For the most part, when adults make choices in Philadelphia, it is assumed that they understand the consequences of their actions. There is less sympathy for adults than when minors may commit similar actions. There is also an interest in protecting youth from being corrupted or influenced by adults since minors may not truly understand what they are getting into when something is suggested to them by an adult.
Therefore, there are certain laws in place to try and help deter adults from engaging minors in certain activities. One of these is selling drugs to minors. Selling controlled substances without the authority to do so is illegal no matter who an adult sells them to, but the law places additional penalties on adults when they sell drugs to a minor.
If an adult sells drugs to a minor, or possesses drugs with the intent of doing so, Pennsylvania law states that he or she must serve at least one year in jail in addition to any other penalties imposed on them for the crime. The judge also does not have the authority to suspend the one year minimum and place the offender on probation instead. The judge may impose a more severe penalty, but he or she must sentence the person to at least one year.
The mandatory minimum also increases to two years if certain circumstances are present. One is if the person was promoting habitual use by providing it to the minor; another is if the person was trying to engage the minor in selling the drug by providing it to them; another is if the delivery took place within 1000 feet of a school; and the last is if the offense took place on a bus or within 500 feet of a bus stop.
In Philadelphia, before the judge can sentence a person to one of these enhanced penalties, the offender does have the opportunity to prove that the factors mentioned above were not present and may be able to avoid the mandatory minimums. Also, anyone who is charged with a drug offense may have defenses available to him or her and have protected constitutional rights.
Source: Pennsylvania State Legislature, “Pennsylvania Statute Title 18 Section 6314” accessed on Oct. 17, 2016