How to handle drug charges
Being arrested can be a scary thing for anyone and posting drug charge bail can be challenging and confusing if you’ve never been in this position before. Unfortunately, there are people that getting arrested on drug charges is almost as common as getting a speeding ticket. For those people posting bail on drug charges isn’t an unusual thing for them either.
In most states, including Pennsylvania Drug charge bail is determined by a judge, and bail can be different for everyone who is arrested on drug charges. In this state, there are five different categories of bail:
- Recognizance – If there is an ideal bail, this is the one. This requires the defendant to sign a form agreeing to return for their court date. Eligibility for this requires the defendant to prove the following: Strong employment or family connections in the community; no indication of being a “flight risk” and skipping out on bail or eluding law enforcement; no danger to self, the general public or any possible witnesses.
- Nonmonetary Conditions – The defendant must satisfy the court they are able to comply with certain conditions set forth by the just that do not involve money, such as leaving the jurisdiction.
- Unsecured Bail Bond – The defendant is not required to pay bail or make a deposit with money, instead, they put up collateral and sign an agreement that they are liable for the money if they violate bail, such as not appearing for a court date or traveling outside of the jurisdiction.
- Nominal Bail – This type of release is referred to as surety bonds and requires a small deposit that is deemed to be sufficient security to release the defendant while a bail bondsman provides surety. The bail bondsman may require collateral, like a lien on the defendant’s home.
- Monetary condition – Compliance with a monetary condition that is a reasonable amount to ensure the defendant appears and complies with bail conditions.
How much is bail for a drug charge?
There is not uniform bail for drug charges. Drug charge bail bonds can be significantly different based on the charges. For example, a misdemeanor versus a felony, a felony charge can be five to ten times higher because of possible flight risk. The factors that a judge considers when setting bail are:
- Defendant’s age
- Any current or outstanding charges
- Defendant’s criminal history
- Prior record
- History of not appearing in court
- Any perceived threat of danger
- Defendant’s record of substance abuse
- Based on these considerations, a judge can rule the drug charge denied bail.
How much time can you get for a drug charge?
If a drug possession charge becomes a conviction, the penalties in Pennsylvania can vary, using the same considerations as above for setting drug charge bail, in addition to other factors that could influence a judge’s ruling. The following are baselines, and a judge may follow these to the letter or could rule less or more than these baselines:
- Drug Possession First Offense: Misdemeanor with 12 months of jail time with a fine not to exceed $5000.
- Subsequent Offense: Misdemeanor, up to thirty-six months of jail time with a fine not to exceed $25,000.
- Small Amount Marijuana Possession: Misdemeanor up to thirty days of jail time with a fine not to exceed $500.
- Drug Paraphernalia Possession: Misdemeanor up to twelve months of jail time with a fine not to exceed $2,500.
Other penalties that a judge can add to these or may be automatically included:
- Driver’s License Suspended
- Loss of the right to own or be in presence of a firearm
- A mandatory drug treatment program
- Child custody/visitation
Consequences a defendant can face outside of the judge’s ruling are loss of a job, car insurance canceled or premium increase, ineligible for student loans, etc.
Can a possession charge be dropped?
While rarely do the courts will drop the drug possession charges, it isn’t impossible. The strongest way for the defendant’s attorney to have charges dropped is to show that the prosecutor has failed to show proof during the discovery part of the trial.
Can you get bail on a felony charge?
In the state of Pennsylvania, drug charge bail protocol can vary between counties, however, the general rule for a defendant facing misdemeanor charges are mailed a statement of their charges and their court summons by mail, if they are not considered a flight risk.
Regarding a felony drug charge, bail will be set using the same factors of consideration that we listed earlier. This does not mean that every person facing drug charges may automatically post bail, and any charges of an offense that could be sentenced to death or life in prison, no bail will be set.
With drug trafficking charges, bail will be set at high by the judge because this initial appearance by the defendant is only supported by the affidavit of the arresting officer. If the affidavit states there was a controlled substance involved in the suspected drug trafficking, the bond judge will typically set the bond at a 6-figure amount.
Can you get probation for a felony charge?
Probation is possible for certain felony convictions which may include the defendant meeting certain requirements like maintaining employment, going to drug counseling, and other types of requirements. Violation of these stipulations of probation can result in the defendant being returned to jail, and probation revoked.
Being arrested for any type of offense is not to be taken lightly, and with charges as severe as drug charges, the accused should seek legal counsel immediately. Any person arrested with drug charges may remain silent and the right to an attorney who will follow through with a drug charge bail being posted. If you need bail for drug charges charges in Lebanon and Reading, PA, call 888-224-5711 today!