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Penalties for drug possession in Philadelphia

Some people in Philadelphia use certain types of drugs for perfectly legal reasons, for example, those who use medications that have been prescribed by doctors to treat various conditions. However, there are some who will use illegal drugs. If a person is convicted of drug possession they could face very serious consequences including significant jail time. The severity of the potential penalty depends on the type of the drug the person possesses.

Drugs and put into five different categories called Schedules. The most dangerous drugs are in Schedule I and the least dangerous are in Schedule V. The penalties are more severe for the more dangerous drugs. The penalties are also more severe if the person has the intent to distribute the drugs.

If a person is caught possessing narcotic drugs with the intent to sell in Schedule I, II or III it is a felony, and the person could be sentenced up to 15 years in jail and/or pay a fine of $250,000. For all other drugs in those Schedules the person could still be put in jail for up to five years and/or pay a fine of up to $15,000. If a person possesses a Schedule IV drug, it would still be a felony but, the penalty is up to three years in jail and/or a $10,000 fine. If it is a Schedule V drug, it is a misdemeanor and the penalty could be up to one year in jail and/or up to a $5,000 fine.

While the penalties for drug possession in Philadelphia can be severe, there may be defenses available to the person charged. Often times these defenses start with whether the police properly searched the person or their home and seized the drugs. If the search was unlawful then the evidence of the drugs could be suppressed and a conviction becomes less likely. Area attorneys understand these defenses and may be able to protect one’s rights.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health, “The controlled substance, drug, device and cosmetic act” accessed on Feb. 8, 2015


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