I’ve written previously articles and made a video on the decriminalization of marijuana in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the potential legalization of the drug in New Jersey in 2018. Despite the move to decriminalize this controlled substance it’s important to understand that the sale of it is still a felony in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Our firm has represented a number of individuals who are now charged with the sale of marijuana and it’s important to understand that the sale or the possession with the intent to distribute or deliver is a felony level offense, whereas simple possession is a misdemeanor and in some cases a summary offense in the Commonwealth and the Garden State.
Mandatory Minimum Sentencing & Marijuana Felony Offenses
While Pennsylvania does not subject a person convicted of the illegal sale of this substance to any mandatory minimum sentencing, a felony record will certainly hinder a person’s professional and educational opportunities later in life as I wrote in my recent book “Bumps On Your Road To Success”, which is available as a free download on my website.
Possession vs. Possession with the Intent to Deliver Marijuana
Possession with the intent to deliver requires the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person sold or intended to transfer a drug to another. Keep in mind that the exchange of money is technically irrelevant but obviously something that the defense can use to argue the person was in mere possession rather than intending to sell or distribute it. To prove PWID, the prosecution must first establish possession either through actual or constructive means. Constructive possession requires the use of circumstantial evidence and more than likely a drug expert to testify that the circumstantial evidence indicates intent to distribute. An expert is not needed if the Commonwealth can present evidence of observed sales or transactions through police officer testimony or other witnesses.
If you’re charged with PWID it’s important that your attorney distinguishes between simple possession and this offense as simple possession is a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and a much less serious offense.
Sentencing and Marijuana PWID In Pennsylvania
If you are convicted of possession with the intent to deliver marijuana, the sentencing consequences are much less severe than a drug like cocaine, heroin, PCP, or meth. Despite these lower consequences, it’s important to keep in mind that a felony conviction is not expungeable or sealable in Pennsylvania and it will remain on your record forever. Only a pardon from the governor can remove this type of conviction and the likelihood of that is slim to none in most cases. A person convicted of PWID-Marijuana with no prior criminal record, more than likely faces probation but a judge could sentence an individual to a short county prison sentence. In most situations a person convicted of this crime will not face a state prison sentence but the maximum punishment for an ungraded misdemeanor is 7 years in prison in the Commonwealth.