If you have been charged with drug possession with intent to distribute, you likely face years in jail if prosecutors succeed in their case. Do not go up against experienced and aggressive prosecutors when your freedom is at stake. Instead, contact the criminal defense firm of Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC.
At Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC our attorney team has provided legal help to thousands of clients facing criminal charges, including drug-related charges. We have succeeded in achieving acquittals and dismissals of charges even in drug possession and distribution cases involving:
- Large amounts of drugs
- The presence of alleged drug paraphernalia, including weighing scales and packing materials
- Evidence of dealing
- The presence of alleged buyer lists
- The presence of large amounts of cash
We are highly experienced and knowledgeable regarding criminal law, police procedures and restrictions on police procedures, including laws governing:
- Probable cause
- The use of affidavits of probable cause
- Police officers' usage and execution of search warrants
A Team With Valuable Legal Experience
The law firm of Shaffer & Engle provides experienced defense counsel to anyone charged with possession with intent to sell, distribute or manufacture a controlled substance or "look alike" substance, also known more commonly as "PWI."
Our senior partner, attorney Jeffrey Engle, was a prosecutor in the DA's office, where the majority of cases he handled were drug crimes. Clients facing felony drug charges benefit from Mr. Engle's years of experience, in-depth legal knowledge, relationships within the court and probation office and first-hand knowledge of how prosecutors handling your case will likely operate.
Understanding Pennsylvania's PWI Statute
The criminalization for this act is found in 35 P.S. §780-113(a)(30) and (35). The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, criminalizes the possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance and makes it a felony. The ways in which police can prove that one is in possession with the intent to distribute usually come from the circumstances surrounding the possession of the substance. For instance, the presence of the following can allow prosecutors to assert that you are in possession and thus the "intention" to distribute or sell the drugs.
- A large amount of cash
- Client "ledgers"
- Packaging materials such as Ziploc baggies or heat sealers
- A large quantity of individually packaged narcotics
Drugs that are also grown or "manufactured" are also a felony.
There are five different schedules of drugs that are illegal to possess without being authorized by law:
- Schedule I narcotics are those drugs that have a "high potential for abuse" and are typically opiates. Cocaine, crack, marijuana and heroin.
- Schedule II narcotics likewise have a "high potential for abuse", but may have a "currently accepted medical use in the United States". Such drugs also include opiates or opium. Drugs such as methadone, amphetamines, and phencyclidine are in this group.
- Schedule III narcotics are those drugs that possess a "moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence". These drugs typically possess some level of barbituric acid (1.8 grams of codeine per 100 milliliters).
- Schedule IV drugs are those that have a "currently accepted medical use in the United States" and have a "limited physical and/or psychological dependence". Drugs such as barbital, chloral betaine, and phenobarbital are included in this Schedule.
- Schedule V drugs are those with a "currently accepted medical use" and "limited physical dependence and/or psychological dependence" relative to Schedule IV. Codeine with not more than 200 milligrams per 100 milliliters is in this group.
There are mandatory penalties for possession of certain quantities of drugs or live plants that are found in the act and in the Pennsylvania Sentencing Code. That is, the judge may not have any discretion to give you a lower sentence if you are found guilty of PWI of a certain quantity.
Defending Against PWI Charges
The manner in which a defense attorney may properly defend such a case is:
- Have the evidence "suppressed" or argue that it was seized in some manner that was unconstitutional, thereby prohibiting the Commonwealth from using the evidence obtained from its case-in-chief
- Argue that the quantity possessed or the circumstances surrounding the possession was not indicative of possession with the intent to sell or distribute.
- argue that the drugs were not even possessed by you, rather by another that was not charged or by a co-defendant (another that was charged)
Many times, the defense may use its own expert at trial in such a case.
If you face drug distribution, sale and trafficking charges, contact the experienced criminal defense law firm of Shaffer & Engle Law Office, LLC. We provide free initial consultations, are available for evening and weekend appointments and operate two offices for your convenience. To contact one of our lawyers, call 717-827-4074.