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Pennsylvania Drug Distribution / Trafficking Laws

Overview of Pennsylvania Drug Trafficking / Distribution Laws

Drug trafficking or distribution in Pennsylvania is often termed "Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance." Controlled substances include illegal drugs and narcotics (i.e. marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, heroin, etc.) To prove a case for drug trafficking or distribution, a prosecutor must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant manufactured, grew or obtained an illegal drug and then delivered it to another person or intended to deliver it to another person in Pennsylvania.

It is important to note that even if the defendant did not have the intent to distribute or deliver the drugs to another person, the prosecutor may still charge the defendant with possession of the drugs. This is a separate offense but is also covered by the same law governing drug trafficking.

Penalties and Sentences

The charge for drug trafficking/distribution in Pennsylvania is typically a felony, even if it is the first time that the defendant is found guilty of this offense. The factors determining the severity of the charge are the type of drug, the amount found in possession, and the classification the state puts them in. Drug trafficking can carry prison sentences of seven to twenty years in prison. In certain situations, a prosecutor may agree to a plea bargain for a lesser charge in exchange for the defendant pleading guilty or for information for a higher priority investigation.

Below you will find more detailed information on Pennsylvania drug trafficking/distribution charges.

Code Section

Pennsylvania Health and Safety Code, Title 35, Section 780-113


Defenses to Drug Trafficking / Distribution Charges
  • Lack of intent to distribute or deliver the drugs to another person
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Insufficient quantity of the drug
  • Drugs did not belong to the defendant
  • The defendant is a practitioner licensed to distribute such drugs in good faith in the course of his/her professional practice (i.e. a medical doctor or pharmacist)
  • Unlawful search and seizure
  • Entrapment


See above, usually a felony

Federal charges possible?

Yes, depending if your case crossed state lines

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Pennsylvania Criminal Laws Related Resources:

Charged with Drug Distribution/Trafficking in Pennsylvania? Contact a Lawyer

Whether charged with drug trafficking or distribution, you can face serious consequences if convicted. And, depending on the facts of your case, you may also be facing federal charges if your alleged conduct crossed state laws. For these reasons, it's best to contact a local drug crime lawyer if you've been charged under Pennsylvania drug distribution/trafficking laws.

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