Experienced Somerset Drug Possession Attorney Aggressively Defends Against Criminal Prosecution

A solid defense is necessary if you’ve been charged in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is adamant about stopping the flow of illegal drugs into and through the state along the Somerset Turnpike and other major highways. Many of my clients are stopped along the Turnpike by alert highway patrol officers who are on the hunt for drivers carrying illegal drugs. If it happens to you, you could face stiff fines and a lengthy jail sentence. During nearly 20 years as a Somerset drug offense attorney, Matthew R. Zatko has been defending people who’ve been stopped by police and charged with possessing a wide variety of drugs. At my firm, Matthew R. Zatko, Attorney at Law, I fight the charges against my clients and strive to protect their legal rights.

Types of controlled substances

Pennsylvania, like the federal government, distinguishes between different types of illegal drugs, or “controlled substances.” These are grouped into different categories, known as “schedules,” depending on their perceived dangers and medical usefulness, if any. The schedule of a given drug may affect the penalties for possessing them. The five controlled substance schedules, in order of severity of sentences, are:

  • Schedule I — These are drugs regarded as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. Examples include Heroin and MDMA-based drugs like ecstasy and molly.
  • Schedule II — Drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine and fentanyl are regarded as having a high potential for abuse, which may lead to severe physical or psychological dependence, but have a currently accepted medical use, either with or without severe restrictions.
  • Schedule III — These drugs have a lesser potential for abuse, which may lead to moderate or low physical dependence and well-documented medical uses.
  • Schedule IV — Drugs like Xanax and Valium are regarded as having a still lower potential for abuse, causing more limited dependence, and have currently accepted medical uses.
  • Schedule V — These drugs have the least potential for abuse and risk of dependence, as well as currently accepted medical uses.

I will aggressively contest any drug possession charges against you, regardless of which schedule the drug in question falls into.

Marijuana possession in Pennsylvania

Unlike many other states that have started legalizing recreational marijuana use, Pennsylvania only permits you to possess marijuana for medical purposes with a valid prescription. Not only is it still a criminal offense to possess it for recreational purposes, but it’s a Schedule I drug. I have 20 years of experience defending clients against marijuana possession charges and will fight for you in court if you’re charged with possession.

What drug possession offenses and penalties might you face?

Pennsylvania recognizes different types of drug possession offenses:

  • Simple possession, involving small amounts for personal consumption
  • Possession with intent to deliver, which is more serious and might be inferred from your possessing a large amount
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia, such as bongs
  • Possession within a school zone

These charges carry different penalties, which also depend on the type of drug and the number of prior drug offenses. That is why, before answering questions from or making any statement to police or prosecutors, you should speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. Your words could come back to haunt you. I can explain these differences in more detail and give you a reasonable idea of what penalties you might face if convicted of the charge of which you’re accused.

Defenses to drug possession charges

There are several defenses that I can use, and have used, to fight drug crime charges. I will look at your case in-depth and research all of the ways in which we can reduce or eliminate the charges through defenses such as:

  • You aren’t guilty — I might be able to show that the drug was not yours, that you had an insufficient amount, that you had no intent to use or distribute it or that you had a prescription from a licensed medical doctor.
  • Unlawful search and seizure — will examine the circumstances surrounding your arrest, and petition the court to suppress the evidence against you on the ground that the police stopped you illegally, did not have probable cause to conduct the search or did so without a valid warrant.
  • Chain of custody issues — Police must be able to document who possessed the evidence against you from seizure until it’s introduced at trial. A break in this chain might also lead to the evidence’s suppression and increase your chances of an acquittal.
  • Entrapment — The police can’t entice you to commit a crime in order to prosecute you. If they do, it may be a complete defense.

I will use every defense available to you in my efforts to secure your acquittal.

Reach out to an experienced defense attorney for help with your drug crime charge today

At Matthew R. Zatko, Attorney at Law, I build strong defenses against drug possession charges. Call 814-443-1631 or contact me online for a free consultation if you’ve been charged with drug possession.