What Does Prosecution in Ocean City Need to Prove For a Drug Conviction?
If the person is charged with misdemeanor possession of drugs, the State has to prove that the person actually possessed it. Possession has a very interesting definition under the law.
It’s different from what one might logically think possession means, because to possess something means to exercise some sort of dominion and control over it.
The clearest example of possession is something I have in my pocket. Another example is an item located in my purse that is across my shoulder. Both of those scenarios are clear examples of possession.
Also, however, is an item that is found in my car, perhaps in the glove compartment or the center console? Even if I am not in my car at the time the item is located, I can be charged and possibly convicted for drugs found in my car. This is because, under the definition of the law, my car is a place where I exercise dominion or control.
Proving That A Substance is Illegal
The state also has to prove that the substance possessed was in fact an illegal drug. That is done by the police officer submitting the substance that was found to the Maryland State Police to their crime lab.
There is a crime lab located in Berlin, Maryland which is located right outside of Ocean City. There are chemists employed by the state and their only job is to test these substances and determines what these substances are. The chemist then prepares a report and a copy of that report is sent to the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor can use that report and submit it as evidence to prove what the substance was.
If they sent that report with enough notice, follow the rules of procedure, and they send that report in advance of the trial date, then the state does not have to actually call the chemist as a witness, they would simply introduce the report.
Proving Intent in Ocean City
Possession with intent to distribute requires the additional element of proving the intent of the person who possessed the drugs.
Proving intent requires looking at surrounding circumstances in order to infer the person’s intent. So intent is proven by other surrounding facts. For example, the amount could be indicative of possessing with the intent to distribute it. If one person possesses a large amount of drugs, a judge may infer that he possesses much more than what would be considered for personal use. Multiple bags of cocaine or a large amount of cocaine could be indicative of possessing it with the intent of distributing it. It is more than one person would commonly use, be it for their personal use. The amount of the substance is relevant in determining that the person possesses it with the intent to distribute it. How the substance is packaged can be relevant, because if it is many baggies or possession of multiple packages may be indicative of an intent to distribute.
If the person had other packaging supplies, either on them or in the place where they were found with the drugs, for example baggies, or scales for measuring, those items could suggest that the person was going to take a substance and break it down into smaller portions and sell that amount.
The intent to distribute could also be proven by looking at the individual’s cell phone. People who are going to distribute will oftentimes use their phone in order to communicate with a buyer. There may be text messages on the person’s cell phone which shows that they are being contacted because the buyer wants to purchase the drugs from the seller.
A large amount of cash could be indicative that the person is selling a drug that. Also having money that is located in different places can be indicative of selling and therefore the drugs they possess are possessed with the intent to distribute.
Drug Distribution Charges
In order to prove the charge of drug distribution, the State has to prove that the defendant possessed a drug and then provided it to another person. The most common scenario is an officer observing a hand to hand drug transaction and then arrests both the buyer and the seller. Usually that requires them to make contact with and stop and search the buyer. And they find drugs on the buyer but they also arrest the person that they suspect of being the seller. The seller will sometimes have other drugs in their possession and money.
Sometimes, the police will set up a controlled buy where it’s actually an undercover law enforcement officer who is acting as the buyer. These undercover officers make contact with a suspected seller and buy the drugs using money provided by the task force. The officer will have recorded the serial number of the money. After the transaction the seller is arrested and is searched the seller will have the recorded serial number currency as well as other drugs items ready for distribution.