What are Criminal Drug Charges?

September 23, 2021

The penalties for criminal drug charges vary based on the type of drug or drugs found, and the pain and suffering resulting from a sale. The idea is that a single user causes less overall harm than someone who supplies drugs to other individuals. Users are seen as victims to their suppliers and therefore receive smaller charges depending on their history. Drugs are classified into five separate groups or schedules categorized by the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). These categories take into consideration the potential for addiction and abuse juxtaposed with their value medically.

What are the Five Schedules Classified by the Controlled Substances Act?

  • Schedule I. Heroin, marijuana, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), ecstasy
  • Schedule II. Cocaine, methamphetamines, oxycodone
  • Schedule III. Steroids, certain barbiturates, ketamine, Vicodin
  • Schedule IV. Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Soma
  • Schedule V. Codeine, prescription drugs

What Factors Determine the Classification of Criminal Drug Charges?

  • Type of drug.
  • Amount of drugs involved.
  • How the drugs are packaged or presented.
  • Possession for personal use versus distribution.
  • First-time offense or repeat offense and if there were any previous related offenses. How close together the charges are. Whether it is for the same drug or a different one.
  • Weapons involvement. If found guilty, the sentence is a minimum of five years in prison.
  • If children or minors are involved.
  • School zones, buses and stops; public venues; transportation or rehabilitation facilities.

What are the Different Types of Drug Charges?

  • Driving under the influence (DUI).
  • Public intoxication.
  • Illegal prescription of drugs. Forging or altering a prescription is also an offense.
  • Illegal sale of prescribed drugs.
  • Possession of drug precursors. Lighter fluid, matches, and cold medications.
  • Possessing paraphernalia associated with drug use. Syringes, pipes, scales.
  • Possession for personal use.

●       Possession with intent to distribute. Getting caught with large amounts of substances implies an intention to distribute to others.

●       Distribution. The sale, import, or transport of a controlled substance.

  • Any involvement in the creation process of illegal substances.
  • Taking large quantities of drugs over state borders and/or moving illegal substances from outside countries or territories.

What are Some Defenses to Drug Charges?

  • Unlawful search and seizure. The due process clause from the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that people have rights that protect them against unlawful searches and seizures from law enforcement.
  • Duress or coercion. If someone is forced to possess drugs by another person in fear for their safety or some other violent threat.
  • Unwitting possession. When someone else planted the drugs and the victim has no knowledge of this.
  • The drugs belonged to someone else.
  • Not actually drugs: The drugs can be sent to a crime laboratory to determine if the drugs in possession of the defendant were actually drugs.
  • Entrapment: When a member of law enforcement or a government agent tricks or coerces someone into committing a crime that they would not have committed on their own.
  • Medical marijuana exception: The defendant will need to show their medical marijuana patient card and/or a note from a doctor; this exemption protects them only in that state. For example, having a medical card for Pennsylvania will not help someone who is arrested in New Jersey.
  • Missing evidence.
  • Interrogation without legal representation.
  • No warrant.

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyers at the Law Offices of Heather J. Mattes Advocate for Those Charged with Drug Offenses

If you or a loved one are facing criminal drug charges, the West Chester criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Heather J. Mattes are here to help. Our experienced team will conduct a full investigation into your situation and provide you with a realistic evaluation of your case. We will fight to ensure that your rights are protected. Call us today at 610-431-7900 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. With our offices located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve all communities of Chester County, Bucks County, Delaware County, Lehigh County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County.

Heather Mattes Map