Last February, a massive drug bust in Centre County brought the heroin crisis in Pennsylvania to local and national attention. Over the last year, law enforcement officials and legislators have been working to crack down on evidence of drug use and sales across the entire state.
In the Centre City bust on February 6, 2014, narcotics officers found that drug traffickers had been bringing in large quantities of heroin to State College from Philadelphia, making multiple trips each week and bringing anywhere from 250 to 500 bags of heroin on each round. The operation had been in place since about 2011, and it took a widespread investigation led by the state Attorney General's Office Bureau of Narcotics Investigation to bring down the drug ring.
Now, one year later, heroin has become one of the most dangerous and addictive drugs on the market. The drug can be found in several varieties-some of which have proven to be deadly for even first-time users. The growing epidemic has lawmakers and law enforcement officials cracking down on drug dealers and users, drug defense attorneys say, and the Pennsylvania laws can land even a first-time user in serious trouble.
Heroin is considered a Schedule I drug in Pennsylvania, a classification given to opiates and hard drugs. Schedule I drugs are subject to the most severe criminal penalties because users can easily become addicted. Possession of even less than 1 gram of heroin is considered a misdemeanor crime, with a one-year maximum prison sentence. Possession of heroin paraphernalia-spoons, needles, or lighters-is also considered a misdemeanor crime, even if there is no evidence that heroin has been used with the items.
Not for College Students
Because the drug bust last year occurred near State College, many people have been led to believe that college students are the biggest offenders of heroin possession and use, and that the epidemic is centered on college campuses and universities. But attorneys in State College say this is not the case.
Heroin is a highly destructive drug, and college students would be hard-pressed to keep up with class schedules, coursework and outside activities if they were addicted. However, this does not mean that heroin cannot be found on college campuses. Students may get into selling drugs or paraphernalia, hoping to make a quick buck. Visitors to the college and students' friends may also bring heroin to school parties or events, and after a few uses, students may find themselves hooked on it.
Contact a Lawyer for Options
At Rehmeyer & Allat, Attorneys at Law, we represent students and residents in the area who have been charged with heroin offenses, from first-time use or possession to repeat offenses. Pennsylvania does have strict laws for heroin crimes, but the state also offers rehabilitation options, especially for those who have committed a lower-level offense or who are first-time offenders. To discuss your case, and the options available to you, contact one of our State College drug defense attorneys today.