Anabolic Steroids: Prosecutions in Pennsylvania and Beyond

Anabolic Steroids

While there are health risks associated with anabolic steroids, the American College of Sports Medicine acknowledges that these drugs contribute to the growth of lean muscle mass when combined with high intensity exercise and proper diet. Anabolic steroids are drugs which increase proteins within cells, especially the skeletal muscles. The harmful effect of these drugs, however, and the unfair advantage that they give in competitive athletes has caused them to be banned in professional sport and amateur sport arena. It is estimated that over 10 Million Americans take anabolic steroids for cosmetic (bodybuilding) or competitive athletics.

In Pennsylvania, anabolic steroids are classified as a Schedule III controlled substance. A person who is found in possession of these drugs will be charged with a misdemeanor offense in Pennsylvania. If this individual, however, is charged with possession with the intent to deliver these drugs (PWID), he will face felony charges which could result in a county or state prison sentence unless his criminal defense attorney can provide the sentencing judge with a substantial amount of mitigation evidence to combat the aggravation evidence that the district attorney or prosecutor will present following trial.

Pennsylvania classifies Anabolic steroids as a Schedule III controlled substance just like the Federal Government even though there is little if any evidence that steroids have a high risk of dependency or addiction. The Federal Government, since 1990, has passed several pieces of legislation aimed at eliminating the use of anabolic steroids from competitive sports and personal use for cosmetic or bodybuilding reasons. The most recent legislation was The Designer Steroid Control Act of 2014. President Obama designed this legislation into law on December 14, 2014 and its purpose is to close any loopholes which the 2004 Steroid Control Act failed to address. Specifically, the 2014 legislation focused on sale of over the counter “prohormones” and provided the Department of Justice (DOJ) with regulation control over the substances. Previously the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversaw the regulation of these drugs.

The 2014 law not only added 25 chemical new compounds to the category of steroids but it also now requires that these manufactures prove to the DOJ that a new compound doesn’t fall under the category anabolic steroids. This represents a major position change on the regulation and prosecution of anabolic steroids.  According to the Federal Government, Anabolic steroids is defined as any drug or hormonal substance chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone (other than estrogens, progestins, corticosteroids, and EHEA) regardless of its ability to promote muscle growth.

While a person’s motivation for taking steroids is probably different from a heroin, cocaine or a crack user, the criminal defense of these drugs is very similar. A person accused of Possession or Possession with the Intent to Deliver (PWID) anabolic steroids is still guaranteed a trial and the government must prove that a person is guilty of these crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. Further, the defense, just like in any drug prosecution, can assert a person’s 4th Amendment Rights against illegal search and seizure, his 5thAmendment Rights against self-incrimination and his 6th Amendment right to counsel. The criminal defense of steroids should always start with law enforcement’s basis for reasonable suspicion and probable cause (or lack thereof) which lead to the initial police investigation and the person’s arrest.

With regards trial and pre-trial proceeding, a strong criminal defense attorney should always consider a Motion to Quash some if not all of the charges and also consider Motions to Suppress Evidence if the case does proceed beyond the preliminary hearing. At the trial level it is important that your criminal defense lawyer distinguish between possession and possession with the intent to deliver (PWID). Remember that in Pennsylvania a substantial amount of weight, in and of itself, isn’t sufficient to establish that a person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt with regards to PWID charges.   A criminal defense lawyer should also consider a defense which focuses on a person’s addiction to distinguish between simple possession of a drug like anabolic steroid and PWID of anabolic steroids. This distinction again is important because again PWID is a felony charge while simple possession is a misdemeanor charge in Pennsylvania.

If you are charged with the illegal possession or distribution of steroids I encourage you to watch my videos on criminal defense, subscribe to my monthly newsletter or download a copy of my free books. All of these resources are free and will provide you with a strong understanding of your constitutional rights and your criminal defense options in these criminal cases.