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Maryland Drug Lawyer
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Misdemeanor possession is one of the most common offenses the Maryland court system sees. It involves cases from simple possession of drug paraphernalia, all the way up to possession of what one might consider harder drugs like, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. These cases are prosecuted by prosecutors from the State’s Attorneys Office of the respected county where a person has been charged.
What people can expect as first time possessors of a controlled dangerous substance is usually a diversion program. Almost every county in the state of Maryland will offer defendants an opportunity to take drug education classes in exchange for a full dismissal of the criminal charges that have been lodged against them. In some situations, when a person is perhaps in possession of a larger amount of marijuana or some other drug but not in such a quantity that would constitute felony possession, diversion might not be on the table.
People can expect that cases like this will be prosecuted by the state’s Attorney’s Office, and a defense attorney can be extremely helpful in formulating the appropriate defense. Many don’t realize that their rights — specifically when drugs were found on their person, in their vehicle, or in their home — are significant. The 4th Amendment of the Constitution regulates a number of these rights and a defense attorney that’s qualified in understanding the 4th Amendment as well as other evidentiary issues is going to be extremely helpful in determining what can be suppressed, and what evidence may actually not be admissible in a criminal courtroom.
Maryland is one of the harshest jurisdictions within the United States when it comes to the prosecution and sentencing of drug offenders. In addition to enforcing mandatory minimum prison sentences for many drug-related crimes, especially repeat offenses, Maryland was one of the leading states in arresting marijuana possession offenders — police arrested 23,000 offenders in 2010. But in 2012, the state passed a law lowering the penalty for marijuana possession to no more than one year of imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $1,000.00. Some offenders, however, may not be so fortunate: being convicted for a fourth drug distribution in Maryland charge can result in a 40-year prison sentence. More information on Maryland drug laws is available here, with a specific page devoted to drug distribution laws.
Drug charges are a serious matter and demand the assistance of a professional Maryland drug lawyer. With overcrowding in prisons becoming a serious problem, repeat offenders may find that an expert attorney can avoid mandatory minimum prison sentences by negotiating plea arrangements with prosecutors. You owe it to yourself to fight for your freedom and have the best possible chance of maintaining it with the help of one of our expert Maryland drug lawyers.
Charges regarding drug-related offenses that include violence can seriously affect your future. Please call (301) 761-4842 for a free consultation with an attorney regarding your case.
Maryland Drug Law
A total of 47,633 people were arrested in 2010 for drug charges in Maryland, as defined under criminal code Section 5-602 through Section 5-606 of the Code of Maryland. The highest percentage of arrests was for marijuana charges — about 56 percent. Opium and cocaine accounted for a further 38 percent. Only about 19 percent of all drug arrests throughout Maryland were for sale or manufacture, which are typically treated more seriously during sentencing compared to simple possession.
While possession of any drug in Maryland can be a serious charge, possession of marijuana is one of the least strictly enforced. Under Section 5-601(a)(1), it is illegal to possess marijuana, and the penalty for violating this law depends on the amount in your possession at the time of your arrest:
- Possession of 10 grams or more – $1,000.00 fine, one year imprisonment
- Possession of less than 10 grams – a civil penalty of $100 to $500
A Maryland drug lawyer can always dispute drug possession charges, especially if there is evidence to suggest that the amount listed in your charges is inaccurate. Maryland also punishes offenders of § 5-601(a)(2), which stipulates a $1,000.00 fine and one year of imprisonment for those who obtain marijuana by fraud.
Possession of Other Drugs in Maryland
Potential sentences for drugs other than marijuana in Maryland are typically much harsher. Section 5-601(a)(1) denotes the maximum penalty for all possession charges as being a $25,000.00 fine and/or imprisonment not to exceed four years. However, under § 5-614, the state levies significant charges against those who attempt to bring large amounts of any drug into the state, regardless of whether or not it was intended for distribution. If you are arrested for attempting to bring the following quantities of drugs across state lines, you could be facing up to a $50,000.00 fine and imprisonment for up to 25 years.
