Drug Charges make up the majority of crimes charged in Easton, Allentown & Bethlehem. Our Drug Charge Defense Attorneys are located in Easton, Pennsylvania and have extensive experience handling Drug Cases. Our Drug Charge Attorneys represent individuals with drug charges ranging from small amounts of marijuana and paraphernalia to Possession With Intent to Distribute kilos of cocaine and heroin.
The prosecution of Drug Cases relies on a combination of lab test results, confidential informants and police searches. A Northampton County Drug Charge Defense Lawyers can challenge Lab test results based upon chain of custody and margin of error. Confidential Informants used in possession with intent to distribute cases are unreliable sources of information and always biased because they, themselves, are facing criminal charges. An experienced Lehigh County Drug Charge Defense Lawyer can eviscerate a confidential informant on the witness stand. Police searches are often overzealously conducted and subject to suppression motions by a Criminal Defense Attorney. Our Northampton County Drug Defense Lawyers have successfully forced dismissals or not guilty verdicts in the entire range of Drug Cases in Northampton County & Lehigh County.
More recently the legalization of medical marijuana and the issuance of medical marijuana cards has provided even more avenues of defense to drug charges. Our drug defense lawyers have been successful in having marijuana cases dismissed due to medicinal use.
In many cases our drug defense lawyers have been able to achieve our client’s admission into ARD to avoid a conviction if they charges cannot be outright dismissed.
If convicted, Drug Charges can carry harsh mandatory minimum sentences but our Lehigh Valley Drug Charge Attorneys have successfully challenged these mandatory minimum sentences and continue to do so with great success.
Our Drug Defense Attorneys Represent Defendants facing Drug Charges throughout Northampton County & Lehigh County, including Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton.
When at all possible we want to be involved in a Lehigh or Northampton County Drug Case as early as possible. As time passes, memories fade or distort and witnesses may become harder and harder to track down. Security camera footage in Allentown, Bethlehem or Easton may be overwritten and cell phone records may be destroyed. An experienced Drug Charge Attorney will collect this evidence before it goes stale. The earlier our Drug Defense Attorneys are contacted, the better outcome we can achieve. In many cases, our Lehigh Valley drug case clients may contact us during an drug investigation, before drug charges are filed, and we may be able to intervene in such a way that stops drug charges from ever being filed.
The sentence for Possession of Marijuana in Northampton and Lehigh Counties, Pennsylvania are as follows:
– For 30 grams or less, penalties include up to 30 days in jail, and a fine of $500.
– For possession of more than 30 grams, the penalties go up to 1 year in jail and $5000 in fines.
Contact our Drug Charge Defense Lawyers for more information.
The sentence for Possession of Controlled Substances in Easton, Bethlehem & Allentown:
– Up to one year in prison, and/or a $5,000 fine first (1st) offense
– Up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine for subsequent offenses
– Possession of more than five grams of crack (cocaine) may be subject to a minimum penalty of 5 years in prison.
Contact our Drug Defense Lawyers for more information.
The sentence for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Easton, Bethlehem & Allentown:
– Up to one year in prison, and/or a $2,500 fine
Contact our Drug Charge Lawyers for more details.
Sentences for Drug Dealing include:
Schedule I or II drugs:
– (narcotic, e.g. Heroin) – up to 15 years in prison and a up to a $250,000 fine.
– Phencyclidines (PCP), methamphetamines (Meth), cocoa (Cocaine) and its derivatives, or Marijuana in excess of
1,000 pounds – up to 10 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.
– Any other Schedule I, II or III drug not included above – up to 5 years in prison and a up to a $15,000 fine.
Schedule IV drug – up to 3 years in prison and a up to a $10,000 fine.
Schedule V drug – up to 1 year in prison and a up to a $1,000 fine.
Contact our Drug Charge Attorneys for more information.
Drug possession cases are often defended on the basis or illegal government action. Because drug possession is a victimless crime the cases rest heavily upon police investigation and the legality of arrests. Quite frequently the police act before they have probable cause and any evidence they seize can be suppressed.
In addition, the prosecution of drug cases often rely on Confidential Informants, this individuals have motive to lie in order to have their charges reduced and this fact is important to highlight to a jury.
