If you’ve been accused of a drug-related crime in Maryland, your charge can trigger many uncomfortable questions. How will this change your life? What will your family and friends think? Will you lose your job and perhaps be unable to find another job in the future? Will you be able to afford the fines that you might need to pay? Will you spend time behind bars?
The good news is that a drug charge does not equal a drug conviction. Whether you are being accused of a misdemeanor or a felony, with the help of an experienced Maryland drug lawyer, you can fight the charges and maximize your probability of receiving a favorable outcome on the date of your trial. Even when the evidence against you is overwhelming, a qualified Maryland drug lawyer will assist you in working to reduce your penalties to the minimum allowable by the state, reducing the resulting impact on your life and livelihood.
Drug possession and drug paraphernalia possession charges are covered by Maryland state code § 5-601. According to this code, it is a criminal offense to be in possession of controlled substances such as methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and MDMA. State code § 5-601(c)(1) classifies these types of drug possession crimes as misdemeanors. The penalties associated with this type of misdemeanor conviction can include an incarceration term of up to four years along with a maximum of $25,000 in fines.
The penalties associated with marijuana possession specifically are considerably more lenient though still serious, as per state code § 5-601(c)(2). If you’re found possessing a small amount of marijuana for personal use with no apparent intent to distribute, you could face a maximum of one year in jail along with a fine not exceeding $1,000. Unfortunately, state code § 5-601(c)(3)(ii) makes it a crime to be in possession of a small amount of marijuana even when you can prove medical necessity, which involves a fine of no more than $100.
The fines for repeat drug offenders, including those only convicted of misdemeanor penalties, can be more severe. Even first-time offenders can face penalties beyond incarceration and fines, including probation, limiting driving restrictions, community service and mandatory rehabilitation programs. With the help of an experienced Maryland drug lawyer, you can fight all of these charges, minimize the penalties associated with a conviction, or even have your case thrown out entirely on the basis of illegitimate police work, such as entering your residency without a warrant or probable cause.
Maryland state code § 5-602 makes it a criminal offense to manufacture, distribute, or possess with an intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance, such as cocaine, crystal meth, heroin or marijuana. Further, state code § 5-603 makes it illegal to possess a piece of equipment designed to produce or otherwise manufacture a controlled dangerous substance. While these charges are more serious than simple possession charges and typically result in a felony as opposed to a misdemeanor, a qualified Maryland drug lawyer with a strong track record can examine the details of your case and argue against the notion that you intended to distribute the substance(s), as opposed to keeping them for your own personal use.
Individuals convicted of violating codes § 5-602 or § 5-603 are guilty of a felony according to Maryland law and can be imprisoned for up to 5 years and forced to pay a fine of up to $15,000. This is covered by state code § 5-607, which also states that repeat offenders will face a prison sentence of no less than two years with zero chance of parole.
State code § 5-608 pertains to penalties for narcotic drug distribution in particular, which results in a felony along with a prison term of up to 20 years along with a fine of up to $25,000. Repeat offenders found guilty of this type of crime face no less than 10 years of prison along with a fine of up to $100,000, according to state code § 5-608(b)(1). Additional codes under section § 5-608 deal with third-time offenders (no less than 25 years in prison) and fourth-time offenders (no less than 40 years in prison).
Needless to say, the penalties associated with drug manufacture and distribution offenders in Maryland are extremely severe, particularly for repeat offenders. With the help of a knowledgable, experienced Maryland drug defense lawyer who will look into every single detail of your case in building a strong legal defense, you can reduce these penalties in case of a conviction or even escape conviction entirely depending on the specifics of your charges and the circumstances of the alleged offense.
We also offer defenses against drug crimes in Virginia, so click the link for more information on our criminal law offices there.