijuana Possession Penalties
The severity of your penalties for possessing marijuana depend on how much marijuana you had in your possession when you were charged.
- If you had 30 grams or less, you risk 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
- If you had more than 30 grams, you can face up to a year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
- You can lose your driver’s license for up to six months for a first marijuana conviction and up to a year for a second conviction.
Student Drug Offense Penalties
Any drug-related conviction can prevent you from obtaining federal student aid or could impact your ability to be eligible for student aid for subsequent semesters or years.
If you are convicted of delivering drugs or possessing drugs with the intent to deliver, you will face Pennsylvania’s tough mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Depending on the quantity of the drug you are caught with, you may be risking years in prison.
A conviction for a felony drug offense will make it difficult to find a good job and will probably eliminate you from careers like the government, as well as those that require professional licensing or high-level security checks.
Furthermore, your college may expel you for a felony drug conviction.
What Pennsylvania Law Says About Student Drug Offenses
In Pennsylvania, it is illegal for any minor or adult to knowingly possess a controlled substance without a prescription from a doctor. If you are convicted of this offense, the penalties will vary depending on whether you are 18 or older.
Steps To Take If You Are Charged
If you, or your college-aged child, have been charged with a juvenile drug offense, your first step should be to immediately hire a juvenile lawyer. Your attorney can evaluate the prosecution’s evidence against you and begin building your defense. Frequently this includes negotiations with the prosecutors to have the charges reduced or dismissed, depending on the details of your specific case.
Fighting Student & Underage Drug Offenses
Because of the complicated nature of drug laws in Pennsylvania, it’s best to have an experienced Pittsburgh drug defense attorney on your side to help you understand the law, Pennsylvania’s minimum sentencing guidelines, and gravity scores. The hefty fines, possible jail time, and driver’s license suspension can be fought, but an attorney can make your case. He or she will also be by your side when you have to appear in court before the magistrate.
If your case is dismissed, you will be eligible to have your criminal record cleared (expunged). This isn’t quite as simple as it sounds, since the charge still shows on your record until your criminal record is expunged. Your defense attorney can help you apply for expungement and make sure you have all the required documentation to get this done.