There are two categories of marijuana offenses. The first involves misdemeanor possession for personal use. The second is felony possession with intent to deliver or 'manufacture' of marijuana. Marijuana possession for personal use is further divided into two categories: possession of a controlled substance or possessing a small amount of marijuana.
The maximum penalty if you are convicted for a first offense for possession of a controlled substance in 12 months incarceration and a $5000 fine. However, if you are convicted a second time, you can be sentenced to 3 years incarceration and $25,000 in fines. Prosecutors charge a "small amount of marijuana" when somebody possesses 30 grams of marijuana for personal use. A conviction for this offense is 30 days in jail and a fine of $500.
Sometimes a second charge of possessing drug paraphernalia is added to the charge of marijuana possession. Drug paraphernalia includes any item intended for use to consume or store an illegal drug. You can be incarcerated for up to one year and fined $2500 for this misdemeanor. While this may not seem especially harsh, it is a greater penalty than someone will receive for a conviction of possessing a small amount of marijuana.
The Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines do allow for probation for someone convicted of marijuana possession who has has no prior record. However, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 2-4 years in state prison if the drug charge arises out of events within a school zone. Events occur within a school zone if they are within 1,000 feet of the property line of a school or within 250 feet of a playground or recreation center.
Unlike some states, in Pennsylvania there is no set weight that converts a possession charge to a possession for sale charge. However, weight can impact whether a felony or a misdemeanor is charged. Moreover, there are many collateral consequences to a marijuana possession conviction. For example, if you are convicted of drug possession you become ineligible for federally subsidized loans. This can impact the kinds of jobs you are able to apply for and whether you can obtain certain types of licenses.Retain a Levittown Attorney to Defend Against Marijuana Possession Charges
Marijuana possession charges carry harsher consequences than some types of assault or property crimes in Pennsylvania. Often they are charged alongside a drug paraphernalia charge, which carries its own penalties for conviction. Accordingly it is crucial to work with an attorney who is familiar with these types of charges and who knows how to mount a strong defense against them. Experienced Bucks County criminal defense attorney John Kenney is familiar with local judges and district attorneys and can develop a strong strategy to defend against a marijuana possession charge. Our firm serves clients in Bristol, Morrisville, Fairless Hills, Levittown, and throughout Bucks County Pennsylvania. For a free initial consultation, contact our office at (215) 547-3031 or by completing our online form.