Drugs and Controlled Substances


To prove a charge of simple possession, the prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • the defendant knowingly and deliberately/intentionally possessed a controlled substance (without a valid prescription), and
  • the defendant knew the drug was an illegal controlled substance, and
  • the defendant had actual control or possession of the drug.

Penalties for Possession of Marijuana:

  • As a first time offender, you may be eligible for the ARD program.
  • For 30 grams or less, you will be charged with a misdemeanor and could be sentenced up to 30 days in jail, and ordered to pay a fine up to $500.
  • For possession of more than 30 grams, the penalties rise to up to 1 year in jail and a fine up to $2,500 with an automatic six month license suspension. Additionally, you could be charged with intent to deliver/distribute.

Penalties for Possession of other Controlled Substances (ex. Cocaine, Heroin, PCP, LSD, Ecstasy/MMDA, Meth), and prescription drugs (ex. Vicodin, Oxycontin) or illegal steroids:

  • Up to one year in prison, and/or a $5,000 fine first (1st) offense
  • Up to two years in prison for a second (2nd) offense
  • Up to three years in prison for a third (3rd) offense
  • Possession of more than five grams of crack (cocaine) may be subject to a minimum penalty of 5 years in prison.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

  • Up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

Intent to distribute:

The categories and penalties for Manufacturing, Delivering, or Possession with Intent to Deliver a controlled substance are related to the specific drug. Most substances are categorized by the federal drug Schedule (I-V) classifications.

The penalties for Possession with intent to Deliver or Manufacture a Controlled Substance (sale, delivery or distribution) in Pennsylvania are:

  • For a Schedule I or II drug (a narcotic, ex. Heroin) – up to 15 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
  • For phencyclidines (PCP), methamphetamines (Meth), cocoa (Cocaine) and its derivatives, or Marijuana in excess of 1,000 pounds – up to 10 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.
  • For any other Schedule I, II or III drug not included above – up to 5 years in prison and a up to a $15,000 fine.
  • For a Schedule IV drug – up to 3 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
  • For a Schedule V – up to 1 year in prison and up to a $1,000 fine.

Depending on the charges, you can also face separate Federal penalties for drug distribution, sale, or trafficking.

For selling marijuana to a minor, (regardless of the amount) under Pennsylvania law, it can be a felony charge of up to 2 years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

The penalty may be doubled and even tripled if you are also charged with distributing a controlled substances in a school zone. Mandatory sentences may apply if you are convicted.

If you or someone you care about has been charged with a drug violation, contact our office today for your FREE consultation.

The information contained herein is dedicated to providing public information regarding Family Law issues in Pennsylvania. None of the information on this site is intended to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of attorney client relationship. Please contact our law firm for information regarding your particular case. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.