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Gearty Law Offices is a general practice law firm that largely focuses on criminal law, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, and unemployment appeals.  The Lancaster, York, Lebanon, and Central PA criminal defense attorneys at Gearty Law Offices have handled a wide range of criminal matters ranging for charges as minor as a summary disorderly conduct to very serious felony cases.

Although Gearty Law handles most types of criminal defense cases, our Lancaster, York and Central PA Drug Crimes Defense Attorney (Attorney Justin C. Gearty Jr.) places a special emphasis on drug crimes.  Prior to becoming an attorney, Attorney Gearty spent over seven years working in the field of addictions treatment.  In that field, Attorney Gearty spent several years counseling clients addicted to various substances and through those years, Mr. Gearty attended numerous trainings on various issues relating to drugs and addiction.  In addition to his experience working in addictions treatment, Attorney Gearty also possesses a bachelor’s degree in psychology, which also gave him education on various drug related issues.

When someone is charged with a drug crime, not only is it important to have an experienced attorney and one who has trial experience, it is also important to have an attorney that has a very thorough understanding of addiction and drugs.  For example, when someone is charged with possession with intent to distribute a substance, the State in most cases will have an “expert” take the stand and that “expert” will testify that based off of the circumstances in that case, he believes that the person possessed the substance with the intent to distribute it.  This means that the person didn’t actually sell any drug, but the state believes that he intended to sell the drugs based on the facts of the case.

Possession with intent to distribute is a serious felony and if convicted, can result in many years in state prison.  Also, if the weight of the drugs is above a certain limit, then a mandatory minimum sentence would apply upon conviction which means that the judge would have no discretion to sentence the person to any sentence less than the mandatory minimum.  Because of the seriousness of the consequences, these cases must be aggressively litigated by an attorney that isn’t afraid to go to trial and an attorney with a substantial knowledge of drugs and addiction, such as Attorney Gearty.

In many possession with intent to distribute cases, the State’s expert will rely on the following: the amount of the drugs possessed, amount of money that the person has on them, whether there was drug dealing paraphernalia present, and whether the person has any history of addiction.  First, an experienced and knowledgeable drug crimes attorney will attack the credentials of the expert.  To be able to do this, the attorney should have as much knowledge about drugs and addiction as the expert does.  If the expert’s credentials can be sufficiently challenged, it is possible for the court to rule that the person is not an expert and thus cannot provide opinion testimony.  Even if the court still finds that he is an expert, if the drug crimes attorney can attack the expert’s training, experience, and/or knowledge in general, then the jury will potentially see that the expert’s opinion isn’t reliable.  Many times these cases will simply rest on the amount of the drugs possessed.  That factor, however, can be challenged.  Each person is different and every person addicted to drugs responds to those drugs differently.  Every addicted person develops a tolerance over time, however, the extent of that tolerance varies by person.  Furthermore, the purity of the drugs would come into play.  The less potent the drugs are, the more of that drug the addict would possess.  The difference in sentencing for simple possession versus possession with intent to distribute is huge.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug crime in PA, contact our PA Drug Crimes Attorney (Attorney Justin C. Gearty Jr.) today for a free consultation.  717-490-6325 or by email at:

Lebanon man, woman escape heroin-dealing conviction
Lebanon Daily News

Updated: 02/05/2013 08:49:09 PM EST

No one disputed that 24-year-old Gilberto Escobar was wearing a coat containing 26 packets of heroin when he literally ran out of his shoes while trying to elude state parole officers last April 5.
Escobar was also carrying synthetic marijuana, an Alprazolam tablet, two cigar blunts, two cell phones and $1,763 in cash.

