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First time offense, charged with Marijuana-Small Amount Personal Use & Use/Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. (PA) What to do?

Red Hill, PA |

I was in a car with 2 friends parked in my neighborhood. In the AoPC the officer lists his side of why he pulled us over "parked in front of a residence with no vehicles in the driveway, as I passed the vehicle, I observed windows fogged and movement in the vehicle. I turned around and to check the occupants." The officer questioned us and I handed him my bag with the above things. I was a passenger.

I went to the public defenders officer and they denied me a PD because I was overqualified. Talking over with my father he says I should just defend myself in the Preliminary hearing and plead no contest. I'm afraid without someone representing my case I'll get placed in jail and my charges will be absurd. I am saving money for these charges and have far to many bills (Car Insurr. Rent Phone)

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Attorney answers 5


This is one time that you should not listen to your father. With all due respect, he is dead wrong in this. Being a dad, I don't say this lightly. These are misdemeanors and need to be handled professionally. Typically, the PD office rejects clients because they earn too much money. Each county is different. What county were you in when this happened? Bottom line, there are things that can be done to help you and possibly prevent a conviction. But you need an experienced criminal defense laywer to represent you.


I would suggest revisiting this issue with your father or tapping into any other source of financial help. The advice provided by your father can't be endorsed by me. Start reaching out to local, qualified criminal defense attorneys to discuss the matter privately. Most who are associated with this website will speak with you initially without charge. Some excellent lawyers from your are may well respond directly to your question. In the meantime, make use of this website's very useful "Find a Lawyer" feature to start exploring candidates. Pleading guilty (or no contest) or being unrepresented are very poor choices for your future. You are looking at a 6 month license suspension and a record that will dog you for a long time. Defending this should be your #1 priority. Good luck.


All bills aside the most important one is your freedom. So hire a lawyer you can afford and do not defend yourself on any account. I am sure you can find a lawyer in your price range to handle the case. Good luck.


I join in the excellent advice offered by my colleagues. With all respect to your father, he is absolutely wrong in this one instance. Four experienced criminal defense attorneys from across the Commonwealth agree that you should NOT defend yourself and plead no contest. Instead, I recommend that you re-prioritize your financial situation to eliminate unnecessary expenses. Then talk with your father and request his help, if necessary. With or without Dad's help, find and hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you. Many attorneys accept credit cards and offer payment plans. Do not, under any circumstances, try to represent yourself. Good luck.


You should definitely get an attorney. Its a shame you don't qualify for the PD but, without one the DA will run roughshod over you. The charge is minor and you may be able to do ARD which would allow you to have the charges expunged once you have completed the requirements. ARD is usually only available to first offenders but the requirements change from county to county. If yoiu have a clean record, it would definitely be worth exploring so that future employers can't see a conviction on your record.

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