Getting arrested for a drug offense in Maryland is serious.
The failed war on drugs has taken a huge toll on individuals and communities across the nation. While some signs of reform have emerged, particularly regarding marijuana possession, drug crimes remain incredibly serious and can cause loss of liberty, fines, and collateral consequences for those convicted. Because drug offenses remain serious in Maryland, its extremely important to speak to a criminal defense lawyer to help protect your liberty and your constitutional rights. Maryland has several types of crimes including misdemeanors and felonies depending on the drug type, drug quantities, and surrounding circumstances of the offense.
Maryland Felony Drug Offenses
Maryland also has mandatory minimums for possessing large quantities of drugs. For fifty or more pounds of marijuana, there is a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence. The five-year maximum penalty also applies to possession of 448 grams of cocaine or methamphetamine, 50 grams of crack cocaine, 28 grams of opium, heroin, or morphine, 1,000 doses of LSD, and 16 ounces of PCP. Whereas for most drug crimes like possession with intent to distribute the government must prove certain “indicia” of sale. That means the government typically needs evidence like scales, baggies, cutting agents, and large quantities of drugs and cash. However, for these five-year mandatory minimum offenses, the large quantities are enough to trigger the mandatory prison time.
Maryland Misdemeanor Offenses
Simple possession of a controlled substance in Maryland is typically a misdemeanor (unless it’s simple possession of the large quantities mentioned above). The maximum penalty for simple possession is four years in prison and/or a fine of $25,000.00. These maximum penalties, however, do not mean that a person convicted will necessarily get the max. Maximum penalties simply mean the legal maximum a judge can sentence someone under the law. Maryland Criminal Code Section 5-601 prohibits the possession of controlled substances and also makes it a crime to try and procure prescription drugs through fraudulent means. This crime is also a misdemeanor and it carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and/or a $5,000.00 fine for first offenders. Second and greater offenses carry larger maximum penalties.
Maryland Marijuana Decriminalization
Maryland Drug Paraphernalia Laws
Accordingly, Maryland courts have outlined factors to consider as evidence that an object or tool is used for drug distribution or consumption. These factors include any expert testimony the government produces, whether any drugs are found in close proximity of the object, if residue from a drug is found in or on the object, advertising or written material evidencing drug use, and prior drug offenses the possessor may have.
On the other hand, Maryland has also decriminalized marijuana paraphernalia that evidences personal use. This includes things like bongs, grinders, rolling papers and other items associated with personal marijuana use.
Diversion in Maryland Drug Cases
Hiring a Maryland Drug Attorney
If charged with a drug offense in Maryland, whether misdemeanor or felony, its always important to consult with a qualified and experienced drug attorney. When looking for an attorney, you should seek out someone with experience practicing in the courthouse where you are charged. Moreover, its important to find someone who will aggressively represent you against the government and not just hold your hand while you plead guilty.
Attorney Paolo Gnocchi is a fearless and aggressive advocate with years of experience defending drug charges in Maryland. She regularly practices in Montgomery, Prince George’s, and surrounding counties in both General District and Circuit Courts. She will give you advice that serves your best interest and ensure your constitutional rights are protected.