1. A Drug Arrest or Conviction May Come up on a Background Check
A study by the Society for Human Resource Management revealed that 92 percent of employers conduct some type of background check before extending a job offer to a potential employee. In addition, state and federal laws require background checks for certain professions. These professions include education, healthcare, government, financial services or Information Technology (IT) and computer-related fields.
An employer’s background check might uncover a record of a drug possession arrest or conviction. This, in turn, might prevent the company from extending a job offer to a prospective employee. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your drug possession case does not result in a criminal conviction.
2. You May Qualify for a First-Offender Program and Avoid a Criminal Record
Bucks County offers a number of pre-trial diversion programs for individuals charged with a first-time drug possession offense. Those programs include Community Accountability Program (CAP), Bucks County District Court Drug Diversion Program (DCDP), Section 17 and Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD). The Bucks County District Attorney must approve an applicant’s admission into each program.
Each diversion program has specific requirements, including drug counseling, payment of court costs and community service. Individuals who successfully complete the conditions of the first-offender program are eligible for dismissal of their charges and expungement of their criminal record. I have extensive experience with the application and admission process for all Bucks County pre-trial diversion programs for drug possession.
3. You Can Face Charges for a Felony Drug Crime Even if the Drugs Found were for Personal Use
A person may face the felony charge of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance even if the drugs that the police recover were consumed for personal use only. Unfortunately, the police often claim that the suspect was planning to deliver the drugs to another person. The police will base this claim on the weight of the drugs seized, the presence of drug packaging or the discovery of large amounts of cash near the contraband.
However, in many cases, the presence of this type of evidence is entirely consistent with the personal use of the drugs rather than drug delivery. Furthermore, many defenses may be available if you are facing a felony drug crime charge in Bucks County.
4. It is Illegal to Possess Synthetic Marijuana in Pennsylvania
Many people mistakenly believe that it is legal to possess synthetic marijuana (also known as synthetic cannabinoids) in Pennsylvania. Synthetic cannabinoids are artificial or human-made drugs created to mirror the properties of the main active ingredient in marijuana (THC) that causes people to become high.
The possession of a synthetic cannabinoids is illegal under Pennsylvania law and federal law. The Pennsylvania Drug Act classifies the simple possession of synthetic marijuana as a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail. Synthetic cannabinoid products can be purchased in dry plant form to be smoked like traditional marijuana. In addition, they are available in liquid form for ingestion through vaping. The various brand names of synthetic marijuana include:
5. Your Charges May be Dismissed if the Police Violated Your Rights
Most Bucks County drug possession cases involve a search and seizure of a controlled substance in an individual’s vehicle, home or person. Both the United States Constitution and Pennsylvania State Constitution strictly limit a police officer’s ability to conduct a search and seizure of an individual’s person or property.
The police must obtain a search warrant, receive consent from the subject of a search or demonstrate some other legally recognized exception to the warrant requirement before conducting a drug search. The police must do this to ensure the legality of any subsequent search and seizure of evidence.
Evidence may be excluded from your case if a judge believes the police did not follow the law during the search and seizure of drug evidence. This can result in the withdrawal or dismissal of your drug possession charges. Therefore, it is important to consider all available drug possession defenses if you are facing drug charges in Bucks County.
6. Your Money and Vehicle May be Seized by the Police if You Are Charged with Drug Possession
The Pennsylvania Controlled Substance Forfeiture Act gives police the right to seize your money and the your vehicle in certain drug possession cases. Importantly, the police may seize your property even if you are only facing a misdemeanor simple possession of drugs charge. In most cases, the Bucks County District Attorney will file a Petition for Forfeiture after the police size the property.
Under Pennsylvania’s drug forfeiture law, the prosecutor must demonstrate a connection between the property seized and some type of illegal drug activity under the Pennsylvania Drug Act. In a forfeiture hearing, the prosecutor bears the initial burden of proof to establish evidence of any of the following:
- The seized money was furnished in exchange for a controlled substance; or
- The seized money was traceable to a drug transaction; or
- The seized money was intended for use in facilitating a drug transaction; or
- The seized vehicle was used to facilitate a drug transaction.
In many cases, the prosecutor cannot establish a connection between the seized currency/property and any type of illegal activity. Therefore, it is important to contact an experienced Bucks County criminal defense attorney if the police seize your money, vehicle or other property during a drug possession arrest.
7. Your Drug Arrest Record May Qualify for Expungement
In Pennsylvania, an Order of Expungement will result in the destruction of the criminal records related to your drug possession arrest. Individuals who successfully complete the conditions of ARD, DCDP, CAP and Section 17 are eligible for expungement of their criminal records. You may also qualify for criminal record expungement if you were acquitted of the drug charges after a trial. Finally, your drug charges are eligible for expungement if your case was withdrawn by the prosecutor or dismissed by a judge.
A criminal record expungement will permanently remove the records in your case and substantially improve your employment and financial opportunities. I can guide you through the application and admissions requirements for a Bucks County criminal record expungement.
Contact a Bucks County Drug Possession Attorney
I have over a decade of experience providing skilled and aggressive representation to individuals charged with drug possession crimes in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Contact me if you or a loved one is facing a drug possession charge. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Appointments are available after business hours and on weekends. Call today for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.