Many of our clients face drug and illegal narcotic charges in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Some people who have never been in any type of criminal trouble now face the prospect of going to state prison! I’ve always told my friends and family that a drug charge can happen to anyone because we’ve all been around people who may not really know well. I have known friends from law school, college and even my military service who have had trouble with the law at different levels. Obviously no person wants to hire a criminal defense lawyer but if you’re charged with a serious offense, you must hire the right lawyer to ensure that this difficult time doesn’t follow you years into the future.
From my experience, there are very common questions from people in this situation and I will lay out the answers in this very short article. Obviously, every criminal case is different but understanding the answers to these common questions will allow you to actively participate in your defense. Your defense lawyer should address each of these questions during the course of his representation of you. If your attorney doesn’t discuss these issues with you, don’t be afraid to ask him or her. I created my website’s free download section specifically because I wanted my client to understand every aspect of their defense.
Here are my answers to the 4 Most Common Questions
- What is the difference possession with intent to deliver and simple possession
Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID) is a felony and simple possession is a misdemeanor. A felony conviction could subject you a state prison sentence in addition to substantially hindering your educational and professional opportunities. Conspiracy to commit PWID subjects you to the same type of penalties and consequences. Simple possession of a controlled substance like marijuana, cocaine, crack and heroin is an ungraded misdemeanor. Even if you’re convicted for simple possession, there is much less of a stigma associated with this type of conviction than a felony conviction. In addition, under Pennsylvania’s new record sealing law, you can petition the court to seal your misdemeanor drug record 10 years after a conviction.
- Can the prosecution prove possession with intent to deliver (PWID) without either an expert witness or an observed transaction?
If you are charged with PWID, ask your criminal defense lawyer about the strength of the prosecution’s expert or if they plan on presenting evidence of observed drug transactions. The assistant district attorney (ADA) (prosecution) will have to present this type of evidence to gain a conviction for PWID. If ADA plans on using an expert, your attorney should focus on the basis for the expert’s opinion along with alternative theories. Your defense can also present its own expert to help establish reasonable doubt. Remember that the goal of a criminal defense isn’t to prove innocence but to establish reasonable doubt. If the prosecution uses observed drug sales, prime areas for defense attack include the lack of arrested buyers, poor lighting, distance and the inability to articulate the type of packaging (color).
- Will you lose your driver’s license for any type of drug possession (felony or misdemeanor conviction) in Pennsylvania or New Jersey?
If you’re convicted of any type of drug crime, however, PENNDOT will no longer suspend your license for 6 months but in New Jersey, a judge still has the discretion to suspend your driving privileges for up to 2 years. This suspension will be consecutive to any other suspension (DUI, traffic point violations).
- Do Police need to find the drugs on you for a court to find you guilty?
Actual vs. Constructive possession are critical parts of any criminal drug defense strategy. These concepts apply to illegal drug, gun and firearm cases. Actual constructive means that the drug was found on your person whereas constructive possession means that it was found in the area of your immediate control. The prosecution only needs to establish constructive possession beyond a reasonable doubt so don’t start doing cartwheels just because police arrested you and the drugs weren’t in your pocket. Your attorney must attack the prosecution’s theory of constructive possession with alternative theories that focus on your lack of knowledge of the drug.
Drug crimes are serious and representing yourself is a total mistake. Take some time to review all of the free materials on this website. I look forward to speaking with you!