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Maryland Drug Penalties
The laws are harsh against drug crimes in Maryland. There are many different penalties someone can face with respect to drug-related offenses, including periods of incarceration up to five years, as well as collateral consequences.
This can include having charges on your record that prevent certain kinds of employment, schools, and professional licenses as well as qualifying for certain kinds of loans.
A person can potentially expect extensive periods of incarceration, lengthy periods of probation as well as the possibility of facing collateral consequences like an inability to qualify for certain kinds of loans, housing, employment or professional licenses.
If you are facing any of these penalties for drug offenses in Maryland, it is important you contact an experienced drug lawyer to begin building a defense to your charges.
First-Time vs. Repeat Offenses
First-time offenders for many kinds of drug-related cases might not be facing jail time and might even have the opportunity to have their record expunged after a period of time. However, if somebody is a second time offender, the court system views this as a person as not having learned their lesson, and often they can face enhanced penalties in Maryland, periods of incarceration, and a criminal history for the rest of their lives.
A first time offender, for example, with a simple possession case might not face any real consequences or penalties for their drug charge in Maryland and might have the opportunity to do a drug education diversion program in exchange for a dismissal of their charges.
A second-time offender might actually have to serve a period of jail time for a simple possession. Similarly, with possession with intent to distribute, a first-time offender might not be sent to jail and might be eligible for a disposition like probation before judgment which would keep them from having a criminal record and make the charge eligible for expungement after a period of time.
Factors Influencing Penalties
Many factors can exacerbate the harshness of a drug penalty in Maryland, including a person’s criminal history, the location of the drug, the quantity of the drug, other paraphernalia like scales, and large amounts of cash.
The crime committed is certainly going to have an impact. If somebody was distributing a drug, for example, that would make it a felony.
Usually, the quantity in and of itself does not affect the charge. However, an officer could make determinations that a quantity that is a very large amount would be possession with an intent to distribute because it would be too much for what is considered personal use, and then it would graduate from a misdemeanor to a felony offense.
There is no quantity in Maryland that would be specific in classifying a crime as a felony versus a misdemeanor, but the main thing officers look for with respect to quantity is an indicator of personal use versus something more significant than personal use.
If the quantity is large enough that nobody would possibly be using it for personal use purposes, that would perhaps be a reason that the circumstances would change with respect to a simple possession versus a felony charge.
First-time offenders who are charged with a simple possession of marijuana, prescription medication, or even cocaine or heroin in small quantities in most circumstances would find themselves being able to participate in a drug diversion program. This would afford them an opportunity to keep their record clear of the event, as long as they participated in a drug education program as well as potentially complete hours of community service. A drug attorney can help to find mitigating options like these programs rather than some of the Maryland drug penalties they previously faced.