Penalties for Drug Possession in Ocean City
How serious a drug possession charge depends on a number of different factors. First and foremost, the court considers the nature of the substance that is being investigated. For instance, one of the least serious possibilities would be civil possession of marijuana. At the other end of the spectrum are the more addictive opiate drugs like heroin or prescription pills that mimic heroin.
The second main factor that can impact the seriousness of a drug possession charge is how much of the drug is in question. The larger the quantity in question, the more severe the charge and resulting penalties.
If you find yourself facing drug possession penalties in Ocean City, contact an attorney as soon as possible. A knowledgeable lawyer with extensive local experience will be an invaluable asset when it comes to helping you know your rights, understand the potential penalties you face, and build the strongest defense possible to refute or reduce them.
Types of Charges
There is a difference between simple possession and possession with intent to distribute. If someone is charged with simple possession of cocaine, for example, it means the allegation is that they were found with a certain amount of cocaine. If it is determined that the amount in question is small enough that the substance was most likely for their personal use, then that would be considered a misdemeanor, and the maximum penalty would be four years.
At the other end of the spectrum is someone who possesses so much cocaine that the prosecution concludes that the individual is intending to distribute it. A distribution charge could also be based on the police finding anything that suggests that the person is distributing it. Such indicators could include:
- Amount of cash on their person
- Burner phones or messages indicating drug sales
Possession with intent to distribute is a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years. For a misdemeanor drug possession charge, the maximum penalty in Maryland has a maximum of four years of incarceration.
When deciding on the exact charge and sentence, another factor that the court may take into consideration would be the prior record of the person accused. In Maryland, there are subsequent offender penalties for controlled dangerous substances. If the defendant has a prior conviction the penalties could be doubled.
When it comes to felonies, the results of an increase in penalties due to the subsequent offender filing can be devastating. A defendant could potentially be facing up to decades in prison with no possibility of parole.
Alternative Sentencing Programs
A leading alternative sentencing program in Pennsylvania is drug court. In order to qualify for a drug court program, the individual must be clinically eligible, meaning there is proof that they are addicted to a substance, as well as legally eligible. Legal eligibility depends on a defendant’s prior record.
While it may seem preferable to incarceration, drug court is a very challenging program, and should never be taken lightly. While it is a valid and potentially beneficial alternative, it is important to be aware of the full accountability involved in its selection.
Participating in drug court means having to appear in court frequently for drug review hearings. If a defendant fails to appear in court or fails a drug test, additional consequences will be incorporated into the original sentence. An attorney can help the defendant determine the best course of action available for their individual needs.
Long Term Consequences
There are a number of collateral consequences as well, particularly on an individual’s employment prospects.
If a person’s employer requires a particular certificate or state-issued license for their profession, convictions for drug offenses could cause that license or certification to be withdrawn.
Another potential scenario is that, if multiple people are applying for a job, prospective employers may start running background checks and seeing what is in the prior records of their applicants. If a person has a conviction for drug offenses, then they may not be considered as strong of a candidate for that job.
How An Attorney Can Help
It is important to keep in mind that every county within the state of Maryland has different judges and different prosecutors, and they can view crimes very differently.
Working with an attorney who has extensive local experience will better enable you to know your audience in fighting the charges levied against you and mitigate the penalties of an Ocean City drug possession conviction. A qualified attorney can guide and advise you throughout the process, which can be confusing and sometimes overwhelming.