If my son was charged with drug paraphernalia offense, what can I do to prevent him from losing his license?

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If my son was charged with drug paraphernalia offense, what can I do to prevent him from losing his license?

They told him to just pay a fine now he is having his license suspended.

Asked on March 9, 2014 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

All “drug” cases are not equal.  There are 2 types, misdemeanor and felony cases.  Misdemeanor drug cases while serious, are less serious than felony drug cases.  Most felony drug cases will result in a jail sentence.  Many misdemeanor drug cases, providing there is no prior criminal record, will result in a probation sentence.  Depending on the county you are in, some misdemeanor drug cases are even eligible for the ARD program where the criminal record can be expunged or destroyed upon completion of the program’s requirements.

Misdemeanor drug cases are usually Possession of a Controlled Substance (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, pills, etc.) and Possession of Paraphernalia (pipes, bowls, rolling papers, syringes, etc.).  Felony drug charges are usually Delivery of a Controlled Substance, Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance, and Acquisition of a Controlled Substance by Fraud.

DRUG DELIVERY (felony)

Drug Delivery is simply an exchange of a controlled substance, like marijuana, cocaine, or heroin, from one person to another. As long as there is some type of transaction, regardless if money is involved, a drug delivery has taken place. A drug delivery is always graded as a felony. Penalties will depend on the type of drug, the weight or amount of the drug, and the person’s prior criminal convictions.

No matter the weight of the controlled substance, a delivery is always a felony, even if the weight is less than a gram.  The greater the weight, the greater the punishment.

POSSESSION WITH INTENT TO DELIVER A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE (felony)

Possession With Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance is when a person possesses a controlled substance or drug and it’s that person’s intent to deliver that controlled substance to another or to exchange it for money. There does not have to be an exchange or sale of drugs for this crime to occur. It is enough that the person is in possession of the drugs and that the evidence indicates that the person intends to exchange or sell the controlled substance. The charge of Possession With Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance is always graded as a Felony. The penalty will depend on the type of drug, the weight or amount of the drug and the person’s prior criminal convictions.

Evidence the Commonwealth always looks for in Possession With The Intent To Deliver cases include: was a confidential informant used, was marked or pre-recorded money found, how much money was found, are there taped phoned conversations, how much surveillance was conducted, etc.

DELIVERY OR INTENT TO DELIVER IN A SCHOOL ZONE

If a person sells drugs or is charged with Possession With The Intent To Deliver drugs within a school zone, upon conviction the person will be ordered to serve a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 to 4 years incarceration.  A school zone is any area within 1000 feet of a school or university or 250 feet of a recreation center or playground.  In many cities in Pennsylvania, every street in the city is located within a school zone.  It is important for the defense attorney to take the necessary steps to ensure a “school zone” sentence is not ordered.

ACQUISITION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE BY FRAUD (FELONY)

Acquisition of a Controlled Substance by Fraud is unrelated to selling drugs or possessing then with the intention of later selling them.  This charge usually deals with a person pretending to be associated with a doctor’s office phoning in a fake prescription to a pharmacy.  Other times it is charged when a person brings in an altered or forged prescription to a pharmacy.

POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE (misdemeanor)

If a person is knowingly in possession of a controlled substance or drug, he is guilty of the charge of Possession. Possession of a Controlled Substance, as long as it is not possessed with the intent to sell or deliver, is always graded as a misdemeanor.  The controlled substance can be marijuana, pills, cocaine, heroin, etc.

DRUG PARAPHERNALIA (misdemeanor)

If a person is in possession of paraphernalia commonly used to assist in the use or consumption of drugs, such as a pipe, needle, baggies, scale, cigarette rolling papers, etc., the person may be found guilty of possession with the intent to use drug paraphernalia. This charge is always graded as a misdemeanor.

CRIMINAL USE OF A COMMUNICATIONS FACILITY (felony)

Criminal Use of a Communications facility (felony) is when a person uses a communications’ facility such as a telephone or computer to commit or facilitate a felony. This charge is graded as a felony. An example would be when a person uses a telephone to set up a sale of a controlled substance.  This charge, though commonly filed with drug cases, can also be filed in non-drug related cases.

LOSS OF LICENSE FOR CONVICTION OF DRUG OFFENSE

There is an automatic loss of your Pennsylvania driver’s license upon a conviction for Delivery of a Controlled Substance, Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance, and Possession of a Controlled Substance.  There is no loss of license for a conviction for Possession of Paraphernalia.  The license suspension is 6 months for the first conviction, 1 yr. for the second conviction, and 2 yrs. for a third and any subsequent conviction.

Answer: You need to consult with a reputable criminal defense attorney in your community over what you have written about. One can be found on attorneypages.com.


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