Finally, Drug Cases rely on lab results. Lab results are often subject to attack based upon margins of error and errors in maintaining the chain of custody correctly by Drug Charge Lawyers.
The Pennsylvania Drug Statute is called the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device And Cosmetic Act. § 780-113 and is set forth below:
Controlled Substance, Drug, Device And Cosmetic Act. § 780-113.
Prohibited acts; penalties
(a) The following acts and the causing thereof within the Commonwealth are hereby prohibited:
1. The manufacture, sale or delivery, holding, offering the sale, or possession of any controlled substance, other drug, device or cosmetic that is adulterated or misbranded.
2. The adulteration or misbranding of any controlled substance, other drug, device or cosmetic.
3. The dissemination or publication of any false or materially misleading advertisement.
4. The removal or disposal of a detained or embargoed substance or article, whether or not such substance or article is in fact adulterated or misbranded.
5. The adulteration, mutilation, destruction, obliteration or removal of the whole or any part of the labeling of, or the doing of any other act with respect to a controlled substance, other drug, device or cosmetic, if such act is done while such substance or article is held for sale and results in such substance or article being adulterated or misbranded.
6. Forging, counterfeiting, simulating or falsely representing, or without proper authority using any mark, stamp, tag, label or other identification symbol authorized or required by regulation promulgated under the provisions of this act.
7. Placing or causing to be placed upon any controlled substance, other drug, device or cosmetic, or upon the container of any controlled substance, other drug, device or cosmetic, with intent to defraud, the trademark, trade name or other identifying mark, imprint or symbol of another, or any likeness of any of the foregoing.
8. Selling, dispensing, disposing of or causing to be sold, dispensed or disposed of, or keeping in possession, control or custody, or concealing any controlled substance, other drug, device or cosmetic or any container of any drug, device or cosmetic with knowledge that the trademark, trade name or other identifying mark, imprint or symbol of another, or any likeness of any of the foregoing, has been placed thereon in a manner prohibited by clause (7) hereof.
9. Making, selling, disposing of or causing to be made, sold, or disposed of, or keeping in possession, control or custody, or concealing with intent to defraud, any punch, die, plate, stone or other thing designed to pring, imprint or reproduce the trademark, trade name or other identifying mark, imprint or symbol of another or any likeness of any of the foregoing upon any controlled substance, other drug, device or cosmetic or container thereof.
10. The sale at retail of a nonproprietary drug except by a registered pharmacist in a licensed pharmacy or by a practitioner.
11. The operation of a drug manufacturing, distributing or retailing establishment, except by registered pharmacists in a licensed pharmacy, without conforming with such standards respecting sanitation, materials, equipment and supplies as the secretary, after consultation with the board, may establish by regulation for the protection of the public health and safety.
12. The acquisition or obtaining of possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.
13. The sale, dispensing, distribution, prescription or gift by any practitioner otherwise authorized by law so to do of any controlled substance to any person known to such practitioner to be whom such practitioner has reason to know is a drug dependent person, unless said drug is prescribed, administered, dispensed or given, for the cure or treatment of some malady other than drug dependency, except that the council, in accordance with Federal narcotic and food and drug laws, shall allocate the responsibility for approving and designating certain clinics, and shall provide or allocate the responsibility for providing regulations for such clinics at which controlled substances, including but not limited to methadone, may be prescribed, administered or dispensed for the treatment of drug dependency. This clause shall not prohibit any practitioner from prescribing, distributing or dispensing any controlled substance for a period of time not to exceed fourteen days pending confirmed admission of the patient to a hospital or rehabilitation center.
14. The administration, dispensing, delivery, gift or prescription of any controlled substance by any practitioner or professional assistant under the practitioner’s direction and supervision unless done (i) in good faith in the course of his professional practice; (ii) within the scope of the patient relationship; (iii) in accordance with treatment principles accepted by a responsible segment of the medical profession.
15. The sale at retail or dispensing of any controlled substance listed in Schedules II, III and IV to any person, except to one authorized by law to sell, dispense, prescribe or possess such substances, unless upon the written or oral prescription of a person licensed by law to prescribe such drug and unless compounded or dispensed by a registered pharmacist or pharmacy intern under the immediate personal supervision of a registered pharmacist, or the immediate personal supervision of a registered pharmacist, or the refilling of a written or oral prescription order for a drug, unless such refilling is authorized by the prescriber either in the original written prescription order or by written confirmation of the original oral prescription order. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to a practitioner licensed to prescribe or dispense such drugs, who keeps a record of the amount of such drugs purchased and a dispensing record showing the date, name, and quantity of the drug dispensed and the name and address of the patient, as required by this act.
