Heroin and other narcotics remain illegal under both federal and state laws. Most states (including Pennsylvania) classify opiates and other hard drugs as Schedule I drugs, meaning they have the highest potential for abuse and thus carry heavy criminal penalties. Federal charges may apply if crimes involve multiple states or are part of a federal investigation. But many states now offer drug treatment programs for non-violent first offenders who plead guilty to state charges, providing an alternative to incarceration.
Simple Possession of Heroin In Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania heroin laws, simple possession of less than 1 gram of heroin (including other opiates and synthetic opioids) is charged as a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail for a first offense. Subsequent offenses can result in prison terms of up to three years.
It is also a separate crime to buy heroin in Pennsylvania, although defendants charged with simple possession rarely face the additional charges. Additionally, the state makes it a misdemeanor to be in possession of heroin paraphernalia, whether or not it contains residue of the drug. For instance, possession of a syringe, spoon, and lighter may qualify as paraphernalia.
Pennsylvania Drug Court & Heroin Charges
You may also qualify for Pennsylvania’s drug court program. Typically, the drug court consists of a judge, prosecutor, defense counsel, treatment provider, probation officers, and others. The goal of drug court programs — which require frequent drug testing and drug counseling sessions during a probation period — is to treat addicts and reduce recidivism.
Dealing and Trafficking Heroin in Pennsylvania
Charges for dealers and traffickers are much more serious and charged as felonies, up to 15 years in prison, with mandatory minimum sentences guaranteeing some amount of incarceration. The sale of heroin to a minor can result in double penalties.
Scroll down for a basic synopsis of Pennsylvania heroin laws.
|Code Section||Tit. 35 §780-101, et seq.|
|Possession||Misdemeanor, 1 yr. and/or $5000; Subsequent offense: 3 yrs. and/or $25,000|
|Sale||Felony, 15 yrs. and/or $250,00 or higher fine if necessary to recover drug profit; Subsequent offense or sale to minor: double penalties|