Maryland Drug Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with any type of drug crime in Maryland, you probably have many questions about your upcoming legal battle. What sort of charges and penalties could you face? What types of defenses are available? Will this affect your ability to keep your job or continue to work in your current field? Will you be found guilty of a crime even if I was using a controlled substance out of medical necessity? Why is the court trying to prove that you intended to distribute drugs when you never had any intention of doing so?
By hiring an experienced drug attorney in Maryland, you’ll be able to find the answers to these questions and many more. Most importantly, you’ll have expert legal representation before, during and after your trial. One of our Maryland drug lawyers will work with you closely to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. Your attorney will draw on expert knowledge of Maryland’s drug crime laws and years of experience fighting and winning difficult legal battles in pursuit of this goal.
Drug Possession Crimes in Maryland
Crimes of simple drug possession and administration are covered by Maryland criminal code § 5-601. According to this code, it is illegal for a person to possess a controlled dangerous substance without a valid prescription from an authorized provider. This same code makes it equally illegal to administer a controlled dangerous substance to another person without the proper authorization.
Further, part (2) of this code makes it illegal to obtain or attempt to procure a controlled dangerous substance through means such as subterfuge, misrepresentation, deceit, fraud, counterfeiting a prescription, concealing a material fact, identity theft or the use of a false address or name. It’s also illegal to attempt to obtain a controlled dangerous substance from a physician, and this communication is not covered by doctor-patient confidentiality clauses.
The penalty for simple possession of a controlled dangerous substance is a misdemeanor, along with up to 4 years in prison and no more than $25,000 in fines. The actual penalties are often much lower, and depend on the specific circumstances and nature of your case.
In general, penalties for possession of drugs such as meth and cocaine are much stiffer than they are for controlled substances deemed less dangerous and/or addictive. If the controlled dangerous substance is marijuana, the maximum penalty is up to 1 year in jail and no more than $1,000 in fines. If the defendant can prove that he or she was in possession of the marijuana as a result of medical necessity, the maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of no more than $100. Given the murkiness of these laws and the possibility for multiple interpretations, having a skilled Maryland drug attorney by your side could make the difference between facing heavy consequences and little to no penalty at all. Please visit the other pages if you need representation for DC or Virginia-related drug cases.
Drug Distribution and Manufacturing Crimes
Crimes covered by Maryland criminal code § 5-602 are considered more serious than simple drug possession crimes. According to this code, it is illegal to dispense, manufacture or distribute a controlled dangerous substance such as methamphetamine or crack cocaine. Further, part (2) of this code makes it illegal to possess a controlled dangerous substance in a large enough quantity that your intention is clearly to dispense or distribute it.
Maryland criminal code § 5-603, a code related to § 5-602, covers laws pertaining to possessing the equipment necessary for manufacturing a controlled dangerous substance. According to this code, it is illegal to possess a device, implement, instrument, equipment, machine or some combination of the above with the intention of manufacturing or distributing a controlled dangerous substance. This code may only be enforced if the court can prove that you possess the equipment with the intention of producing a drug for the purpose of distributing it.
According to state code § 5-607, the penalty for violating either of these laws is a felony, as well as up to 5 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $15,000. However, repeat offenders face the same maximum penalties along with a minimum incarceration term of 2 years. This is a mandatory minimum during which no parole shall be granted under any circumstances.
Penalties are stiffer still if a controlled dangerous substance is manufactured or possessed with the intent to distribute on, in or within 1,000 feet of a public or private school. According to criminal code § 5-627, the penalty is a felony along with up to 20 years in prison, plus no more than $20,000 in fines. Subsequent violations result in between 5 and 40 years in prison, plus up to $40,000 in fines. Five years incarceration is the mandatory minimum in the case of repeat offenders.
Further, criminal code § 5-610 states that violators may be required to pay a restitution fee to have any facilities or laboratories in which controlled dangerous substances were manufactured to be remediated or cleaned up. This fee is charged separately from any fines incurred for the crime itself.
