I have written previous articles on different types of drugs and controlled substances such as cocaine, crack, heroine, meth, and marijuana along with the severity of those charges based on their classification or schedule. A drug charge can either be a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances surrounding the person’s arrest; specifically the amount of drugs found along with the accused person’s actions prior to arrest (observed transactions or sales).
In addition to these factors the prosecution will also argue that the paraphernalia found at the time of the arrest is evidence of a more serious charge. For instance, if the person is arrested with a large amount of drugs, cash, multiple cells phones, and items used to distribute or sell those drugs this is all strong evidence of a felony charge as opposed to a misdemeanor possession charge.
If, however, the person simply has an average amount of cash (this is a matter of opinion) and paraphernalia such as syringes, rolling paper, matches, and pipes (bongs) this would be more indicative of a misdemeanor charge. Drug paraphernalia is actually a separate criminal charge and it is sometimes added in addition to the other charges of simple possession and/or possession with the intent to deliver. Drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor charge which won’t, however, result in a license suspension if the person is convicted.
Your criminal defense lawyer shouldn’t ignore the drug paraphernalia aspect of your criminal drug case. Focusing simply on the drugs and the arrest is simply the wrong strategy. Issues like reasonable suspicion and probable cause are obviously important to the pre-trial aspects of your criminal case as are issues like constructive vs. actual possession at trial. It is sometimes difficult, if not impossible, to avoid a criminal charge. A conviction for a misdemeanor however is far less serious than a felony conviction.
The law is also changing in Pennsylvania with regards to non-violent misdemeanor convictions like drug possession. While you may not be eligible for an expungement, you may be able to a have your record sealed. Check out my article on this topic. I also encourage you to visit my resource section for more criminal defense strategies.