There are many different types of drugs in Philadelphia. Each type of drug has a different effect on the body and mind. Some are also more dangerous than others for the user. As such, drugs are put into five different schedules in Pennsylvania with Schedule I being the most dangerous and Schedule V being the least dangerous. Heroin is one of the drugs in Schedule I. This drug is used every day by many people in Philadelphia and is highly addictive.
Due to the addictive nature and dangers associated with heroin, the law creates strict penalties even for simple heroin possession. For a first time offense, if convicted, the person may have to pay up to a $5000 fine and/or spend up to one year in jail. If it is a second possession offense, then the fine can be up to $25,000 and the person could be sentenced to up to three years in jail.
However, most people who possess heroin would not be able to get it unless someone else sells it to them. The law tries to cut the heroin off at the source, so the penalties for distributing heroin are much more severe than the penalties for simply possessing it.
A person convicted of distributing heroin is guilty of a felony. The person could also have to spend up to 15 years in prison and/or pay up to a $250,000 fine. This fine could even be greater if the person possesses more than that from selling the heroin.
These penalties are only for those who are convicted though. Everyone charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty and there may be defenses available to the defendant. Many of these defenses start with whether the police legally stopped and searched the defendant. If the stop or the search was illegal then the evidence may be thrown out, making a conviction much less likely.
Many people are charged with possession or distribution of heroin in Philadelphia every year. The penalties for a conviction are severe, but simply being charged does not mean the person will be convicted. This post only provides general information and is not legal advice Experienced criminal defense attorneys understand the potential defenses and may be able to help protect one's rights.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health, "The controlled substance, drug, device and cosmetic act" accessed on May 11, 2015