Pennsylvania Criminal Law

Criminal law in Pennsylvania consists of several statutes and articles of code that dictate criminal offenses, punishments, and procedures. The criminal laws of Pennsylvania can be detailed and difficult to understand. The information contained below is merely a guide; contact a Pennsylvania criminal attorney for any advice.

Drug Possession in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania drug laws make it illegal to possess marijuana or other, more serious, narcotics such as cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamines. The law elevates the penalties for possession with intent to sell. Some examples of punishments for possession and sale of drugs in Pennsylvania (not exclusive):

  • Possession of Marijuana in Pennsylvania
    • less than 30 grams is a misdemeanor that could result in a 30-day jail sentence and/or a $500 fine
    • over 30 grams is a misdemeanor carrying a punishment of up to 1-year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine for a first offense
  • Sale of Marijuana in Pennsylvania
    • small quantities (2 – 10 pounds), a defendant faces up to 1 year in prison and a $5,000 fine
    • quantities above 50 pounds the sentence can increase to at least 5 years in prison and a fine of at least $50,000.
  • Possession of Narcotics in Pennsylvania
    • possessing small quantities can result in a felony conviction and up to 1 year in prison and a $5,000 fine
    • depending on the drug, a first time possession of 5 grams or more can result in a sentence up to 5 years in prison or more
  • Sale of Narcotics in Pennsylvania
    • sunder 10 grams could result in a 2 – 5 year prison sentence and fine of at least $5,000 - $15,000 depending on the type of drug
    • minimum sentences between 5 – 15 years and minimum fines over $100,000 depending may be implemented for larger quantities and the type of drug

If you have been arrested or charged for possession or possession with intent to sell, contact a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney with further questions.

Assault in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, assault is a crime and includes what many people know as “assault and battery.” A simple assault in Pennsylvania arises when a person intentionally, recklessly, or negligently causes injury to another, or intentionally puts another in a realistic fear of imminent harm without actually causing the harm. Simple assault is a misdemeanor that can be punishable by a maximum of 2 years in jail.

Assault can be elevated to a felony if it is considered aggravated assault given its circumstances. Aggravated assault in Pennsylvania can occur if the accused causes serious bodily harm, assaults a police officer or other public safety official, or uses a weapon in commission of the assault. Aggravated assault in Pennsylvania is a felony and can be punishable by up to as many as 10 years in prison if a serious offense.

Pennsylvania Drunk Driving – DUI

A Pennsylvania DUI is a serious matter, and a first time offense carries some mandatory minimum penalties that can increase depending on the level of intoxication. An offender could face a mandatory six-month probationary period, a fine of up to $300, a requirement to attend alcohol safety school set up by the Department of Motor Vehicles, suspension or loss of license, and/or mandatory drug and alcohol treatment classes. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Pennsylvania, contact a Pennsylvania DUI attorney.

Right to Jury in Pennsylvania

All Pennsylvania defendants in a criminal action have a right to be tried by a jury selected at random from a representative cross-section of the population. The defendant may waive this right by either affirmatively requesting a bench trial, or by not demanding the right be exercised.

Trial Date in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania a defendant has a right to a trial within 180 days of a criminal complaint if that defendant is incarcerated, and within 365 days of the complaint if the defendant is released on bail. Either party may request a continuance in the action to be granted at the discretion of the Court.

Sentence Review / Appeals in Pennsylvania

Following a conviction, a defendant in Pennsylvania may file a post-trial motion challenging the sentence, and/or an appeal requesting a higher court review the sentence and overturn it. If a motion is filed, it will ask the trial judge to acquit the defendant despite the verdict, or ask the judge for a new trial. An appeal will ask a higher court to find fault in the ruling of the trial court and demand a new trial. Consult a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney for specific issues regarding an appeal or sentence review.

Pennsylvania Criminal Statutes and Code:

Click here for the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes:

  1. Drug Possession in Pennsylvania
    • Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 18: Crimes and Offenses, §7508
  2. Assault in Pennsylvania
    • Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 18: Crimes and Offenses, §§ 2701, 2702
  3. Pennsylvania Drunk Driving – DUI
    • Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 75: Vehicles, §§ 3802, 3804

Click Here for the Pennsylvania Code:

  1. Right to Jury in Pennsylvania
    • The Pennsylvania Code, Title 234: Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 620
  2. Trial Date in Pennsylvania
    • The Pennsylvania Code, Title 234: Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 600
  3. Sentence Review / Appeals in Pennsylvania
    • The Pennsylvania Code, Title 234: Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 720
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