Pittsburgh Heroin Lawyer
Heroin has been around a long time, but its use is now being described as an epidemic that has spread through America’s cities, small towns, and rural communities. Prices for the drug are often lower than the prices for other drugs that are considered less dangerous, making it attractive to many more people. In fact, a 201 survey of people in treatment for opioid addiction said that they used heroin rather than any other opioid simply because prescription opioids cost far more and are much harder to get. And heroin’s ubiquitous presence has made it a whole lot easier to find for younger people.
The net result: over 10,000 heroin overdose deaths occurred in the US in 2014. Overdose rates began skyrocketing in 2010, increasing about 37 percent each year. If you or a loved one is facing heroin related charges, contact Pittsburgh heroin charges lawyer Gary Gerson for help.
Heroin is one of the drugs classified as opioids. Morphine is a natural substance contained in the seed pods of Asian poppy plants; heroin is synthesized from morphine.
On the street, heroin has many different names, including horse, smack, junk, brown sugar, and the simple “H.” While it is usually depicted being injected in the popular media and entertainment sources, it can also be snorted or smoked.
Heroin is highly addictive. Its immediate effects are a sense of euphoria combined with slowing of the heart rate and breathing and a sense of heaviness. Once a person is addicted, withdrawal is a very painful, unpleasant experience, which prompts addicts to do whatever needs to be done to get more heroin and stave off the withdrawal.
Heroin Offenses in Pittsburgh, PA
Not surprisingly, given heroin’s health dangers, easy availability, and connection to criminal activity by addicts trying to fund their addiction, slowing or stopping the heroin trade has become a major priority of both state and federal authorities. Heroin possession, sale, distribution, etc. are crimes under both Pennsylvania and federal law.
In Pennsylvania, opiates, including heroin, are classed as Schedule I drugs. Simple possession of 1 gram or less is a misdemeanor. Larger amounts are more serious crimes, as are buying heroin, selling heroin, and manufacturing heroin. Even simple possession can bring jail time, and the more serious crimes certainly do. Sentences also vary depending on the number of prior convictions and other factors.
Pennsylvania also has a law prohibiting heroin paraphernalia, meaning anything typically associated with handling, using and distributing the drug: plastic bags used to hold and sell it, spoons used to heat it, lighters used to create the heat, etc.
It’s a misdemeanor, separate from any charges concerning the drug itself, to possess or to use the paraphernalia, regardless of whether there is any residue of heroin actually on the paraphernalia.
Federal Heroin Law
Federal charges related to heroin are also serious crimes that carry serious penalties. Simple possession generally calls for prison time and fines, the length and amount of which vary by whether it’s a repeat offense. Sale and manufacture carry much heavier penalties. Heroin trafficking offenses involving 100 grams or more carry very severe penalties, with the most severe—life in prison—reserved for trafficking a kilogram or more, and second offenses involving amounts between 100 and 1 kilogram. Fines can be in the millions of dollars which is why it’s so important to have a skilled heroin charges lawyer on your side.
Heroin Charges Defenses
Cases involving heroin vary tremendously, and the best defense to heroin charges varies from case to case, because the cases themselves vary so much. An experienced Pennsylvania drug offense lawyer knows what to look for in each case, and how to best employ the information and facts that weaken the prosecution’s claims.
Again, depending on the case, a heroin charge may be defended by:
Calling into question whether you ever really had “possession” of the drug; this is often a debatable question in cases where the police found the drug “in the vicinity” of where you were.
Calling into question whether you intended to distribute the drug or were simply unaware of what you were carrying for someone else
Questioning whether the stop and/or search/seizure was valid. The police cannot simply stop every person they don’t like; there needs to be a reasonable cause for the stop and search.
Calling into question whether the amount of the drug that police say was seized is accurate; that can affect the class of crime and your sentence.
Questioning whether the arrest was the result of entrapment. If you sold heroin to someone only because the police or someone working with them induced you to do it, you didn’t act with the intent needed to convict.
Determining whether a previous conviction was actually for the same offense, requiring the enhancement of penalties.
The Legal Help You Need, Experienced Pittsburgh Heroin Charges Lawyer
Charges of sale, distribution, or transportation of drugs threaten your future and the future of your entire family. Get the help of an experienced Pennsylvania heroin charges attorney and get it as soon as possible if you have been charged with a heroin offense.
In the Pittsburgh area, call lawyer Gary Gerson. Gary has accumulated more than 25 years of experience as a dedicated criminal defense attorney, practicing in both state and federal courts, and is committed to obtaining the best results for every one of his clients. Depending on your situation, he may be able to have your charges reduced or dropped entirely, or may be able to get you into a diversion program where you will receive treatment if you are an addict. In some cases, he may even be able to prevent charges from being filed against you at all, so the earlier you contact him the better. Make that call now.