Just as is the case in other states, criminal charges stemming from a drug crime can lead to serious consequences here in Pennsylvania. That’s because, like most states, we have a plethora of laws that govern everything from what substances are considered illegal to the punishments we could face if they are found in our possession.

As some of our West Chester readers probably already know, drug laws can differ from state to state as well as their associated penalties. So how does Pennsylvania define drug possession and what penalties could a resident in our state face?

In keeping consistent with federal law, a person can be accused of drug possession if they knowingly or intentionally have in their possession a controlled substance such as marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin or even a prescription drug. In criminal cases, the burden of proof is on prosecutors who must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person knowingly and intentionally possessed the substance.

It’s worth pointing out that there are some circumstances — such as with prescription drugs –that may be considered instances of drug possession but might not necessarily lead to drug charges. In instances where a friend leaves a prescription medication in your vehicle without your knowledge or you have a valid prescription for a medication are two examples where drug charges are unlikely to be levied against you.

In Pennsylvania, the severity of a drug possession charge depends on the type of controlled substance and the amount found in your possession. Penalties can range from a relatively small fine and a few days in jail to heftier fines and several years in jail. Either way, a conviction can negatively impact your life, which is why having legal representation to help you through the trial process is considered a good idea.

Source: FindLaw, “Pennsylvania Drug Possession Laws,” Accessed Oct. 31, 2014