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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the federal government have laws against unlawful use, possession, distribution or production of certain drugs. These include cocaine, heroin, marijuana and amphetamines. The laws aim to reduce illegal drug use and cut down on drug-related crimes.
There are five categories, or "schedules," of drugs based on their potential for dependency and abuse as compared with their therapeutic value. Schedule I controlled substances have the highest potential for dependency and no accepted medical use. Schedule V drugs have a low potential for dependency and accepted medical uses.
The most severe penalties for illegal possession, sale or manufacture of drugs involve those listed in Schedule I. The Attorney General has the authority to delete, add or reschedule drugs. State schedules refer to or are based on federal schedules.
The punishment for drug crimes in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania generally depends on:
The most serious drug crimes are:
Possession of drugs with the intent to distribute them is a serious crime. Prosecutors can prove your intent to distribute drugs just by showing the quantity of the drug, without any evidence you actually distributed the drug.
In most states, possession of drugs for personal use is a serious crime. But in some states, possession of drugs for personal use is punished less severely than distribution crimes. For example, in some states, possession of a small amount of marijuana (less than 50 grams) is decriminalized or treated as a disorderly person's offense. If there's a conviction, the punishment is often probation or a fine, and not prison. However, possessing larger amounts of illegal drugs, even for personal use, may be a serious crime.
Most minimum sentences range from one year in jail to three years in prison for first-time offenders. The minimum sentences for repeat offenders? Three to 12 years in prison.
Some states have enhanced penalties for drug crimes. These apply if:
Enhanced punishments vary by state. You may also be in danger of "forfeiting" your property if you're convicted of a drug crime. For example, if your house is used to make and distribute drugs, the government may be able to seize it.
Special laws cover professional drug dealers. A "drug kingpin," or a person organizing, financing or managing a business to manufacture, transport or sell drugs, commits a serious crime.
There are special sentences for professional drug dealers. Federal law even has the death penalty for drug kingpins. Some states impose 25 years in prison without parole for professional drug dealers.