Drug Offenses in Lancaster County
By Attorney Ed Pfursich (Fur-sik)
There are three basic types of drug offenses in Lancaster County.
- The first is a “simple” Possession charge. This is an allegation that you had actual possession or “constructive” possession of a controlled substance. An example of actual possession is where police allege to have found drugs on your person (in your pocket, for example). Constructive possession is where police allege to have found drugs in a place where they think they can show that you had the power and intent to control them. An example of constructive position is where police allege to have located drugs in the trunk of a car you are driving. “Simple” Possession charges are generally graded as misdemeanors. Depending on your prior record, a conviction for this kind of offense will usually lead to a sentence of probation or a short county jail sentence. It is rare for a conviction of this type to lead to a state prison sentence. However, there are collateral consequences to being charged and convicted of a possession drug offense. For example, the drug charge can cause serious problems with child custody and your driver’s license.
- The second is Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID). PWID is similar to simple possession but with an added element that the police also allege that you intended to deliver the drugs to another person. PWID is always graded as a felony offense and can lead to significant prison sentence. The severity of the offense varies widely dependent upon the weight of drugs involved, the location of the offense (was it in a school zone?), and whether a firearm was possessed. Often times, mandatory sentences are applicable to PWID charges.
- The third is Delivery of a Controlled Substance. This involves and allegation that you actually delivered drugs to another person. Like PWID, the severity of the offense varies widely dependent upon the weight of drugs involved, the location of the offense (was it in a school zone), and whether a firearm was possessed. Often times, mandatory sentences are applicable.
It is important to meet with an experienced attorney to discuss all the direct and collateral consequences of being charged with a Drug Offense as well as any defense you might have to the charge. The possible defenses to a drug offenses are too numerous to list here but an experienced attorney will be able to evaluate your case and discuss these potential defenses. To list a few possible defenses:
– Did the police have probable cause to search the area where the drugs were located?
– If a search warrant was utilized by the police, was it valid?
– Did any other person have access to the area where the drugs were located?
– For felony drug offenses: were the drugs possessed for simply “personal use?”
In addition to discussing ways to fight the charge, an experienced attorney will also tell you about a number of programs available in Lancaster County to reduce the severity of the consequences associated with any drug offense. For “simple” Possession charges, this can include acceptance into a Drug Diversion Program that can lead to having the charge DISMISSED. For Possession with Intent to Deliver or Delivery charges, this can include acceptance into an Intermediate Punishment Program which can significantly reduce any prison sentence.
*Attorney Ed Pfursich (Fur-sik) is a former Lancaster County prosecutor who now practices primarily criminal defense at The Cody Law Firm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania