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Gun and Drug Possession Law in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, the penalties and punishments for drug offenses vary widely and significantly. A person charged with drug crimes may simply face a short sentence of probation, and a minimal fine, while another may face incarceration for several years and incur heavy fines and costs. Several factors play a role in determining the severity of the sentence for any given drug offense, including the controlled substance involved, the individual’s criminal history, the amount of drugs involved, and where the crime occurred. One factor that can have tremendous ramifications for sentencing is the possession of a gun, in connection with the drug offense. The mere possession, or even the mere proximity of, a firearm during the commission of a crime involving drugs could significantly increase the penalties for the defendant.

For instance, if an individual is found guilty of possessing a small amount of marijuana, she may only be sentenced to jail time of up to thirty days, or to pay a fine up to five hundred dollars. Under Pennsylvania law, any individual found to be in possession of drugs with the intent to distribute and who has a firearm on his person is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, irrespective of the type or amount of the controlled substance involved.  Further, this penalty is also enforceable on an offender’s accomplice who possesses the firearm during an arrest.  Moreover, merely being in the presence of a person with a firearm could result in the defendant serving a minimum sentence of five years on a felony charge. This applies even if the defendant did not actually possess or handle the gun at any time during the offense.

If you are facing a criminal drug charge, you should speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney to determine the potential consequences regarding your pending criminal charges. Contact the criminal defense lawyers at Tanner Law Offices. Our team of skilled professionals is prepared to defend you through this challenging time and ensure your rights are fully protected.  Please contact our office at 717-836-0471 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.