Annapolis Drug Possession Lawyer
Drug possession is a serious charge in Annapolis, particularly when the substance is not marijuana. Possession of small amounts of marijuana are punished differently than other controlled substances. When the substances are cocaine, heroin, prescription medication, and other Schedule I, Schedule II, and Schedule III substances, they are treated much more seriously by the court system.
It is important to remember that those drugs are punishable by a significant amount of jail time and they have the tendency to raise questions about community safety, addiction, and factors that might give your case special attention during adjudication. If you are facing possession charges, contact an Annapolis drug possession lawyer today.
Factors Impacting Severity
Annapolis drug possession cases are even more serious when people are in possession of large amounts of the substance or when the charge is possession with intent to distribute. Possession as a minor or at a particularly young age, as well as possession with an existing criminal record can also make drug possession cases more serious.
These are often seen as signs that the court needs to treat simple possession as a more serious recreational use of drugs and may have warranted a drug education class along with more significant and strict penalties.
Treatment by Law Enforcement
Drug possession is absolutely a priority for law enforcement in Annapolis for two reasons: community safety and the possibility of other criminal activity. Law enforcement believes that it is best to detect people that are in possession of drugs early so that they can get them treatment or access to resources to resolve issues that they might have with drugs.
Further, drug possession cases are usually gateways to other criminal activity that the police might have an interest in investigating, such as money laundering, violent crime, or unlawful possession of firearms. What started as a simple drug investigation can lead to cases of other more serious criminal activity, warranting the attention of an Annapolis drug possession lawyer.
Drugs of Particular Importance
While all drugs are important to law enforcement and law officer goals, specific attention is drawn to drugs that were not necessarily common or widely available in Maryland previously. For example, different kinds of THC oils are becoming more and more prevalent on our streets, as is methamphetamine.
Law enforcement officers are taking particular interest in these drugs because they want to know who and where they are coming from. Often, those investigations will be given special focus.
Drug possession cases are often nuanced with other legal issues. One of the most important constitutional issues that come up in drug possession cases is the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unlawful searches and seizures by law enforcement. Usually, drugs are found on a person, in their vehicle, or in their home, and their presence is discovered during a search of the individual or their property.
A drug possesion attorney in Annapolis that is knowledgeable about this area of law will properly advise their client on how to argue to potentially have these drugs suppressed from evidence. This can only be done if the attorney has a mastery of the Fourth Amendment and understands all of the most up-to-date case law on these particular issues.
The Supreme Court of the United States and the Court of Appeals and Special Appeals in Maryland are constantly issuing new decisions about nuances of the Fourth Amendment and how it might apply to unlawful searches and seizures of a person, their vehicle, or their home. It is extremely important to be familiar with those decisions in any argument on suppressing evidence in court.
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which provides a right against self-incrimination, will come up during possession cases. The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, particularly any statements that were taken by the defendant while she or he was in police custody or placed under arrest, is also a common issue that comes up in possession cases. Additionally, the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial will come up, which requires the prosecution to bring a case to court and bring it to its resolution within a reasonable amount of time so as not to violate a person’s constitutional right.
Diversion or Alternative Sentencing Programs
Usually, if someone is charged with a small amount drugs for the first time, they will have access to a diversion program. A diversion program in Annapolis is treated a little bit differently than it is in other counties in Maryland.
In Montgomery County or Prince George’s County, in exchange for dismissal, people may be required to attend a short drug education class when they are charged with possession as a first-time offender. In Annapolis, the length of an individual’s education class and the other requirements to clear their record of the incident are more intensive and may be spread over a much lengthier period of time.
Benefit of An Attorney
The first step in building a defense in an Annapolis drug possession case is finding out whether the actual seizure of a person under the Fourth Amendment was conducted lawfully. If it was not, there will be a motion to suppress that is filed and litigated in court to try and suppress the drugs because they were not lawfully obtained by law enforcement.
Second, a drug possession attorney in Annapolis will question actual versus constructive possession, which is an important argument to evaluate in the case. If there was more than one person in a home or in a car at the time that it was searched, the police have to determine who the drugs actually belonged to.
Any subsequent arguments will depend on the facts of the case, how the evidence is gathered, and external factors, such as this charge’s impact on community, which may determine how the court will respond.