The criminal case against him changed radically in May when his girlfriend, Justene Sanchez, testified at his preliminary trial that the coat and the heroin and other drugs found in it were hers. She was subsequently charged. That left a Lebanon County jury to sort out the facts, and – after 3½ hours of deliberations Tuesday – the jury decided the drugs were Escobar’s, convicting him on charges of possession of heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of Alprazolam and possession of synthetic marijuana.
Escobar, of 362 N. 11th St., Lebanon, was found not guilty of the most serious charge, possession of heroin with intent to deliver.
Sanchez, 20, of 132 Brookside Apartments, Lebanon, was found guilty of criminal conspiracy related to possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia. She was acquitted on charges of possession with intent to deliver heroin, possession of heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal conspiracy related to possession with intent to deliver heroin.
Judge Bradford Charles scheduled sentencing for both for March 20.

At the time of his arrest, Escobar was on parole. He had been sentenced to 3 to 10 years in state prison in July 2008 for possession with intent to deliver crack cocaine and other drug charges to which he had pleaded guilty in May 2007.
Escobar did not testify in his trial Wednesday, but Sanchez did – against the advice of her attorney, public defender Elizabeth Judd.
“Why would she do that?” Judd said rhetorically in her closing statement to the jury. “The commonwealth showed you the reasons.”
Those reasons included: Escobar’s family bailed her out of Lebanon County prison after she had been charged; Escobar is the father of her child; and a state parole officer told her what the consequences would be for Escobar if he was convicted. “Ultimately, your decision is, who is the drug dealer here?” Judd said. “The evidence tells you Gilberto Escobar is the drug dealer.”

The jury, though, convicted neither defendant on the drug-dealing charge, despite testimony from Det. Sgt. Richard Radwanski of the Lebanon County Drug Task Force, who cited the quantity of heroin found on Escobar, the “large amount” of currency, two cell phones, Escobar’s failure “to list any legitimate source of income” and “no heroin or opiate addiction” for his conclusion that Escobar was a dealer.
Radwanski added that Sanchez also did not have a job or any known drug dependency.
Yet when Sanchez testified, she asserted that she had been a heroin user, a habit she said she was able to hide from Escobar because the two did not live together.
Radwanski said he did not believe Sanchez could kick a heroin habit “cold turkey,” which she said she did.
Sanchez also said Escobar would not have known about the drugs in the tan coat he took when he left his home on April 5 and was confronted by state parole agents, who chased him down on Lehman Street, tackling and Tasing him twice.

Escobar’s Lancaster attorney, Justin Gearty Jr., disputed Judd’s statement about drug dealing.
“The question isn’t ‘Who is the drug dealer?'” Gearty said. “My client doesn’t have to prove anything here. You can’t possess something if you don’t know it’s there. We heard testimony from Justene Sanchez that the drugs were hers.”
Gearty noted that parole officers did not find any drugs or paraphernalia in Escobar’s home when it was searched.
“Her story matched the facts,” Gearty said of Sanchez’s testimony.

Not so, Assistant District Attorney Nichole Eisenhart said.
“Behind every drug dealer there is a naive woman willing to take the fall,” Eisenhart said.
Eisenhart said Escobar would not have run from parole agents just because he didn’t have a job.
“Flight can be considered evidence of consciousness of guilt,” Eisenhart said.
Eisenhart said Sanchez could not have had a $600 to $900 a month heroin habit.
“Where is she getting money for these drugs?” Eisenhart asked. “What is there to indicate that either of these two are drug addicts? She quit cold turkey? … It just doesn’t add up.
“The only thing that adds up is Gilberto Escobar is a drug dealer.”
State sentencing guidelines call for Escobar to receive a minimum term of between 6 and 15 months in state prison. Sanchez’s convictions carry a minimum term of probation to 1 month in county prison.
Judd said Sanchez has no prior criminal record.

Gearty Law’s criminal defense attorneys have experience handling a wide range of criminal defense cases throughout many different counties in PA. We have handled everything from very serious offenses such as rape and aggravated assault to simple matters such as simple possession, summary retail theft, or disorderly conduct. Regardless of the seriousness of the charge, anytime someone is charged with a crime, there is a potential for serious consequences, ie: loss of job, damaged reputation, excessive fines, and potentially loss of freedom. Since there is so much on the line with every criminal defense case, it is critical that a criminal defense attorney be retained right away and no statements should be given prior to speaking with your attorney. Below is some more information on certain criminal offenses. If you are in need of a criminal defense attorney in Lancaster County, Dauphin County, York County, Berks County, or Cumberland County, call us today for a free phone consultation.


