To possess illegal drugs in Pennsylvania is a crime. These controlled substances include marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and more. To be found guilty means that the prosecutor has valid proof that a person intentionally carried a controlled substance beyond a reasonable doubt. The penalties for drug possession do not come in a one-size-fits-all option. The sentence depends widely on the drug of choice, the amount and the circumstances surrounding the possession.
According to the Pennsylvania code, the court will look at a variety of guidelines in the sentencing phase. These guidelines include:
- Prior records
- Merged crimes
- Multiple convictions
- Gravity score
There are offense gravity scores for every offense. The score is a numerical standard that the judge can use to evaluate how serious the crime is. A low misdemeanor may be a one on the scale, whereas a 14 is a serious felony. This set up ensures that those who have committed serious crimes receive a harsher sentence than those who are first-time offenders or are in possession of a small amount of controlled substance.
The judge relies on a chart to determine a sentence. An important and notable rule is that a judge must abide by the minimum and maximum sentencing for specific crimes. A judge may, however, analyze mitigating factors of the crime and make a judgment based on those. If a person has a small amount of marijuana on his or her person, for instance, has a consistent record of employment, is a first-time offender and cooperates with police, he or she may have a more favorable sentence.
By no means is anything listed here legal advice. It is instead information on drug possession sentencing in Pennsylvania.