Counterfeit Substance and False Prescription Crimes in Maryland
According to Maryland criminal code § 5-604, it is illegal to distribute or manufacture a counterfeit substance, just as it is illegal to possess a counterfeit substance with the intention of distributing it. This code defines a counterfeit substance as any controlled dangerous substance (or a label or container used to identify a controlled dangerous substance) that is intentionally misrepresented. For example, the product would be considered a counterfeit substance if its packaging indicates that it came from a dispenser, distributor or manufacturer other than its actual one. In another example, a substance could be considered counterfeit if it carries an identifying mark or name misidentifying it.
Further, part (c) of this code makes it illegal to possess any type of equipment, such as a labeling machine, with the intention of using it to render any substance a counterfeit substance. For example, it would be illegal to use a device to remove the text from a pill or tablet and rebrand it with a different label.
Similarly, Maryland criminal code § 5-606 makes it illegal to possess, make, issue or pass a counterfeit, altered or otherwise false prescription for a controlled dangerous substance. Specifically, this law prohibits falsifying a prescription with the intention of distributing a controlled dangerous substance. If you attempt to obtain a false prescription by communicating with an authorized prescriber such as a physician, this communication is not considered privileged.
The penalty for violating state codes 5-604 and 5-606 is a felony, as well as up to $15,000 in fines and no more than 5 years incarceration. While the maximum penalties are the same for repeat offenders, the minimum penalty is raised to 2 years in prison. This is the mandatory minimum sentence, with no possibility of parole during these two years.
Penalties for Narcotic Drug Crimes
Special penalties are reserved for violations of Maryland criminal codes § 5-602 through 5-606 that involve Schedule I and II narcotic drugs. Violations of this type result in a felony, plus up to 20 years in prison and no more than $25,000 in fines. The specific penalty will depend on the exact circumstances of the crime, including the amount of controlled dangerous substances possessed and the level of distribution.
According to Maryland criminal code § 5-608, the penalties are even stiffer for repeat offenders. Second-time offenders face a minimum of 10 years in prison plus up to $100,000 in fines, with 10 years being a mandatory minimum during which no parole may be granted. For third-time offenders, the penalty is a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison, plus up to $100,000 in fines. The fines remain the same for fourth-time offenders, though the minimum mandatory sentence is increased to 40 years. The offender is not eligible for parole during any of these mandatory minimum sentences.
According to Maryland criminal code § 5-609, the penalties are the same for violations involving Schedule I and II hallucinogenic substances such as phencyclidine, LSD and MDMA, with the only exception being that first-time offenders are subject to a maximum of 20 years in prison and $20,000 in fines as opposed to up to $25,000 in fines. The penalties for repeat offenders are identical to those for violations involving Schedule I and II narcotic drugs.
Drug Paraphernalia Laws in Maryland
Maryland criminal code § 5-619 covers laws pertaining to drug paraphernalia, which is illegal in Maryland. According to this code, an object can be considered drug paraphernalia if it is possessed with the intention of concealing, containing, storing, packing, analyzing, testing, preparing, processing, producing, converting, compounding, manufacturing, harvesting, growing, cultivating, propagating or planting controlled dangerous substances. An item can also be considered drug paraphernalia if it is possessed with the intention of inhaling, ingesting or injecting a controlled dangerous substance into the human body.
Some of the factors used to determine whether an object is considered drug paraphernalia by the courts include the following:
- Statements made by the individual in possession of the object
- Prior convictions for controlled dangerous substances
- Proximity of the object in space and time to a controlled dangerous substance
- Residue on the object
- Circumstantial or direct evidence indicating intent
- Instructions included with the object
- Advertising for the object
- How the object is displayed for sale
- Whether the owner is licensed to distribute tobacco products
- Whether the object has legitimate uses other that something to do with a controlled dangerous substance
- Expert testimony regarding how the object can be used
Even items that are not traditionally regarded as drug paraphernalia, such as staplers, staples, measuring spoons, strainers, sieves and kitchen scales, can be deemed as such given the correct circumstances. However, these circumstances are often subject to interpretation. This is one reason why having the assistance of a qualified, seasoned Maryland drug defense attorney can greatly improve your odds of receiving a favorable outcome to your case.
