Pennsylvania has some of the strictest consequences when it comes to drug possession anywhere in the country. Even marijuana, which is still a controlled substance, has possession charges for as little as a dimebag that can be subject to mandatory minimum sentences. Even drug residue that is found in a pipe can subject a potential defendant to the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. What’s worse is than in many counties throughout the state, the mandatory minimum sentence guidelines are used ruthlessly and aggressively. You’ll need a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney who has a good relationship with the court to navigate this rocky terrain.
A Need For Extreme Caution
Consider this scenario. You’re traveling to a relative’s house and you’ve left an old pipe in your glovebox. You completely forgot it was there. You don’t have any actual pot on you, but that doesn’t matter because residue can be considered evidence of possession. You don’t realize it, but you’re within 3 football field’s distance to a high school, or a grammar school. You get pulled over and the officer searches your car. He finds the pipe, and suddenly you’re facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 to 4 years.
Another problem is how broadly the term school zone is defined. It gives extreme leeway to prosecutors when determining whether they’ll prosecute using the mandatory minimum sentence. Homes can fall within the lines of a school zone, and there may be some areas in which most of the city falls within a school zone.
In some cases, any property that is owned by a school can be determined to be a school zone. In one instance, it was argued that a duck pond, as property of a school, was technically a school zone and that anyone smoking a joint within 3 football fields in all directions, was subject to mandatory minimum sentencing.
Have You Been Charged With a Drug Crime?
If so, you’re going to need a Pennsylvania defense lawyer who can advocate on your behalf: someone who realizes that a small mistake should not destroy your life.
School Zone Mandatory Minimum Sentence for Drug Offenses in Pennsylvania
Even if you are arrested and charged, there is still hope. An experienced criminal defense attorney in Pennsylvania, like Michael Applebaum, can help you aggressively combat charges, and many will provide a free initial consultation. Investing in your own legal representation may help you avoid thousands of dollars in fines, as well as possible felony convictions and state prison time, depending on the severity of the charge.