Sex crimes are a particular set of crimes that can carry severe and life long consequences. Often times, the police and prosecutors will file charges just based off of the word of an alleged victim and sometimes will do this even though there is absolutely no scientific or other evidence to support the alleged victims accounts. A single allegation by such a person has the potential to ruin someones life. Convictions for certain sex offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences of years in State prison. In addition to prison time, a conviction or plea to a sex offense will result in Megan’s Law reporting, potentially for the rest of the defendant’s life, depending on the charge. When someone is charged with a sex offense, they should retain a lawyer and law firm that has experience handling sex offense cases. These sort of cases are different from many other criminal matters and take knowledge of both the laws and science involved. Attorney Gearty is an experienced criminal defense attorney that has handled a variety of sex offense charges. In addition to Attorney Gearty’s experiences, the firm utilizes the experience of a registered nurse to assist with evaluating any medical evidence and we utilize the experience and education of other professionals, such as social workers who can help identify whether there are issues with the victim or other witnesses that would be helpful with the case.

Attorney Gearty will review the evidence, will seek speak with our professionals, and will seek out and use other experts to fully evaluate your case. Once your case has been completely and thoroughly evaluated, the various options will be explained to the defendant (ie, plea, trial, pre-trial motions such as suppression motions, etc). Attorney Gearty will always consider all options and will explain each option to the client. Attorney Gearty isn’t afraid to take cases to trial and will do so when the case warrants such.


Drug offenses are often over prosecuted. We have seen times where a defendant was charged with possession with intent to deliver when there was no evidence to support the position that the defendant actually intended to sale the drugs. The police and prosecutors can, and often do, charge people with possession with intent simply based off of the amount of drugs that are found in their possession. For example, if a person is found to possess 15 bags of heroin, he may be charged with the more serious offense of possession with intent to deliver. However, every drug case is different. There are plenty of addicts that may possess that many bags of heroin or more at any given time and that addict may not intend to do anything with those drugs other than use them. If charged with possession of the heroin instead of possession with intent, the addict would be facing a much lower sentence. Attorney Gearty spent many years working in drug and alcohol treatment prior to becoming an attorney and those experiences help Attorney Gearty bring a unique perspective to drug cases. In cases where the defendant agrees that he did possess the substance, Attorney Gearty will help the client try to get into treatment and will attempt to negotiate a plea that includes treatment instead of jail or will argue the same to the court. We believe that too many addicts are being sentenced to jail instead of given the chance at treatment. We believe that using jail instead of treatment is bad for the defendant as well as bad for the community as a whole as a jail sentence does nothing to solve the problem going forward.
In drug cases, there are many times where the police over step their limits when conducting a search. For each drug case, we take a close look at the circumstances around the search to determine whether there is a suppression issue or not.

Certain drug offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences, such as school zone enhancements and certain mandatory minimums when certain weight requirements are met. These mandatory minimum sentences often require state prison time, even when there has been no prior criminal record.

If you or anyone you know has been arrested for a drug offense, call our drug crimes defense attorney today for a free consultation.

Due to the seriousness of facing a criminal charge, it is critical that you hire a criminal defense attorney right after being charged or even once you know you are being investigated. The police have the benefit of using the advice of the attorneys in the district attorneys office from the beginning of the case, so it is important that the defendant have that same level of representation.

Here at Gearty Law, we are prepared to assist each client with their criminal defense case, regardless of the crime. We will represent the defendant at the preliminary hearing, will argue for a reasonable bail, will file a bail modification petition if need be, will explore ARD as an option when appropriate, will file any pre-trial motions, will engage in meaningful plea negotiations, and will take your case to a jury trial if need be. We believe that each case deserves a complete and thorough evaluation before making any decisions that can affect the case and we thoroughly explain those options to each client, so the client can meaningfully participate in their case.

More posts on other areas of criminal law to follow.