In the state of Pennsylvania, the penalties for drug offenses become much more serious if you are in a school zone. According to The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of two years of incarceration if you are charged with possession with intent to deliver or delivery of drugs within 1000 feet of a public or private school or within 250 feet of a playground or recreation area or while on a school bus.
Because of the serious charges and the mandatory minimum jail sentence in school zone cases, it is very important to contact an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer whenever you are arrested for drug charges in a school zone case. The Pennsylvania criminal defense law firm of Lawrence R. Dworkin has represented many clients successfully in school zone cases and we can put our legal knowledge and skill to work for you.
Under the Controlled Substances Act, the mandatory minimum sentence for selling or possession with intent to sell drugs in a school zone is two years “notwithstanding any other provision of this title,” In other words, your sentence is made harsher because of the fact that you were in a school zone at the time you committed the drug crime.
Mandatory minimum sentences means that if you are convicted, you are going to go to jail. Your only options, therefore, are to try to defend yourself to avoid conviction or to try to arrange a plea bargain to lesser charges to avoid school zone charges.
A Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer can help you to raise various defenses. Your attorney, for example, may argue that your constitutional rights were violated and that the evidence collected against you in the drug crime case should not be admissible. If you sold drugs to a law enforcement officer, an entrapment defense may be possible depending upon the circumstances. If the drugs were not actually under your control, then an argument can be made that you didn’t possess the drugs at all. Your Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer will outline all of the different possible defenses available to you and you can make an informed choice with the help of your attorney as to whether defending yourself is the right course of action.
If you do not have valid defenses to raise, your lawyer may be able to help you to plea bargain down your charges and potentially have the prosecutor avoid charging you specifically for selling the drugs in the school zone so that you can avoid the mandatory minimum sentence. The ability to do this is going to depend upon the evidence against you, the circumstance surrounding your case and the discretion of the district attorney assigned to prosecute your case.
In every situation, however, it is best to get legal advice from a competent criminal defense lawyer so you can achieve the most favorable outcome possible in a school zone case. The Pennsylvania criminal defense firm of Lawrence R. Dworkin can help. Contact us today using our online form or at 610-566-0610 to learn how we can assist you in your school zone case.