What Are the Most Common Types of Drug Cases That Your Firm Generally Takes On?
At Rooney Philly Lawyer, we handle all types of drug cases, including simple possession of a controlled substance (Knowing and Intentional Possession / “K&I)”, and Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana (“SAM”). We also handle large-scale drug sales and drug trafficking cases, known in Pennsylvania as Possession With Intent to Deliver, or, “PWID.”
We represent individuals who have been charged as leaders, members, employees, or affiliates of drug trafficking organizations. In Pennsylvania state court drug trafficking organization case, the defendant will be charged with the crime of corrupt organizations. In federal court, a defendant charged in connection with the drug trafficking organization can be charged under the Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act.
We’ve had success in getting cases dismissed in the early phases; for example, we’ve many cases dismissed at the preliminary hearing, or have had evidence thrown out after filing motions to suppress. Moreover, we’ve been victorious in defending drug sales and drug possession cases at both bench and jury trials.
What Determines Whether a Drug Charge in Pennsylvania Is Going to Be Charged As a Felony Level or a Misdemeanor Level?
Drug possession charges will usually be charged as misdemeanors, while drug sales charges will usually be charged as felonies. Misdemeanor charges in Pennsylvania are graded 1 through 3, with a Misdemeanor 1 being the most serious. However, simple possession is an ungraded misdemeanor.
Like misdemeanor charges, felony charges can also be graded 1 through 3. However, most felony drug sales charges are ungraded felonies. The type of drug involved in the sale and the amount of that drug, i.e., weight, determine the severity of the potential punishment. For example, Possession With Intent to Deliver for less than a pound of marijuana would have an offense gravity score of 3; in comparison, Possession With Intent to Deliver for more than a thousand grams of heroin would merit an offense gravity score of 13. Again, the type of drug and the amount of that drug determines the potential punishment. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.
What About Federal- Versus State-Level Drug Charges? What Pushes a Regular Drug Charge to Become a Federal Charge?
Generally speaking, a federal drug case is going to be much more serious than a state drug case. In state drug cases, you can have anything from simple possession of marijuana to drug sales involving a significant amount of more serious drugs. Usually, if an individual is charged with a federal drug crime, that person is charged in connection with a major investigation involving an agency such as the FBI or the DEA. Those agencies have most likely been conducting a prolonged investigation, which might involve wiretaps, video surveillance, undercover agents and confidential informants. Federal drug cases usually involve significant amounts (meaning a substantial weight) of serious drugs. As in state court, the potential punishment in federal court is often dictated by the type of drug and the amount of drug involved. Past convictions for drug trafficking offense are also a major factor in determine what the potential punishments are. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are complex, and need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. But, make no mistake, a conviction for a federal drug trafficking offense carriers serious consequences.
Does the Type of Drug Affect the Seriousness or the Level of the Drug Charge?
Yes. For example, Possession With Intent to Deliver (PWID) is an ungraded felony, but the potential penalty is based on the type of drug and the amount of that drug. In Pennsylvania, the potential punishment for a crime, in this case Possession With Intent to Deliver or drug sales (PWID), is determined by a numerical figure known as the Offense Gravity Score (“OGS”). The type of drug and the amount of that drug determines the OGS. The more serious the drug and the larger the amount, the higher the OGS will be, and therefore, the greater the punishment can.
For instance, the alleged delivery or sale of more than 1,000 grams of heroin will result in an OGS of 13, which is very high. Compare that to the sale of an amount of marijuana that is less than one pound, which has an OGS of 3.
For more information on Drug Charges in Pennsylvania, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (215) 279-8400 today.