16. Knowingly or intentionally possessing a controlled or counterfeit substance by a person not registered under this act, or a practitioner not registered or licensed by the appropriate State board, unless the substance was obtained directly from, or
pursuant to, a valid prescription order or order of a practitioner, or except as
otherwise authorized by this act. 17. The wilful dispensing of a controlled substance by a practitioner otherwise
authorized by law so to do without affixing to the container in which the drug is sold or dispensed a label bearing the name and address of the practitioner, the date dispensed, the name of the patient and the directions for the use of the drug by the patient.
18. The selling by a pharmacy or distributor of any controlled substance or other drug unless the container bears a label, securely attached thereto, stating the specific name of the drug and the proportion or amount thereof unless otherwise specifically directed in writing by the practitioner.
19. The intentional purchase or knowing receipt in commerce by any person of any controlled substance, other drug or device from any person not authorized by law to sell, distribute, dispense or otherwise deal in such controlled substance, other drug or device.
20. The using by any person to his own advantage, or revealing other than to the secretary or officers or employes of the department or to the council or to the board or to courts or a hearing examiner when relevant to proceedings under this act any information acquired under authority of this act concerning any method or process which as a trade secret is entitled to protection. Such information obtained under the authority of this act shall not be admitted in evidence in any proceeding before any court of the Commonwealth except in proceedings under this act.
21. The refusal or failure to make, keep or furnish any record, notification, order form, statement, invoice or information required under this act.
22. The refusal of entry into any premises for any inspection authorized by this act. 23. The unauthorized removing, breaking, injuring, or defacing a seal placed upon
embargoed substances or the removal or disposal of substances so placed under
seal. 24. The failure by a manufacturer or distributor to register or obtain a license as
required by this act. 25. The manufacture of a controlled substance to a registrant who knows or who has
reason to know, the manufacturing is not authorized by his registration, or who knowingly distributes a controlled substance not authorized by his registration to another registrant or other authorized person.
26. The knowing distribution by a registrant of a controlled substance classified in Schedules I or II, except pursuant to an order form as required by this act.
27. The use in the course of the manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance of a registration number which is fictitious, revoked, suspended or issued to another person.
28. The furnishing of false or fraudulent material information in, or omission of any material information from any application, report, or other document required to be kept or filed under this act, or any record required to be kept by this act.
29. The intentional making, distributing, or possessing of any punch, die, plate, stone, or other thing designed to print, imprint, or reproduce the trademark, trade name, or other identifying mark, imprint, or symbol of another or any likeness of any of
the foregoing upon any drug or container or labeling thereof so as to render the
drug a counterfeit substance. 30. Except as authorized by this act, the manufacture, delivery, or possession with
intent to manufacture or deliver, a controlled substance by a person not registered under this act, or a practitioner not registered or licensed by the appropriate State board, or knowingly creating, delivering or possessing with intent to deliver, a counterfeit controlled substance.
31. Notwithstanding other subsections of this section, (i) the possession of a small amount of marihuana only for personal use; (ii) the possession of a small amount of marihuana with the intent to distribute it but not to sell it; or (iii) the distribution of a small amount of marihuana but not for sale.
For purposes of this subsection, thirty (30) grams of marihuana or eight (8) grams
of hashish shall be considered a small amount of marihuana. 32. The use of, or possession with intent to use, drug paraphernalia for the purpose of
planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packing, repacking, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance in violation of this act.
33. The delivery of, possession with intent to deliver, or manufacture with intent to deliver, drug paraphernalia, knowing, or under circumstances where one reasonably should know, that it would be used to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled substance in violation of this act.
34. The placing in any newspaper, magazine, handbill or other publication any advertisement, knowing, or under circumstances where one reasonably should know, that the purpose of the advertisement, in whole or in part is to promote the sale of objects designed or intended for use as drug paraphernalia.
