Harrisburg Drug Law Overview
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and the federal government have laws against unlawful use, possession, distribution or production of certain drugs. These include cocaine, heroin, marijuana and amphetamines. The laws aim to reduce illegal drug use and cut down on drug-related crimes.
There are five categories, or "schedules," of drugs based on their potential for dependency and abuse as compared with their therapeutic value. Schedule I controlled substances have the highest potential for dependency and no accepted medical use. Schedule V drugs have a low potential for dependency and accepted medical uses.
The most severe penalties for illegal possession, sale or manufacture of drugs involve those listed in Schedule I. The Attorney General has the authority to delete, add or reschedule drugs. State schedules refer to or are based on federal schedules.
The punishment for drug crimes in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania generally depends on:
- The quantity of the drug
- Its classification under the schedules
- The purpose of possession
The most serious drug crimes are:
- Producing illegal drugs
- Manufacturing drugs
- Selling drugs
Possession of drugs with the intent to distribute them is a serious crime. Prosecutors can prove your intent to distribute drugs just by showing the quantity of the drug, without any evidence you actually distributed the drug.
In most states, possession of drugs for personal use is a serious crime. But in some states, possession of drugs for personal use is punished less severely than distribution crimes. For example, in some states, possession of a small amount of marijuana (less than 50 grams) is decriminalized or treated as a disorderly person's offense. If there's a conviction, the punishment is often probation or a fine, and not prison. However, possessing larger amounts of illegal drugs, even for personal use, may be a serious crime.
Most minimum sentences range from one year in jail to three years in prison for first-time offenders. The minimum sentences for repeat offenders? Three to 12 years in prison.
Some states have enhanced penalties for drug crimes. These apply if:
- Minors are used to distribute the drugs
- The drugs are delivered or sold to minors
- The drugs are sold or distributed near schools
Enhanced punishments vary by state. You may also be in danger of "forfeiting" your property if you're convicted of a drug crime. For example, if your house is used to make and distribute drugs, the government may be able to seize it.
Professional Drug Dealers
Special laws cover professional drug dealers. A "drug kingpin," or a person organizing, financing or managing a business to manufacture, transport or sell drugs, commits a serious crime.
There are special sentences for professional drug dealers. Federal law even has the death penalty for drug kingpins. Some states impose 25 years in prison without parole for professional drug dealers.
Questions for Your Harrisburg Drug Lawyer
- Do I need a lawyer if I'm going to plead guilty to a drug crime charge?
- What are Harrisburg, Pennsylvania drug schedules?
- What are Harrisburg, Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines?
The Law Office Of Geoffrey McInroy
Geoffrey S. McInroy, Esquire is a seasoned criminal lawyer who honed his skills during his five years as a prosecutor for the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office. Having tried hundreds of cases before judges and juries throughout Central Pennsylvania, Mr. McInroy has also developed broad experience in Pennsylvania State Courts, as well as the U.S. District Courts in the Middle and Eastern Districts.
Geoffrey S. McInroy has been serving the legal needs of his clients in Central Pennsylvania, including Dauphin, Cumberland, Lebanon, and York counties as a Harrisburg Area criminal lawyer for more than thirteen years. He has extensive knowledge and experience in trial litigation in both state and federal courts. In addition to his work as a member of a firm of personal injury lawyers, Attorney McInroy served as a Cumberland County Senior Assistant District Attorney for five years where he managed over 3,500 criminal cases.
Areas of Practice:
- DUI Defense
- Criminal Defense
- Civil Rights Litigation
- Family Law
- Personal Injury
- Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University, J.D., 2000
- Gettysburg College, B.A., 1993
Admitted to Practice:
- U.S. District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania, 2006
- U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 2011
- U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, 2011
- Pennsylvania Bar Association
- Dauphin County Bar Association
- Cumberland County Bar Association
- Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers