Chester County Heroin Lawyer
Being charged with possession of heroin in the state of Pennsylvania is likely to result in anxiety, stress, and worry about what your future holds. The state of Pennsylvania has severe consequences for heroin offense convictions, meaning your concerns are justified. Heroin, once the drug of choice in the 1960’s and 70’s seemed to go out of fashion, then, over the past few years has made a serious comeback. One cause of the growing popularity of the drug can be traced to another drug—opioid painkillers.
Pennsylvania is one of several states with harsh penalties for drug offenses. The more serious the drug is considered, the most severe the consequences. The state categorizes illegal substances based on schedules, ranging from those with a high potential for abuse to the least serious. Heroin has various nicknames, including smack, junk and scag, and is often mixed with other controlled substances like cocaine (“speedball”).
These highly effective painkillers were abused, leading to a crackdown on prescriptions which made opioids harder to obtain. In turn, those who were hooked on prescription opioids have turned to heroin to relieve the cravings at a lower cost. In fact, more than two-thirds of heroin addicts were previously addicted to prescription opioid painkillers. Others believe heroin’s comeback has more to do with the fact that the sales of ingredients for methamphetamine have been severely restricted, making the drug more difficult to obtain.
The supply of heroin has also increased, with Americans obtaining most of their heroin from Mexico. Between 2000 and 2009, the land in Mexico used to grow opium poppies has increased tenfold, meaning more heroin makes its way to the U.S., feeding the growing demand at relatively low prices. Finally, Americans are consuming less cocaine than in the past, and the cannabis they purchase is increasingly home grown, with more and more states allowing medical marijuana as well as recreational marijuana.
These factors have significantly increased the demand for heroin. Because the stakes are so high, it is crucial that you take your heroin charges seriously, and that you speak with a knowledgeable Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Having the experienced guidance of a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney like those at Ciccarelli Law Offices, can make all the difference in the outcome of your charges.
West Chester Heroin Attorney
A conviction for a drug offense can change the rest of your life. If you are facing drug-related charges for heroin, contact a West Chester heroine defense lawyer at Ciccarelli Law Offices. Our attorneys are highly experienced in drug-related cases, and they can help you fight the heroin charges.
We will work with you to build a strong defense in your case, and we will fight to have the charges reduced or dropped. A charge does not have to mean a conviction, and the skilled lawyers at Ciccarelli Law Offices can help you fight to protect your future. Call (610) 692-8700 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your heroin charges.
We represent those facing heroin charges throughout the Greater Philadelphia area, including Exton, Coatesville, Lancaster, Downingtown and Media. We are based in West Chester, with offices in Kennett Square, Malvern, Springfield, King of Prussia, Lancaster, Radnor and Plymouth Meeting. We serve Chester County, Montgomery County, Lancaster County, Delaware County and Philadelphia.
How We Can Help
Our attorneys have more than 25 years of experience successfully defending our clients against heroin possession charges, as well as charges for possession of other drugs, trafficking charges and interstate distribution charges. We will challenge drug searches and arrests which may have violated due process rights, and will file motions to suppress any improperly obtained evidence. When possible, we will work with the authorities to have your charges reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor—or have the charges dismissed altogether. There are a number of ways we can fight your heroin charges, and we will always present the very best defense on your behalf.
Pennsylvania Penalties Associated with Heroin Possession Charges
Heroin is classified as a Schedule I drug; if convicted for heroin possession you could find yourself facing Pennsylvania’s tough mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Even if you are found with only small amounts of the drug—and it is your first offense—you could still be looking at serious consequences. Specifically, the penalties for heroin possession in the state of Pennsylvania include:
• You face misdemeanor charges for “simple” possession of less than a gram of heroin. You could receive a maximum penalty of one year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
• Simple possession of less than one gram of heroin for a subsequent offense has a maximum penalty of up to three years in prison.
• Purchasing heroin is also a misdemeanor crime, with a maximum penalty of three years in prison (Multiple repeat offenders are subject to mandatory sentencing).
• Charges of manufacturing heroin, distribution of heroin, or possession with intent to distribute are much more serious as felony charges, and are punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Mandatory sentencing applies in these cases. As an example, a conviction for making, distributing or possessing between one and five grams of heroin brings a mandatory sentence of two years on a first offense, or three years for a subsequent offense.
• A conviction for making, distributing or possessing more than 50 grams brings a mandatory sentence of five years for a first offense and seven years for subsequent offenses.
