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Possession of cocaine is illegal in all 50 states. Depending on the weight of the cocaine that a defendant might be accused of possessing, and any prior criminal history that he or she may have, sentencing can be harsh, and prison terms can be lengthy.
A person must have a license to possess cocaine in Pennsylvania. Possession of the substance by the general public is prohibited by 35 P.S. section 780-113(a)(16). As per the statute, a person cannot knowingly or intentionally possess cocaine in one form or another unless he or she obtained it “directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription or order of a practitioner, or except as otherwise authorized by this act.”
Actual Possession vs. Constructive Possession of Cocaine
If a person is in actual possession of cocaine, he or she has it in their hand, pocket or somewhere else on their person. It might not be on their person either, but could be close enough to be easily grasped or accessed. Nobody else would have access to the drug. If a person is alleged to have been in constructive possession of cocaine, more than one person can have access to the drug and knowledge of the drug being in close proximity. Constructive possession might apply if you are in a car, and cocaine was found inside of the glove box, console or under a seat near or next to you. A person might also be charged with constructive possession if he or she is at a friend’s home and police execute a search warrant there and find cocaine.
Possession of Cocaine With Intent to Deliver
35 P.S. section 780-151 controls the crime of possession of cocaine with the intent to deliver. This is a far more serious charge than mere possession. Your intent to deliver can be shown in a variety of ways. For example, police had a legal wiretap and heard you make a deal to deliver a quantity of cocaine to a certain person and a specific place and time. Another way that police might show intent to deliver is through the quantity of cocaine and how it might have been packaged once they find it.
Defenses to Possession of Cocaine or Possession With Intent to Deliver
First, a person might have a prescription to possess a substance containing cocaine. His or her possession of the substance might be perfectly legal. Any person who has a valid license to possess or sell substances containing cocaine cannot be charged. Here are some other possible defenses:
Whether it’s actual possession, constructive possession or possession with intent to deliver of one or two grams of cocaine, there are harsh mandatory sentencing guidelines that you must face in Pennsylvania. On a first offense with no prior criminal history, you’re still looking at a year in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. On mere possession of 100 grams or more, a person is facing five years in prison and fines not to exceed $25,000.
If you’ve been arrested on any offense based on possession of cocaine, don’t give police a confession of any kind, even if they offer you a “great deal.” It probably isn’t enforceable by you. Rather than give the police and prosecutors the information that they need to convict you, exercise your right to remain silent, and contact along with your right to an attorney. Contact us instead. We’re going to listen to you and answer your questions. After that, we’ll advise you of the alternatives that are available to you.