The penalty for violating Maryland drug paraphernalia laws is a misdemeanor, plus a fine of up to $500 for first-time offenders. For repeat offenders, the penalty is up to 2 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. However, if the defendant can prove that the drug paraphernalia is related to marijuana and used to address a medical necessity, the maximum fine is only $100.
Individuals found guilty of selling or delivering drug paraphernalia as opposed to merely possessing it are subject to the same penalties. However, if the defendant is 18 years of age or older and the recipient is a minor at least 3 years junior to the defendant, the penalty is a separate misdemeanor along with up to 8 years of incarceration and no more than $15,000 in fines.
Profiting from a Drug Crime in Maryland
According to Maryland code § 5-623, it is illegal to profit from or acquire proceeds from any type of drug crime. This same code makes it illegal to be involved in any way in a financial transaction related to a drug crime, including supervising, managing, financing, initiating, organizing, planning, promoting, directing or otherwise facilitating the transfer of proceeds derived from any drug crime.
The penalty for violating this code is a felony, as well as up to 5 years in prison for first-time offenders. In addition, first-time offenders must pay a fine not to exceed double the value of funds involved in the financial transaction or $250,000, whichever is greater. For repeat offenders, the penalty escalates to 5 years in prison, plus a fine not to exceed five times the value of funds involved in the financial transaction or $500,000, whichever is greater. Each financial transaction that occurred may be charged as a separate offense with separate and consecutive penalties.
Volume Dealer and Drug Kingpin Crimes in Maryland
The most serious drug crimes handled by the Maryland judicial system include volume dealer and drug kingpin crimes. These charges are reserved for individuals suspected of manufacturing and/or distributing controlled dangerous substances in large quantities.
According to Maryland criminal code § 5-612, an individual may be charged as a volume dealer if they’re found manufacturing, possessing, dispensing or distributing controlled dangerous quantities in the following quantities:
- Over 50 pounds of marijuana
- Over 448 grams of cocaine
- Over 50 grams of crack cocaine
- Over 28 grams of opium or morphine
- Over 1,000 doses of LSD
- Over 1 pound of liquid phencyclidine
- Over 448 grams of any mixture including phencyclidine
- Over 448 grams of methamphetamine
The penalty for a volume dealer violation in Maryland is no less than 5 years in prison, along with up to $100,000 in fines. Five years is the mandatory minimum sentence and is not subject to suspension.
Maryland criminal code § 5-613 defines a drug kingpin as a manager, supervisor, financier or organizer who conspires to dispense, distribute, manufacture or transport controlled dangerous substances into Maryland. The penalty for being a drug kingpin in Maryland is a felony, as well as between 20 and 40 years with no possibility of parole, plus up to $1,000,000 in fines. Twenty year is the mandatory minimum, during which no possibility of parole may be granted regardless of the judge’s specific sentencing.
Maryland Drug Crime Statistics
The total number of drug arrests in Maryland decreased from 57,680 in 2008 to 51,898 in 2009, a 10% decline. In 2009, 32% of all drug arrestees were under the age of 21, while 13% were under the age of 18. Over 51% of drug arrests in 2009 and 47% in 2008 involved marijuana, while opium, cocaine and their derivatives accounted for 44% of drug arrests in 2009 and 49% in 2008. In both years, 77% of drug arrests were for possession and the remaining 23% were for manufacture, sale and distribution.
A total of 11,777 drug sale and manufacture crimes were prosecuted in 2009, down significantly from the above-13,000 figures delivered every year since at least 2005. However, 41,883 drug possession crimes were charged in 2009 as well, up from 39,858 in 2005. Less than 5% of drug crimes in Maryland in 2009 involved synthetic drugs, though we could expect that percentage to be much greater for more recent years given the increasing prevalence of methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs.
With 23,929 total drug arrests, Baltimore City had more drug crime in 2009 than virtually all other areas of Baltimore combined. However, the drug crime rate in Baltimore still dropped by 14.1% from the previous year. In fact, drug crime rates declined in all Maryland counties from 2008 through 2009 with the exceptions of Baltimore, Caroline, Ann Arundel and Montgomery counties. The counties that experienced the largest drops in drug arrest rates included Carroll, Cecil, Dorchester, Garrett, Harford, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Wicomico.