- 45 kilograms of marijuana or more
- 28 grams of cocaine or more (or a mixture that contains cocaine)
- 4 grams of opium or morphine or more, or any derivative
- 1,000 dosage units of lysergic acid diethylamide (or a mixture containing)
- 28 grams of phencyclidine or more in liquid or powder
- 112 grams of anything containing phencyclidine or more
- 1,000 dosage units or more of methaqualone
- 28 grams of methamphetamine (or a mixture containing) or more
- 4 grams of fentanyl or a fentanyl analogue or more
The primary indicator of distribution for many police officers is the presence of large amounts of a drug that are unlikely to be for personal use. For example, prosecutors could push for distribution charges (a felony) if you are arrested with more than 28 grams of cocaine, even if you had no intention of selling or distributing the drug. Normally, all possession charges in Maryland are misdemeanors. A felony drug conviction will not only result in immediate and severe penalties, but will likely have a negative impact on the rest of your life — such a conviction can hinder your ability to seek gainful employment, find an apartment, and obtain credit. A professional Maryland drug lawyer can examine all evidence against you and fight the state on your behalf.
Penalties for Drug Paraphernalia Possession
Similar penalties exist in Maryland for the possession of drug paraphernalia or any item used to administer drugs. These items could include syringes, spoons, pipes, and bongs. § 5-619(c)(1) through § 5-620(b) outline the specifics and penalties of drug paraphernalia charges in Maryland. Section 5-619(c)(1) makes it illegal to possess any drug paraphernalia. Violation of this law is a misdemeanor punishable by a $500.00 fine for the first offense. Subsequent offenses increase the penalty to $2,000.00 and two years’ imprisonment. Section 5-619(d)(1) lists the same penalties for distributing paraphernalia. Although still a misdemeanor, distributing drug paraphernalia to a minor is punishable by up to $15,000.00 in fines and eight years’ imprisonment.
It’s important to remember that a qualified Maryland drug lawyer can fight drug paraphernalia charges in the state by making a variety of arguments, including that the paraphernalia was never intended for illegal drugs at all or the materials used for manufacturing drugs were not your own or on your property.
Sale, Manufacture, and Distribution Drug Laws and Penalties
Any evidence suggesting that you intended to sell, manufacture, or distribute controlled substances other than marijuana should be carefully examined by a Maryland drug defense lawyer, as the associated penalties are severe (even for a first offense).Under the Code of Maryland, Section 5-603, Section 605-609, and Section 612, the following is asserted:
- Manufacturing, selling, or distributing any Schedule I or II narcotic: 20 years’ imprisonment, $25,000.00 fine
- Manufacturing, selling, or distributing LSD, PCP, or fentanyl: 20 years’ imprisonment, $20,000.00 fine
- Any other controlled substance: 5 years’ imprisonment, $15,000.00 fine
Sections 5-602 through 5-606 designate subsequent offenses (even if previous convictions were in other states) as carrying more substantial penalties:
- Second offense: 20 years’ imprisonment, $25,000.00 fine
- Third offense: 25 years’ imprisonment, $100,000.00 fine
- Fourth offense: 40 years’ imprisonment, $100,000.00 fine
Possession of drug materials that indicate a likelihood of manufacture (such as a “meth lab” or “grow operation”) is a much more serious crime when in reference to drugs other than marijuana. Possession of materials used to grow marijuana, in sufficient amounts to indicate distribution, is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one years imprisonment and a $1,000.00 fine. With all other materials used to create controlled substances, the charge can be a felony with a potential $25,000.00 fine and four years imprisonment.
Conditional Drug Penalties
Certain conditions can exacerbate penalties related to drug charges. Two of the most common conditions Maryland drug lawyers face are distribution of any drug within 1,000 feet of a school and possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime (excluding marijuana). The penalty for those who allegedly attempt to distribute a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of an elementary or secondary school, per Section 5-627, is no more than 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine not to exceed $20,000.00. Section 5-621(b)(1) makes it a felony to possess a firearm during the commission of a drug trafficking crime. In order to be charged with this crime, the state must prove that the firearm was related to the drug crime allegedly taking place — a burden that an experienced Maryland drug lawyer can help to ensure is not met.
Kush Arora in His Own Words
Below are several links to question-and-answer pages excerpted from an interview with Kush Arora in which he discusses drug offenses in Maryland.
- On Common Drug Offenses in Maryland
- On Alternative Sentencing in Drug Cases
- On Federal vs. State Drug Investigations
- On the Impact of New Drug Laws
Contact a Maryland Drug Lawyer
If you need the services of a Maryland Drug Lawyer call MD Criminal Attorney Kush Arora on (301) 761-4842 for a free confidential consultation.