Maryland Drug Charge Attorney
Offices in Laurel, Silver Spring, Rockville & Ellicott City
Avoid Serious Penalties
Whether you are charged with possession, intent to distribute, manufacturing, or the sale of controlled dangerous substances (CDS) in Maryland, you can face stiff penalties even with no prior convictions. Maryland law contains a comprehensive statute designed to punish those who commit narcotic offenses. The penalties imposed for commission of a Maryland drug crime vary depending on the specific nature of the alleged conduct, prior criminal history, quantity of the controlled substance, intent of the accused, and the surrounding circumstances. If you are facing state charges with prior convictions or federal charges, you might face exposure to a mandatory minimum term of incarceration. Given the severity of these punishments, it is imperative that you have experienced and dedicated attorneys on your side.
Winning Your Case
We are proud to be reputed for our aggressive and relentless approach when it comes to helping our clients who have been charged with drug crimes. The penalties are often unfair and can prevent a person from every having a chance to better his or her life. We will fight to protect your rights, freedom, and reputation. We aggressively represent individuals accused of possession, distribution, possession with intent, sales, and manufacturing of the full range of controlled substances, including but not limited to the following:
- MDMA (ecstasy)
- Prescription Medications
- Methamphetamine (Crystal Meth)
Understanding the Maryland Drug Crime of Possession
Generally speaking, simple possession of a controlled substance is a misdemeanor whereas possession to distribute narcotics is a felony punishable by lengthy periods of incarceration and hefty fines. Some drug-related convictions entail a mandatory minimum period of incarceration without the possibility of parole or early release.
Schedule I – V Drugs
Maryland, like most other states and the federal government, classifies drugs into different categories referred to as “schedules.” Under this classification scheme, Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous and addictive with minimal medical benefits while Schedule V drugs typically offer more significant medical uses and less severe risks. These classifications also are used under Maryland criminal law to determine the applicable penalty for criminal offenses involving controlled substances. Penalties imposed for offenses involving Schedule I and Schedule II drugs will generally be more severe than those imposed for Schedule III-IV drugs. Examples of each type of CDS are provided below:
- Schedule I: Heroin, Ecstasy, LSD
- Schedule II: Cocaine, Opium, Vicodin, Oxycodone, Methamphetamine, Morphine
- Schedule III: Anabolic Steroids, Ketamine
- Schedule IV: Ambien, Xanax, Valium
- Schedule V: Cough Suppressants with Codeine
Simple Possession [Maryland Criminal Code §5-601]
Possession of narcotics for personal use without a lawful prescription and possession of drug paraphernalia (e.g. syringe, etc.) for use of a CDS (other than marijuana) carries exposure of up to four years incarceration and a $25,000 fine or both. This penalty also applies to attempts to obtain a controlled substance or actually obtaining a CDS through prescription fraud or related conduct.
However, marijuana is treated differently than other illicit drugs. Possession of fewer than 10 grams of marijuana constitutes a civil offense. For a first offense involving this quantity of marijuana, the penalty entails a fine of up to $100. A second offense of possession of 10 grams of marijuana or less carries a civil fine of up to $250. A third offense involves a fine of up to $500. A fourth or subsequent offense or possession of more than 10 grams of marijuana is a crime punishable by a one-year jail sentence, a fine not to exceed $1,000, or both. Users of medical marijuana also need to be aware that possession of cannabis remains a criminal offense under federal law.
Possession with Intent, Manufacturing, Distribution [Maryland Criminal Code Section 5-602]
Possession with the intent to distribute, manufacturing drugs, and drug distribution constitute felony offenses. At a minimum, a conviction of any of these offenses is a felony punishable by up to 5 years incarceration and a fine not to exceed $15,000 or both. Two years of the sentence must be served before parole is granted if the person previously has been convicted of the same crime. However, these penalties do not apply to Schedule I or Schedule II drugs.
A conviction of drug distribution, manufacturing, or intent to distribute that involves Schedule I or II drugs may be punished by incarceration of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $25,000 or both. If the accused has a prior conviction of the offense, then he or she will face a mandatory minimum period of incarceration of ten years. The minimum penalty would be 25 years if the person had two prior convictions for possession with intent to distribute. Despite these seemingly harsh sentences, Maryland law allows for the sentencing judge to depart from the mandatory minimum sentences if the judge finds that the sentence would do substantial injustice to the defendant, and the protection of society does not require the imposition of such a harsh sentence.
The sentencing judge may not depart from mandatory minimum sentences in some circumstances. Possession, manufacturing, or dispensing of certain quantities of specified drugs such as cocaine, crack, heroin, and methamphetamines carries a five-year mandatory minimum sentence and a $100,000 fine or both. There is no opportunity for parole or early release from this sentence.
Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation
There are many potential defenses to drug crimes. Whether we are seeking suppression of the drugs, paraphernalia, or money; disputing your knowledge of the presence of the drugs; or challenging the admissibility of your confession, we carefully review the facts and evidence to build a compelling defense. Call us today at (301) 362-3300, or email us to set up a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. We are conveniently located in Laurel, Silver Spring, Rockville, and Ellicott City MD.