Serving Scranton, Tunkhannock and Wyoming County
Every state has its scheme for regulating drugs and criminalizing drug-related behavior. The most typical approach is to categorize different classes of drugs into so-called schedules of controlled substances. The factors considered by federal and state laws in drug schedules vary, and in Pennsylvania, the state ordered these schedules based on a substance’s potential for abuse and medicinal value.
Schedules of Controlled Substances in Pennsylvania
There are five schedules under Pennsylvania law for controlled substances:
- Schedule I: LSD, marijuana, ecstasy, MDMA, etc. These substances are considered to have no accepted medicinal use and have a high potential for substance abuse and addiction.
- Schedule II: Crystal meth, cocaine, oxycodone, etc. Although these substances have limited medicinal uses, there are strict restrictions on usage and a recognized high potential for abuse.
- Schedule III: Vicodin, ketamines, anabolic steroids, and some barbiturates. These narcotic substances have a some risk of abuse but higher therapeutic or medicinal use.
- Schedule IV: Valium, Xanax, Soma, etc. The controlled substances listed in this schedule have a lower potential for addiction and abuse and higher medicinal values.
- Schedule V: Cough medicines that contain a particular amount of codeine, and other prescription drugs. These controlled substances have minimal potential for abuse and high therapeutic, medicinal values.
Offenses involving controlled substances are either possession or trafficking and distribution crimes. The penalties for possession charges in Pennsylvania differ depending on individual factors such as the kind of drug involved, the amount, and the defendant’s criminal history. Simple possession charges are misdemeanors, with penalties of up to three years of incarceration, up to $25,000 in fines, and possible suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license.
However, for drug trafficking, Pennsylvania statutes provide mandatory minimum sentencing requirements that offer minimal flexibility. These offenses include drug trafficking, drug possession with the intent to distribute or deliver, or getting a controlled substance using fraudulent means. If the drug being trafficked is a Schedule I or II narcotic controlled substance, the crime is a felony with corresponding penalties of up to fifteen years in jail and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. If the drug involved is crystal meth, PCP, cocaine, or marijuana more than 1,000 lbs., the crime is a felony that may result in ten years of incarcerationand a fine up to $100,000. If the offense involves Schedule IV substances, the crime is still a felony punishable by up to three years of incarceration and up to a $10,000 fine. Finally, if the substance is a Schedule V substance, then the offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year of incarceration and a maximum fine of up to $5,000.
Pennsylvania prosecutes drug crimes persistently and stringently. The Peters Law Firm provides effective criminal defense against drug charges in the Northeastern Pennsylvania area. In the Scranton area, contact us at (570) 963-1610, Tunkhannock and Wyoming County at (570) 836-0700 or throughout Northeast Pennsylvania at our main office in Clarks Summit by calling (570) 585-0707 or by visiting us. We can provide you with an initial consultation where we will take the time to listen to the facts and help you figure out what your next step should be.