35. [to be inserted.] 36. [to be inserted.] 37. The possession by any person, other than a registrant, of more than thirty doses
labeled as a dispensed prescription or more than three trade packages of any anabolic steroids listed in section (4)(3)(vii).
(b) Any person who violates any of the provisions of clauses (1) through (11), (13) and (15) through (20) or (37) of subsection (a) shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and except for clauses (4), (6), (7), (8), (9), and (19) shall, on conviction thereof, be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding one year or to pay a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or both, and for clauses (4), (6), (7), (8), (9), and (19) shall, on conviction thereof, be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding three years or to pay a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or both; but, if the violation is committed after a prior conviction of such person for a violation of this act under this section has become final, such person shall be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding three years or to pay a fine not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000), or both.
(c) Any person who violates the provisions of clauses (21), (22) and (24) of subsection (a) shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall, on conviction thereof, be punished only as follows:
1. Upon conviction of the first such offense, he shall be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding six months, or to pay a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both.
2. Upon conviction of the second and subsequent offense, he shall be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding two years, or to pay a fine not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000), or both.
(d) Any person who knowingly or intentionally violates claus (23) of subsection (a) is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding three years, or to pay a fine not exceeding fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000), or both.
(e) Any person who violates clauses (25) through (29) of subsection (a) is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding three years, or to pay a fine not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000), or both.
(f) Any person who violates clause (12), (14) or (3) of subsection (a) with respect to:
(1) A controlled substance or counterfeit substance classified in Schedule I or II which is a narcotic drug, is guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding fifteen years, or to pay a fine not exceeding two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000), or both or such larger amount as is sufficient to exhaust the assets utilized in and the profits obtained from the illegal activity.
(1.1) Phencyclidine; methamphetamine, including its salts, isomers and salts of isomers; coca leaves and any salt, compound, derivative or preparation of coca leaves; any salt, compound, derivative or preparation of the preceding which is chemically equivalent or identical with any of these substances, except decocanized coca leaves or extract of coca leaves, which extracts do not contain cocaine or ecgonine; and marihuana in a quantity in excess of one thousand (1,000) pounds, is guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding ten years, or to pay a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), or both, or such larger amount as is sufficient to exhaust the assets utilized in and the profits obtained from the illegal manufacture or distribution of these substances.
(2) Any other controlled substance or counterfeit substance classified in Schedule I, II, or III, is guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding five years, or to pay a fine not exceeding fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000), or both.
(3) A controlled substance or counterfeit substance classified in Schedule IV, is guilty of
a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding three years, or to pay a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both.
(4) A controlled substance or counterfeit substance classified in Schedule V, is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding one year, or to pay a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or both.
(g) Any person who violates clause (31) of subsection (a) is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding thirty days, or to pay a fine not exceeding not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500), or both.
(h) Any penalty imposed for violation of this act shall be in addition to, and not in lieu of, any civil or administrative penalty or sanction authorized by law.
(i) Any person who violates clauses (32), (33) and (34) of subsection (a) is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) or to imprisonment not exceeding one (1) year, or both. Any person who violates clause (33) by delivering drug paraphernalia to a person under eighteen (18) years of age who is three (3) or more years his junior shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree and upon conviction thereof shall be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000) or to imprisonment not exceeding two (2) years, or both.
(j) Any person who violates any provisions of subclause (i) or (ii) or (iii) of clause (35) of subsection (a) is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding five years, or to pay a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both.
(k) Any person convicted of manufacture of amphetamine, its salts, optical isomers and salts of its optical isomers; methamphetamine, its salts, isomers and salts of isomers; or phenylacetone and phenyl-2-proponone shall be sentenced to at lest two years of total confinement without probation, parole or work release, notwithstanding any other provision of this act or other statute to the contrary.
(l) Any person who violates clause (36) is guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding fifteen years or to pay a fine not
A Lehigh or Northampton County Pennsylvania drug case begins with the filing of the charging paperwork in the District Court. The District Court serves as the gatekeeper for the Court or Common Pleas and generally does not decide guilt or innocence nor does it impose sentences in Misdemeanor and Felony cases.
If the drug charges are felonies, M1 charges, domestic violence related misdemeanors or misdemeanors observed by a law enforcement officer, the Magisterial District Judge (MDJ) will issue an arrest warrant. For all other charges the MDJ will merely mail a summons to appear for a preliminary hearing or summary trial.
