Drug Charges in Ocean City
Drug charges are taken seriously in Ocean City and as a result, it is important you contact an Ocean City drug lawyer as soon as you have been charged. Law enforcement in Ocean City is aggressive about charging and arresting people for drug offenses such as possession and distribution.
Range of Charges
The range of charges has a lot of do with what criminal acts the police officers are alleging were conducted by the defendant. At the bottom end of the spectrum, there are misdemeanor drug charges in Ocean City and even below that, there is a civil offense for the possession of marijuana less than 10 grams. If the act was that the person possessed less than 10 grams of marijuana then it is a civil offense.
If the person possessed a different kind of substance like cocaine or prescription pills or heroin that is a more serious offense, that would be a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of four years’ incarceration and/or a fine. That range continues to get more serious.
The next set of offenses could include possessing a drug with the intent to distribute it. There are many factors that could lead to the person being charged with possession with intent to distribute, which is considered a felony and carries a maximum penalty of 20 years and/or a fine. Another felony is the distribution of a drug. It depends on what drug is alleged to have been distributed as to what the penalty would be, so if it were distribution of marijuana, the penalty for that could be five years and/or a fine, but if the allegation is that the person distributed cocaine or prescription pills then there could be a maximum penalty of 20 years and/or a fine. There is a variety of different Ocean City drug charges with which someone can be charged.
Following an Offense
What happens after an arrest will depend on the specific charge and the specific drugs, but at the bottom end of the spectrum, a person could expect that they would be issued a criminal summons by the officer. In that scenario, they are not taken into custody and they would have to attend an initial appearance with a commissioner and would receive a trial date. At the other end of the spectrum, a person is charged and the decision is made to arrest and that happens in a scenario where the person was possessing a drug that is considered a felony and it involved drugs that increase the likelihood of the person who would be arrested.
If they are arrested, what they can expect is that they would be taken to the public safety building in Ocean City and would appear before a commissioner and the commissioner would determine if the person should be released on their own recognizance or if they should have to post a bond. If they are able to post a bond that is great, and if they are unable to, then they would be seen by a judge on the next available court date and the judge could then address the issue of that bond and the judge would be able to either lower the bond, increase the bond, or leave it the same, but it would depend.
Often, the charges are brought by a police officer. The police officer has the option of making an arrest, preparing a statement of charges and presenting that paperwork and the defendant to a District Court commissioner. The District Court commissioner has two responsibilities. One is to determine if there actually is probable cause to issue those charges and it’s also the job of the commissioner to determine what should be done with the defendant. The commissioner has a whole range of possibilities, from allowing somebody to be released on their own recognizance all the way up to holding them without bond. It would be unusual for a drug case to involve no-bond scenario. It could be that a person charged with drug offenses could be required to post a bond before they would be released.
It is also important to understand that there are national criminal indexes and if a person has been arrested, charged, convicted, etc., a person is arrested and their case is put in a nationwide system, and then their name could actually be on a record showing that they have a pending case.
Someone can be arrested and charged even if they do have a prescription if they are unable to provide that prescription to the police officer. If they are charged, they then have to make contact with their doctor, and provide documentation from the pharmacy that proves that they legally possessed the pills. It becomes a much more complicated scenario for a person, that could be avoided if they traveled with their prescription drugs in the designated prescription pill bottle.