The amount of jail time associated with drug offenses can be hard to pin down sometimes. Drug crimes may range from minor misdemeanors to severe felonies, and defendants might face a lot or a little jail time.
How much jail time you are facing for drug crimes in Philadelphia depends on the exact nature of the charges. Felony charges tend to come with much longer sentences in state prison, while misdemeanors are more often punished with shorter sentences in jail. We must also consider the various aggravating and mitigating factors of your case that can increase or decrease your potential incarceration term. Once we have an idea of the possible sentence in your case, we can take steps to reduce or avoid the penalties. Plea bargains and diversion programs are popular methods of avoiding harsh jail terms for drug offenses.
If you are charged with a drug offense, you might be facing some very harsh penalties. Our Philadelphia drug crimes defense lawyers can help you determine just what kind of penalties are involved and how to avoid them. For a free case assessment, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.
How Much Jail Time Can I Be Sentenced to for a Drug Crime in Philadelphia?
Drug crimes tend to run the gamut of criminal charges in Pennsylvania. Many non-violent drug offenses are charged as misdemeanors. However, many other drug offenses are far more serious and are often charged as felonies.
For example, under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act of 1972, simple possession offenses may be charged as misdemeanors. Meanwhile, drug trafficking offenses under 18 Pa.C.S. § 7508 may face felony charges.
. According to 18 Pa.C.S. § 1104, a third-degree misdemeanor may be punished by up to 1 year in jail. A second-degree misdemeanor can be penalized with up to 2 years in jail. Finally, a first-degree misdemeanor can be punished with up to 5 years in jail. While third-degree misdemeanors may be less intimidating, upper-level misdemeanors may come with significant time behind bars, especially if multiple counts are charged.
Felonies are also divided into 3 categories with different levels of sentencing. Third-degree felonies may come with prison terms of up to 7 years. For second-degree felonies, the prison term limit is 10 years. Finally, for first-degree felonies, perhaps the most serious criminal charges, a defendant may face up to 20 years in prison.
There is a wide variety of drug crimes that can be assessed in Philadelphia, and the nature of your charges will depend on the various circumstances of your specific case. Our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys can help you understand what penalties are associated with your charges.
Factors That Can Increase or Decrease Potential Jail Time for Drug Crimes in Philadelphia
While laws and statutes provide us with a good idea of what to expect when charged with a drug offense, there is a multitude of factors that can influence the outcome of a case and the potential jail or prison sentence. These aggravating and mitigating factors might lead a court to impose harsher or more lenient penalties. Our Northeast Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers can identify these factors in your case and try to use them to your advantage.
Factors That Lead to Increased Jail Time
Factors that might worsen a potential jail sentence are known as aggravating factors. While some aggravating factors are specifically mentioned in statutes, others are not. This can make spotting aggravating factors difficult in some cases. For example, using a weapon during a drug offense may not only lead to an increase in charges for your alleged drug offense, but it can also lead to additional weapons charges. However, things like showing no remorse are more subjective.
Other aggravating factors might include the overall size and severity of the offense. For example, a person dealing drugs on their local street corner might face smaller charges than someone dealing drugs on a city-wide scale. Many of these aggravating circumstances will be worked out ahead of time when your charges are being assessed. Others will come out in the courtroom when the prosecutor presents their case to the jury.
Factors That Can Reduce Jail Time
There are also factors and circumstances that might cause the potential jail time in your case to decrease. These mitigating factors tend to be things that make you look good or sympathetic to a judge or jury. For example, a judge might impose a more lenient sentence if you have expressed remorse for the offense, have cooperated with law enforcement, or have a clean criminal record.
Some mitigating factors are so significant that they affect sentencing guidelines. For example, if a defendant is found to be mentally ill, their sentence could be reduced or even averted in favor of a different resolution. For example, a defendant with serious mental health issues might be found guilty but sent to a mental health institution rather than a jail or prison. Our Montgomery criminal defense attorneys can use the mitigating factors in your case to reduce your possible jail time as much as possible.
Reducing Jail Time for Drug Crimes in Philadelphia
Aside from arguing over mitigating factors, there are other ways to reduce your potential jail time for drug offenses. One such method is to reach a plea agreement with prosecutors. A plea agreement is a bargain struck between you and the prosecutors. You would agree to plead guilty, and the prosecutor would reduce your charges. The reduced charges would carry a lighter sentence than if you were found guilty at a trial.
Our Bucks County criminal defense lawyers can also try to enter you into an alternative sentencing program. Drug Court is a popular sentencing alternative geared toward non-violent offenders with significant drug dependency issues. The point of the program is to rehabilitate defendants rather than punish them. If you complete the program, the judge can dismiss your char and you will spend no time in jail.
If all else fails, we can fight your charges in court. One method is to suppress as much unlawful or inadmissible evidence as possible. For example, if the police seized the drugs in your case during an illegal search, those drugs are tainted and cannot be used against you in court. Without evidence of drugs, the prosecutor’s case is severely weakened, and they might be inclined to offer a very favorable plea deal or even drop the charges.
Call Our Philadelphia Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys
Jail time for drug offenses can be unpredictable because these offenses vary so widely and involve numerous factors to consider. Our Delaware County criminal defense lawyers have the skills and experience to fight your charges and hopefully avoid serious jail time. For a free case review, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.