As a criminal defense attorney working in mostly rural Central Pennsylvania, I am constantly face-to-face with the heroin epidemic that is affecting both cities and small communities around the country. Recently, I was speaking to a Pennsylvania State Police officer about a case in which my client had been charged with the possession of heroin and the possession of a stolen firearm (which officers believe my client intended to sell in order to support a heroin habit). In my conversation with the state trooper, he asked rhetorically “what ever happened to just drinking beer?” His point was well taken. Heroin is not a drug used only by rock stars or on rough city streets. Its influence is everywhere-in small, quiet towns and friendly neighborhoods. Since relocating from the Boston area to State College over three years ago, I have handled hundreds of criminal cases in the central Pennsylvania region. I would estimate that some 80% of them are in some way related to heroin use, whether it is the sale or possession of heroin, or thefts, robberies, burglaries and other crimes committed by heroin-addicted individuals in order to support their habits. I have also handled numerous cases involving violence between heroin dealers.
My job as a criminal defense attorney is to advocate on behalf of people who have been charged with crimes. Often, there is no question that my client was involved in criminal activity. When it comes to heroin, I have represented countless people who were in possession of heroin for personal use as well as individuals who have been charged with possession with the intent to distribute large quantities of heroin. In all cases-regardless of the impact that heroin has on our communities and the lives it affects-I strive to be the best lawyer I can be and provide my clients with the best defense possible. However, though I have had many successes representing individuals in cases involving heroin, I often wonder why heroin has become so prevalent even here in sleepy Central Pennsylvania and what can be done to curb its use and availability.
Recently, I heard a story about a book called “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic” by author Sam Quinones. The book details the rise of heroin use in America over the last 20 years in the United States with a particular emphasis on the rise of heroin in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region. As of the writing of this article, I have not yet read it but I have a copy sitting on my desk and I look forward to learning more about why heroin seems to be so prevalent here in Pennsylvania these days.
I grew up here in State College, Pennsylvania before moving to Boston, Massachusetts where I went to college, earned my law degree and started practicing as a criminal defense attorney. As a teenager in State College, I cannot think of a single time I even heard of somebody using heroin. Things have changed. Heroin related deaths are on the rise here in Centre County and throughout Pennsylvania. Just last week, on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 a Berks County High School student passed out in a high school classroom after overdosing on heroin. Unfortunately, heroin use seems to be increasing, not decreasing.
As a State College criminal defense attorney, I know that representing individuals charged with crimes related to heroin can be particularly sensational and require an aggressive, experienced approach. Every case is different: For persons addicted to heroin, often times a case can be resolved with an approach directed towards treatment and rehabilitation. In the past, I have successfully argued to keep heroin-addicted persons facing state prison out of jail and into long-term residential rehabilitation as an alternative. For individuals facing charges related to possession with the intent to deliver heroin or an actual delivery, a different approach is required including extensive pretrial litigation and careful review of evidentiary issues to ensure that the rights of my client were not violated by overzealous police officers. In all cases, if you or a loved one has been charged with a crime related to heroin, you need a strong advocate on your side who will fight for you with every step.
Attorney Julian Allatt of Rehmeyer & Allatt in State College, Pennsylvania is an experienced drug defense attorney who will take the time to understand your case and work with you and your family to develop the smart and effective approach to your case. I invite you to contact my office for a free consultation to learn how the experienced State College criminal defense attorneys at Rehmeyer & Allatt can help you.