Possession of a controlled substance is not a crime when a doctor has prescribed the substance to the person who possesses it or when the substance is used for legitimate scientific research. However, possession of a controlled substance may be illegal when an individual possesses or supplies the drugs without legal permission. 

In Philadelphia, the laws related to drug possession are strict, and the penalties may vary depending on the substance that you possess. If you have been charged with a drug-related crime, it is important to understand the local drug laws and penalties. 

Drug Laws in Philadelphia

The penalties for drug crimes often depend on the classification of the drug. All drugs are classified into five categories or schedules. How a drug is classified generally depends on the severity and the level of abuse related to that substance. The first category or schedule includes the most dangerous drugs, and Schedule I drug crimes carry the strictest penalties. On the other hand, Schedule V substances are the least dangerous drugs. Even though there may be fewer penalties for drug charges relating to Schedule V substances, you should still contact a Philadelphia drug lawyer for legal help if you face any charges. An experienced lawyer can advise you on what you should do and how you can fight the criminal charges. 

  • Schedule I: These drugs may include marijuana, heroin, LSD, and peyote.
  • Schedule II: These drugs may include methadone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and fentanyl.
  • Schedule III: These drugs may include ketamine, anabolic steroids, Vicodin, and other prescribed painkillers.
  • Schedule IV: These drugs may include Ativan, Valium, and Xanax. These are mostly prescribed by doctors and considered safe to use. 
  • Schedule V: These may include cough medicines or drugs with low levels of codeine, which are generally safe to use.

Penalties for Drug Crimes

The general rule is that there are higher penalties for drugs that are considered to be more dangerous. The penalties for each drug offense may depend on different factors. For example, there will be higher penalties for manufacturing and distributing these drugs compared to penalties exclusively relating to possession. Based on the classification, these are some of the possible penalties for drug crimes: 

  •     First-degree crime: First-degree crimes are often the most serious and carry the heftiest penalties. A person who is involved in large-scale drug distribution may be charged with a first-degree crime. If convicted, an individual may face up to 20 years in jail and monetary fines of up to $200,000.
  •     Second-degree crime: Second-degree crimes may include offenses such as small-scale drug distribution. If convicted, an individual may incur a monetary fine of up to $150,000 and up to 10 years in jail. 
  •     Third-degree crime: Possession of drugs of Schedule I, II, III, and IV may qualify as third-degree criminal offenses. A person who is convicted of a third-degree drug crime may have to pay a fine of up to $35,000 and spend up to five years in jail. The exact penalty may depend on the type of drug or schedule.
  •     Fourth-degree crime: Possession of Schedule V substances is generally a fourth-degree criminal offense. If you own Schedule V drugs without a legal prescription, you may be charged with a $15,000 fine or face up to 18 months in prison.
  •     Disorderly person crime: These types of crimes are generally determined to be the least serious and have less severe penalties than other categories of crimes. For example, possessing 50 grams or less of marijuana may fall under this type of crime. If convicted on a disorderly person charge, an individual may face up to a $1,500 fine and up to six months’ imprisonment. 

It is also important to note that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a crime. It is a serious offense, and the penalties can be extremely strict. If you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you should consult a DUI lawyer to help you navigate the legal procedure. In some cases, you may have to complete a probation period that can last one or three years. 

Should you consult a legal professional for a drug crime?

Drug-related crimes can have serious implications and may affect your whole life. You may lose out on employment and various other opportunities because of these crimes. Whether you are guilty or not, it is advisable to get in touch with an experienced criminal lawyer. Experienced lawyers will have a strong understanding of the law and can help you fight the criminal charges you face. They are knowledgeable about the legal system and can help you achieve the most favorable result possible. A minor mistake in the process can land you in jail. This is why it is so important to seek help from a criminal attorney. 

In some cases, a legal professional can help you to get your criminal charges dismissed. However, it is important for you to invest sufficient time in finding the right criminal defense lawyer. You can ask your friends and family members for references. 

If you cannot find any personal references, you can search online to find potential criminal lawyers. When you review their websites, you will have the option to read about their services and go through their testimonials. Before you choose a lawyer, you should ask them whether they have handled similar cases in the past.

There are many different types of crimes, and it is important to ensure that the Philadelphia criminal Lawyer you choose has experience with this specific drug crime. If they do not have experience handling similar cases, you should look for other leads. You should also inquire about their fees and rates, communication style, and availability before you start working with them.