Pennsylvania Drug Trafficking Laws
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania drug trafficking charges carry some of the most severe penalties that exist for drug related crimes. Drug trafficking charges are considered when large amounts of drugs are found in a person’s possession. Drug trafficking differs from drug sale in that drug trafficking must involve large quantities of controlled substances, while drug sale charges may involve notably smaller amounts of the substance at hand.
Drug trafficking charges and penalties will be determined by 3 separate factors of:
- 1. The schedule of the drug involved
- 2. The amount of the drugs found (and what it is assumed you will do with them)
- 3. Whether past drug convictions are present
Schedule 1 drug trafficking charges will carry the harshest penalties, particularly when large quantities of drugs are found or if the person being charged has previous drug related convictions on their criminal record.
Drug Scheduling In Pennsylvania
Controlled substances are classed into different categories in Pennsylvania based on their potential medical uses as well as their capacity to become addictive. More dangerous or addictive drugs are placed at the top of the scheduling list with the less dangerous drugs being scheduled at the bottom of the list, and the more dangerous a drug is considered to be the harsher the punishments will be in terms of trafficking charges.
Schedule 1 Drugs
Schedule 1 drugs are drugs with no medically accepted use and a high likelihood for dangerous addiction. Some drugs that are considered to be in the schedule 1 category are heroin, acid, ecstasy, meth/crystal meth, peyote, PCP, and GHB.
Schedule 2 Drugs
Schedule 2 drugs are considered to be less dangerous than schedule 1 drugs, but still with a high likelihood for addiction and a possible medical use. Some schedule 2 drugs will include cocaine, opium/opiates, Oxycontin, Ritalin, Morphine, Dilaudid, or Vicodin. When these drugs are medically prescribed, they are often observed closely by physicians as they are known for abuse or addiction in those who take them.
Schedule 3 Drugs
Schedule 3 drugs are considered less addictive than schedule 1 or 2 drugs, and many have an accepted medical use. Some schedule 3 drugs will include performance enhancing drugs such as growth hormone, testosterone, testosterone derivatives, other anabolic steroids and ketamine.
Schedule 4 & 5 Drugs
Schedule 4 and 5 drugs are considered to be the least dangerous in terms of addiction or abuse, as well as widely accepted medical uses. Some schedule 4 or 5 drugs are Valium, sedatives, Codeine, Xanax, or tranquilizers. This includes the generic form of these drugs as well.
When facing drug trafficking charges, it is first important to know what schedule the drug in question falls under as this will greatly determine the charges and punishments that may be received upon conviction.
Pennsylvania Drug Trafficking Penalties
When a person is facing drug trafficking charges involving a schedule 1 drug, they will also be facing the harshest drug trafficking penalties. Drug trafficking charges may be faced if the amount of schedule 1 drugs found on a person exceeds 4 grams, and trafficking an amount of drugs between 4 and 14 grams can result in being charged with a category B felony. These felony charges can come with punishments including 1 to 6 years spent in a Pennsylvania state prison as well as up to $50,000 in fines.
If a person is found with an amount of schedule 1 drugs that is between 14 and 28 grams, they will then face a category B felony that comes along with higher penalties. Being charged with trafficking this amount of a schedule 1 drug can lead a person to face 2 to 15 years in a state prison as well as fines not exceeding $100,000.
Those who are caught with schedule 1 drugs exceeding an amount of 28 grams will face the harshest drug trafficking charges possible. These category A felony charges will come with penalties such as 25 years to life in prison as well as a fine not exceeding $500,000.
Charges stemming from trafficking schedule 2 drugs will carry slightly less severe penalties than schedule 1, although both will be at the felony level. A person found to be trafficking an amount of a schedule 2 substance that is greater than 28 grams but less than 200 grams will face a category C felony in Pennsylvania. This felony charge will come with punishments such as 1 to 5 years in a Pennsylvania state prison as well as up to $50,000 in fines.
If a person faces drug trafficking charges stemming from the possession of between 200 and 400 grams of a schedule 2 controlled substance they will then face a category B felony charge. A category B felony charge will carry harsher penalties than a category C felony charge, and those facing a conviction on these charges can expect to receive 2 to 10 years in a PA state prison as well as $100,000 in fines.
If a person is found to be trafficking more than 400 grams of a schedule 2 controlled substance, they will then face the harshest penalties given for trafficking this schedule of drug. Trafficking this amount will warrant a category A felony charge and if convicted a person may expect to receive 15 years to life in prison as well as a fine of up to $250,000.
The Need For A Lawyer When Facing Trafficking Charges
When facing drug trafficking charges in Pennsylvania it is always important to seek the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in defending their clients during drug crimes related trials.
Our Philadelphia Pennsylvania drug crime attorneys will devise an appropriate defense suitable for your specific case. Drug trafficking charges and related charges carry steep penalties, making it important that those facing these charges take the opportunity to hire a professional to make the most of their case.
White Collar & Federal Drug Crimes
In Pennsylvania today prescription medications are frequently the drugs associated with many drug trafficking charges. With that many typically ‘white collar’ professionals such as doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers are popped by law enforcement for operating ‘pill mills’. These are medical offices, pain clinics and urgent care centers that are solely in the business of prescribing, over prescribing, distributing and selling for cash various controlled substances such as Vicodin, Percocet, Suboxone and Morphine. These can be sold in their generic form as well as by the dozens of brand names.
If you are a physician, osteopath, allopath, nurse, nurse practitioner or physician assistant facing federal drug trafficking charges, healthcare fraud, pharmacy fraud or Medicaid fraud contact our Pittsburgh Pennsylvania pill mill defense attorneys for a free consultation.
Contact Our Pennsylvania Felony Drug Crime Attorneys
To discuss your pending drug crime charges, regardless of whether they are state, federal, misdemeanor or felony charges, with our Reading PA drug crime defense lawyers click here. They have a very in depth knowledge of Pennsylvania drug trafficking laws as well as federal drug trafficking laws.