• Possession of heroin paraphernalia is illegal in the state of Pennsylvania, even if the paraphernalia does not contain drug residue. A conviction for possession of heroin paraphernalia is punishable by a maximum of one year in jail.
Additional Information About Pennsylvania Heroin Charges
In some cases, prosecutors may be willing to offer a plea bargain in exchange for information about other “players” in the heroin business. Depending on the seriousness of your heroin charges—and whether this is your first offense—you could also qualify for Pennsylvania’s drug court program, which includes frequent drug testing and drug counseling sessions during a probation period. Attorneys from the Ciccarelli Law Offices will fight hard for your future, with a goal of the least amount of criminal penalties possible.
In addition to criminal punishments, you could be subjected to additional adverse outcomes resulting from a Pennsylvania heroin conviction. These consequences include an inability to obtain employment when a potential employer accesses your criminal record, an inability to obtain a professional license you have worked hard for, or even the inability to obtain security clearance for a specific job. You could also be unable to qualify for government financial aid for continuing education, and if you are not a legal citizen of the U.S., you could be facing unfavorable immigration consequences. As you can see, the consequences of a heroin conviction don’t end once you are sentenced—although a jail sentence and a large fine can potentially derail your life in ways you cannot even imagine.
Information about Heroin Charges
- Simple Possession of Heroin in Pennsylvania
- Dealing and Trafficking in Heroin
- Pennsylvania Drug Court Program
Simple Possession of Heroin in Pennsylvania
It is illegal under state and federal law to possess any amount of any controlled substance, including heroin. Under Pennsylvania law, possession of less than one gram of heroin would be charged as a misdemeanor, which can carry a maximum penalty of one year in jail for a first offense.
A second conviction could mean up to two years imprisonment and up to $2,500 in fines. However, third or subsequent offenses can result in prison terms of up to three years and up to $50,000 in fines. This could apply whether it was actual or constructive possession.
State law also makes it illegal to possess any sort of drug paraphernalia. Paraphernalia is defined as any equipment, product or object used or intended to be used for the purpose of compounding, testing, preparing, analyzing, containing, ingesting or inhaling. For example, a spoon, syringe or lighter could be heroin paraphernalia.
Dealing and Trafficking in Heroin
Charges for those accused of selling or trafficking heroin often are more severe. The offenses typically are charges as felonies, but there are several factors that could affect the sentences. The criminal history of the person accused of the offense, the amount allegedly in possession and the schedule in which it is classified all could affect the punishments.
Typically, a charge for trafficking a Schedule I drug such as heroin could result in felony charges and up to 15 years in jail, up to $250,000 in fines or both. Additionally, if the trafficking is a substantial amount, the assets utilized in and the profits obtained from the illegal activity could be seized.
Subsequent offenses for the sale or trafficking of heroin and the sale of heroin to minors could lead to increased charges and doubled penalties.
Pennsylvania Drug Court Program
Many states, including Pennsylvania, offer drug treatment programs for non-violent first-time offenders. This often is an alternative to incarceration, but there still are consequences. There still are certain requirements a person must meet to be enrolled in the program.
Drug court teams often are lead by a judge and are made up of a prosecutor, defense counsel, treatment provider, probation officers, law enforcement and court coordinator who work together to support and monitor a participant’s recovery.
These strict programs often include frequent drug testing and court appearances, along with treatment options. However, it could be a beneficial way to avoid jail time. A heroin defense attorney can help determine if drug court could be a viable option for you.
Finding the Best Chester County Heroin Defense Lawyer
Any time you are facing criminal charges, you should be prepared to defend yourself against tough and inflexible laws. A heroin defense attorney at Ciccarelli Law Offices can help you combat the drug charges and work with you to ensure your rights are represented. Call (610) 692-8700 today so we can start preparing your defense.
Pennsylvania Defense Strategies for Your Heroin Possession Charges
The Ciccarelli Law Offices rely on a quarter of a century of legal experience. We understand just how serious your heroin charges are, and should an acquittal simply not be possible, we will pursue options emphasizing drug treatment and rehabilitation over jail or prison time. Our attorneys have a clear understanding of how improper police procedures could have resulted in your arrest, and will also search for any violations of your Constitutional rights. These, along with evidentiary issues can be the basis for an effective defense on your behalf. At Ciccarelli Law Offices, success is our mission—we are driven to serve and ready to fight. Contact Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610)-692-8700.