Passing On The Left Hand Side — Possession With Intent to Distribute?

Passing On The Left Hand Side — Possession With Intent to Distribute?

By F. Clay Merris, Esq.

A general rule of thumb in Pennsylvania criminal law is that mere possession of a controlled substance is a misdemeanor, while possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance is a felony. As most are aware, there is a massive difference in criminal penalties resulting from misdemeanors and felonies. Possession alone in Pennsylvania is an ungraded misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of one year. Possession with intent to distribute is, in most cases, an ungraded felony and, depending on the substance and the amount possessed, can carry maximum penalties as high as 15 years.

One misconception I have come across in defending these cases is that many charged individuals believe that the prosecution needs to prove that they accepted money for drugs. They think that if drugs were only given to someone else but not sold, they should be charged with only a misdemeanor, and not a felony. The law does not, however, make a distinction between selling and giving controlled substances. Either way, it is treated as a delivery and charged as a felony offense. There is one major exception to this rule, and it involves marijuana. Pursuant to 35 P.S. 780-111(a)(31), the possession of marijuana with intent to distribute it but not sell it is only a misdemeanor so long as it is only a “small amount” which the law defines as less than thirty grams of marijuana or eight grams of hashish.

If you are charged with possession or possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, contact Scaringi Law 717-775-7195 to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney.



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