Common Criminal Cases in Philadelphia (State Court)
1. Drug Cases – The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act
Drug cases are among the most common types of criminal cases in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act (Act) defines drug possession offenses. See 35 Pennsylvania Statutes § 780-113. Common offenses under the Act include Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession with Intent to Deliver/Manufacture. Common drugs in Philadelphia criminal cases include marijuana, cocaine, crack or heroin.
Other cases may involve prescription drug charges, i.e., Intentional Possession of a Controlled Substance by a Person Not Registered. These cases often involve narcotic drugs such as codeine, morphine, etc.
Potential sentences for drug offenses vary and depend on many factors, such as the quantity and quality of the substances involved, the individual’s prior criminal record, and whether or not they were possessed for personal use.
Also, it is important to note that Pennsylvania criminal sentencing law has undergone major, recent changes. Due to a recent United States Supreme Court case, Alleyne v. United States, Pennsylvania appellate courts have overturned sentences imposed pursuant to specific mandatory minimum sentence laws, such as Pennsylvania’s drug free school zone law. If you are facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania, be sure to speak to a qualified lawyer who can assess whether the Alleyne case applies in your situation.
2. Gun/Firearm Cases – The Uniform Firearms Act
In addition to drug possession/distribution cases, gun cases are common in Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act of 1995 makes it illegal to possess a firearm without a license or permit. See 18 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Sections 6101, et seq. In addition, it is illegal for someone who has previously been convicted of a felony to possess a firearm. These cases are commonly referred to as “VUFA” cases (Violation of the Uniform Firearms Act).
In Pennsylvania, convictions for firearm offenses often carry significant penalties including mandatory minimum prison sentences, especially when a firearm was used to carry out a violent offense such as robbery.
3. Assault Charges
Criminal assault cases in Philadelphia often involve charges of Aggravated Assault and Simple Assault. Related offenses may include Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Terroristic Threats or Harassment.
Serious assault offenses are graded as felonies, the penalties for which may include lengthy prison sentences, depending on the circumstances. Depending on the facts, an individual charged with and convicted of Aggravated Assault may be sentenced to a mandatory prison term. In addition, pursuant to Pennsylvania’s sentencing guidelines, individuals with certain prior convictions, such as prior violent offense convictions, will likely face increased penalties.
Philadelphia Criminal Defense
For over 25 years, attorney Marc Neff has been handling criminal cases in Philadelphia including drug and gun cases. Contact the Law Offices of Marc Neff at (215) 563-9800.