Collateral Consequences of a Drug Conviction

A story in this local newspaper story mentions that a man and woman charged with drug offenses lived on “Beaver Farm Lane.” Locals will know that this is one of the housing assistance complexes – sometimes called “Section 8  Housing,” although not all of them are covered by Section 8 – maintained by the county. Half a pound, or roughly 227 grams, is well over the 30 grams, or 1 ounce, limit for personal use. Even assuming two people could combine their personal stash – a prospect not supported (or discounted) by any Superior Court case I’ve come across, but a novel theory nonetheless and that I’d love to try to argue one day – the presence of items “used in the sale of illegal substances” made it a foregone conclusion that they’d both be charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID), an ungraded Felony offense.

Collateral Consequences

If she pleads guilty or is convicted, she’ll lose a several rights, including the right to drive for at least one year and her eligibility for most housing assistance permanently. This last loss is particularly relevant in the story above because the woman lives in one of these housing projects. Sadly, she and her children will likely find themselves struggling to find a place to live very soon. That is if she manages to avoid jail.

One bright spot for this family: Pennsylvania has opted out of the Federal law prohibiting individuals convicted of a drug offense from receiving TANF and SNAP monies, so she and her young children may still be eligible for that support.

What can you do?

There are, of course, exceptions to all of these rules, and nuances that simply cannot be covered in a blog entry. Anyone facing such a situation should try to speak with an experienced drug defense attorney.

Attorney Justin P. Miller in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania practices criminal defense and has defended countless individuals facing drug crimes in Pennsylvania. Contact him today for a free interview and consultation.