The Preliminary Arraignment is the first court date a defendant must attend in a Lehigh or Northampton County drug case. At the preliminary Arraignment the MDJ will set bail. If an arrest warrant has issued, this will occur prior to the preliminary hearing. If a preliminary hearing was scheduled via summons, the Preliminary Arraignment will occur simultaneous to the Preliminary Hearing.
Preliminary Hearings are the first opportunity for the Defense to test the evidence the Commonwealth plans to bring against them in a drug case. While the burden the Commonwealth must meet at this level is very low, it is a critical stage of the defense because it allows for the opportunity to lay the strategic groundwork that may make or break a defense in the upper courts. You should never waive a preliminary hearing in Lehigh or Northampton County without an an experienced drug charge attorney.
Formal Arraignment is the first court appearance in the Court of Common Pleas in a drug case. The purpose of the Formal Arraignment is to inform defendants of certain rights they have and deadlines in their case. If negotiations have led to a favorable plea agreement in your case, a plea may be entered at this court date.
Formal Arraignment in Northampton County is very different than Formal Arraignment in Lehigh County.
Depending on the individual case, any of the following types of court hearings may occur after preliminary arraignment but before a trial:
• Diversionary Program Hearing – Diversionary Programs allow defendants a path through the criminal justice system that does not risk the chance of conviction. First time offenders may be eligible for the ARD program. Other defendant’s may be eligible for Mental Health Court regardless of whether they have prior convictions.
• Habeas Corpus Hearing – A Habeas Corpus hearing, like a preliminary hearing, may be held to contest the sufficiency of the Commonwealth’s evidence prior to a trial.
• Suppression Hearing – A suppression hearing may be held to have evidence illegally obtained by the police ruled inadmissible at trial.
• Guilty Plea – If the Commonwealth and the defendant agree upon the terms of a guilty plea, a plea may occur at any time throughout the criminal court process
In most criminal trials, cases proceed in front of a jury. However, sometimes it may be best to opt for a non-jury trial. Non-jury trials are most often used when the nature of the crime is one that risks a jury finding someone guilty based upon emotion rather than facts.
If the case precedes as a jury trial the judge, the prosecutor and the defense attorney will question potential jurors. Each side, without any justification, can eliminate a certain number of jurors. Another number of potential jurors can be eliminated based on a list of legal justifications. Eventually, through this process, a jury is reached and seated for trial.
After a jury is chosen, the trial begins with opening statements.
Because the government has the burden of proof, the prosecutor is allowed to make his opening statement first. The defense will then have the option of making an opening statement or waiting until after the prosecution rests its case.
Defense lawyers usually opt to deliver opening statements immediately after the prosecution so that jurors can examine the government’s evidence under the defense’s theory of the case.
After the opening statement(s), each side has the opportunity to present its case.
The prosecution must present its case first. During this time the government presents evidence and elicits testimony from its witnesses. The defense is entitled to cross-examine each witness that the government calls. The prosecution must establish each charge beyond a reasonable doubt.
When the prosecution rests, the defense presents evidence to the jury. If the prosecution’s case is weak, the defense may argue to have the case dismissed at this point. If the motion is denied the defense will go forwards with its case.
After the prosecution and criminal defense lawyer have rested their case, each side will have the opportunity to make a closing argument. The defense lawyer delivers the first argument and the prosecution follows him or her.
The defendant may testify as a witness in his or her defense. However, doing so opens the door for the prosecution to attempt to discredit the witness and in many cases allows the prosecution to bring up harmful information from the defendant’s past.
While the prosecution must establish its case beyond a reasonable doubt, the defense has no obligation to present a case. When advantageous the defense may rely solely upon raising a reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case.
After the closing arguments, the judge will read specific instructions to the jury outlining the legal standards necessary to decide if the defendant is to be found guilty or not guilty. The jury then leaves the courtroom to deliberate the case.
If all jurors cannot reach a unanimous decision, the jury is “hung,” and the case may be dismissed or it may be tried in front of a new jury.
If you need any legal assistance in the Lehigh Valley, please feel free to contact us. Our Easton Law Office will get back to you within one business day. Or, just call us now.
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