The opioid epidemic ravaging the nation is hitting Pennsylvania particularly hard. The scope of the damage was made apparent in a recent speech by Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan, who warned that the worst has yet to come. He made these ominous predictions on May 17, 2018, while making the keynote speech at the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce’s 4th Annual Inspirational Breakfast.

Attorney Hogan’s speech cited some worrisome statistics regarding the opioid crisis:

  • Drug overdoses are now the number one cause of death for Americans under age 50
  • 91 people overdose on prescription opiates per day in the United States
  • Pennsylvania has the fourth highest opioid overdose rate in the nation behind Ohio, West Virginia, and Florida.
  • In 2016, 97 people in Chester County died from drug overdoses
  • In 2017, the number of Chester County overdoses rose to 144

If the opioid crisis is taking such a heavy toll in Pennsylvania, it’s because Philadelphia is the primary distribution point for some of the purest heroin in the country.

Pennsylvania Criminal Opioid Charges in Chester County

Heroin and other powerful opioids are typically classified as Schedule I drugs in Pennsylvania and if convicted of an opioid-related drug crime, you could find yourself facing the Commonwealth’s strict mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. Even if you are found with only a small amount or it is your first offense, you could still be looking at serious consequences, including jail time, thousands of dollars in fines, the life-long trappings of a criminal conviction on your record, and the prospect of going through powerful withdrawal symptoms while in custody. It is also important to keep in mind that convictions relating to opioid trafficking, distribution, manufacturing, and possession with the intent to distribute will heighten your potential penalties considerably.

If you are facing criminal opioid charges in Chester County or anywhere in the Delaware Valley, things can appear bleak. However, you still have options and with help from a skilled and highly experienced criminal defense attorney, you can determine how to effectively deal with your situation and achieve the best possible outcome. As with any criminal charge, you should not talk to the police or prosecutors without a criminal defense lawyer by your side.

Contact Fienman Defense today at (215) 839-9529 or online to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

Chester County District Attorney is Committed to War on Drugs

Even less inspiring than the chilling description of the opioid crisis was Hogan’s firm dedication to the war on drugs. “You have to fight that battle, in order to keep your country safe,” Hogan said. “You are a gardener. You are pulling the weeds to make sure that the weeds don’t take over the rest of your garden. You need to fight it every day, or it will take over.” Hogan seems to concede that a final victory in the war on drugs will never occur. Instead, he paints a picture of a heroic–but ultimately futile–fight against drug traffickers that is necessary to keep the community safe.

But that very fight seems to be ripping communities apart, making them more vulnerable to drugs and their ill effects, from addiction to life-altering criminal convictions. Most criminal justice and policy experts are actually now in agreement that the war on drugs has failed to achieve its goals at the cost of billions of wasted dollars, countless deaths, and a bloated inmate population. Hogan should recognize the damage that the war on drugs has left in its wake, and consider the possibility of approaching the opioid crisis in Chester County as a public health issue.

The Opioid Crisis Is Worsening

In the last two decades, around 500,000 Americans have died from drug overdoses. Attorney Hogan warned that in the next few years, the “opioid crisis will expand to a half million more deaths.” While opioid addiction has been present in American society for centuries, the recent crisis is unique. The victims are not primarily poor or members of minority communities, as is traditionally the case. “This problem is mainly happening in the white, middle-to-upper-middle class communities,” Hogan said.

The spread of opioid abuse across social strata can be attributed to prescription drugs. American doctors erroneously believed that synthetic opioids such as Oxycontin were non-addictive, and prescribed them widely. The consumption rates of these drugs exploded–as did their production volume. 11.5 tons of oxycodone were produced in 1998. By 2013, the production increased to 138 tons, with Americans consuming 90 percent of the worldwide supply.

Synthetic opiates are expensive when purchased on the street and Oxycontin prices can be upwards of 30 dollars per pill. People exposed to synthetic opiates often become addicted, yet are unable to maintain such an expensive habit. Eventually, they seek out cheaper alternatives such as heroin and fentanyl, which cost as little as five dollars for a fix. Although the government always warned about the dangers of marijuana, it is legally prescribed prescription painkillers that have proved to be the true “gateway drug”.

Contact a Fienman Defense Today

As long as prosecutors pursue the war on drugs, innocent people will end up behind bars. If you get caught with a large quantity of opiates, the prosecutor may charge you with trafficking–even if the drugs were for your own consumption. If you or a family member has been charged with a drug crime, an attorney at Fienman Defense can help.

Call Fienman Defense today at (215) 839-9529 for a free and confidential consultation regarding your case.

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