Drug Possession

A new synthetic drug that has resulted in a series of events involving bizarre behavior has Philadelphia health professionals concerned, according to a report published by CBS Philly. The drug, known on the street as “Flakka” or “Gravel,” has been described as a dangerous synthetic cathinone drug called alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PDP) by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The drug, similar to other drugs commonly referred to as “bath salts,” is usually in a crystal or powder form and can be snorted, eaten, vaporized, or injected and has effects on users that are similar to amphetamines or cocaine. The drug is rising quickly in popularity because of its powerful high and extremely low price of about $4 to $5 per dose.

People who have been arrested while using Flakka have engaged in seemingly insane conduct, including:

  • Kicking in the door to a police station because he believed he was being pursued by an imaginary fleet of cars
  • Trying to break through a police window before impaling himself on a fence
  • Trying to have sex with a tree
  • Running naked through the street
  • Claiming to be the mythical god Thor
  • Fighting off pursuing officers with almost superhuman strength

Because the new drug can incite dangerous and seemingly uncontrollable behavior, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) rushed to make the drug illegal last year as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, at least on a temporary basis while more research is conducted. Though Pennsylvania law has not specifically outlawed this specific form of the drug, it may very soon and also the actions of individuals who use Flakka may be unlawful in themselves.

Drug crimes can result in significant criminal penalties

Possession, sales, or any other offense related to unlawful controlled substances carry very serious penalties under Pennsylvania drug laws. Even a convictions for possessing a small amount of drugs can result in up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $5,000. The court may also order you to complete a supervised probation period, attend mandatory drug evaluations and treatment, among other possible penalties. The consequences only increase if you have prior drug convictions on your criminal record, as a subsequent possession conviction can result in up to three years behind bars and/or a fine up to $25,000. As you can see, it is highly important to avoid even a first drug-related conviction whenever possible as the sentence for any later offenses can escalate substantially.

The charges become even more serious if a prosecutor alleges that you possessed the drugs with the intent to deliver them to someone else or as part of a trafficking operation. A prosecutor may charge you with these very serious felony offenses for under many circumstances, including:

  • You possessed more drugs that normal for personal use
  • Police found packaging materials, such as baggies or vials
  • Police found scales or other measuring devices
  • You had a large amount of cash on you
  • Police claim they observed you delivering or distributing the drugs to another person

Convictions of these felony offenses involving narcotics can mean a sentence up to 15 years in state prison, up to a $250,000 fine, or both. The exact sentence you may face largely depends on the type and amount of drugs you allegedly possessed.

In addition to court-imposed sentences, you will have a felony conviction on your permanent criminal record. Following a prison sentence, this will have a significant impact on your life in many ways. Felony convictions can have implications in divorce or child custody cases, can substantially limit your job opportunities, and can affect your rights in many other ways. For these reasons, you always want to discuss your case with an experienced drug crime defense attorney who can help you avoid having a felony conviction on your record.

Contact a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney to schedule a free consultation

People who are facing allegations of the possession, sale, or manufacture of illegal drugs should retain legal representation as soon as possible. Philadelphia attorney Brian Zeiger is a skilled Philadelphia criminal defense attorney that is dedicated to representing the legal rights of individuals accused of criminal misconduct. He has been recognized by Avvo as a “Top Criminal Defense Attorney” and as a “Super Lawyer” in Philadelphia Magazine’s “Rising Stars” issue. To schedule a free consultation with Mr. Zeiger, please call our office today at 215-546-0340.


  1. http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2015/05/07/new-designer-drug-hits-the-streets/
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/emerging-trends-alerts
  3. https://www.pacode.com/secure/data/028/chapter25/s25.72.html

Brian J. Zeiger, Esquire, is an experienced and successful criminal defense and civil rights attorney. He is a seasoned trial lawyer with significant experience before juries and judges. Brian understands civil rights cases, including Taser, Wrongful Death, Excessive Force, Police Brutality, Police Misconduct, Malicious Prosecution, Monell Claims, Sexual Assault, Prisoner’s Rights, Time Credit, Medical Malpractice, and Medical Indifference.