Criminal Use of Communication Facility

Criminal Use of Communication Facility (commonly called “a phone charge”) is a felony of the third degree if you are convicted or plead guilty to this crime. This charge is frequently charged in addition to drug offenses. This is especially so when there is an allegation of a buy-bust or buy-walk. Prosecutors love this charge because they can “stack it” (add it’s penalties) to any penalties for the drug offense or put you on abnormally long periods of probation in addition to whatever jail time they want to give you on the drug charge. When folks ask: “Who is the best criminal use of a communication facility attorney near me?” The answer is always The McShane Firm. When you need the best drug defense lawyer, contact us. We fight.


The Law:

You can read the exact statute here: 18 PS § 7512.  Criminal use of communication facility.

Maximum Penalties:

If you plead guilty to this or are found guilty, it is a Felony of the Third Degree. All felonies of the the third degree have a maximum penalty of jail not more than seven years and a maximum fine of $15,000.00.

But with a felony conviction there is just so much more to worry about. In truth, jail is temporary. The conviction and its consequences are permanent. You must consider Felony Conviction Consequences in Pennsylvania.

Again, this is if the worst thing happens. We make sure the worst doesn’t happen. Let’s see how we can fight and beat the government, ok?


What the government must prove:

Beyond a reasonable doubt

First it’s about a mindset. Even experienced criminal defense attorneys adopt the wrong mindset. When you are charged with any crime, it is just a naked allegation. While it is true that the government does not have to prove the complete and total impossibility of guilt, a reasonable doubt is a doubt based upon reason and common sense—the kind of doubt that would make a reasonable person hesitate to act.

It can’t be a measure of what is likely, most likely or even really really likely. It is more. Much more.

We make this burden on the government because it is so incredibly easy to accuse someone. Without using a jury system and being very objective and detached, we have mob rule. Mobs are subject to passion and being rash. We would rather get it very right than risk getting in very wrong.

We cannot place an exact number or percentage on how firm or certain we must be. But to put it in perspective, it takes more evidence and proof to convict someone than the amount of proof it takes to remove a child from a home and terminate all parental rights. That’s a lot.

The elements of the crime

The government must prove the accusations beyond a reasonable doubt each and every one of the following (otherwise, the government fails and you remain as you started— innocent):

  1. the accused
  2. used a communication facility to
  3. commit, cause or facilitate
  4. the commission or the attempt thereof of
  5. any crime which constitutes a felony under this title or under the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L.233, No.64), known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act.

Every instance where the communication facility is utilized constitutes a separate offense under this law.

Difficulty with proof

Due to a series of rulings issued by our appeals court, with a skilled and knowledgable criminal defense attorney (like us), the government may not be able to authenticate or prove sufficiently that it was you who sent the messages. They may be able possibly to prove that a cell phone sent the messages, but whether or nor that it was actually you is a whole other thing. Without being able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was you who sent the texts or messages, then you cannot be convicted. This is a technical area that requires very experienced counsel (like us) to use.