Common Drug Offenses Committed In Maryland
Most of the common drug offenses committed in Maryland used to be marijuana cases. Those are generally less and less now that Maryland has changed the law on Marijuana. They basically have decriminalized less than 10 grams, so most of the cases seen now involve the harder drugs, and most of it is possession.
Prescription drugs and pain killers are a very big issue these days, and also there’s a lot of heroin going on.
Even in rural communities you have drug problems. It’s not limited to the cities. People from the cities come out to this area. Garret County doesn’t have any major jails here, but just over the border in West Virginia there’s a Hazleton Jail, which is a federal penitentiary.
In Cumberland, you have federal and state penitentiaries, and both of those tends to bring families and other activities, so it has migrated its way out this area. It’s taken longer to get here, but it is definitely here, so you see those crimes going on all the time.
Determining Whether A Drug Charge Is Going To Fall Under A Misdemeanor Or A Felony In Maryland
Possessions are generally misdemeanors. Anything with possession with intent to distribute or distribution can come into the felony end. All distributions, no matter what, is a felony. Generally, all possessions are misdemeanors.
Definition Of An Unlawful Controlled Substance By The State Law
Unlawful controlled substances are generally defined by the state law in deference to federal law. You have class one, class two, and class three narcotics and depending on the class, those have different classifications.
Maryland generally goes with the Marijuana and not Marijuana as far as most of the statutes are concerned, so they generally lump everything into one big category. Anything that is marijuana related is taken out of that category as far as possession is concerned. With marijuana, you have lower penalties than you do with the harder drugs.
Schedules Or Categories Of Controlled Substances Under Maryland Law
In Maryland, judges look at what the federal category is, but Maryland is generally putting everything into one catch all statute. So if you’re looking at different levels of controlled dangerous substances, it’s something that a judge has more to do with than the law itself.
What Is Considered Possession, Distribution, Sale, And Intent to Distribute Unlawful Drugs In Maryland?
In Maryland, possession comes into a couple of different categories. If you’re looking under marijuana at least, possession, you have three levels of possession. The first possession is under 10 grams, and under 10 grams you’re looking at a citation and a maximum $100 fine. If you have multiple offenses, they can bring you in and force you into drug counseling.
When you get past the possession of 10 grams or more, then you’re looking at a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Depending on how much you have and how is it packaged, you can go to a possession with intent to distribute.
Possession with intent to distribute carries a much harsher sentence and with that it is no set amount as to what possession with intent to distribute is. Typically, police are looking for multiple packaging, or large amounts.
There have been cases where larger amounts have been found as personal use and generally anything where you package it in 10 or more bags, you’re going to find a strong presumption in Maryland law that that would be possession with intent to distribute.
For instance, somebody could have 28 grams of marijuana which is an ounce.
Generally, if you have an ounce of marijuana and you’re holding it in one spot, it is going to be considered a possession. If you are holding it in 28 separate baggies of one gram a piece, that is something that will take this charge for the same amount of drugs and give enough information to say this is possession with intent.
They’ll also look at other factors. For example, if somebody’s carrying scales or if somebody has large amounts of money with them to indicate that they are a potential drug dealer. That gets you into a stronger sentencing, stronger types of cases that the state will have against you.
Then the top is where there’s a distribution, and distribution has been found as easily as one person passing a lit pipe to another person. That becomes a felony and carries much more serious penalties. Typically, with possession with intent or distributions, you’re going to be looking at circuit court cases as opposed to district court cases. It raises the stakes all around.
And when you get into the other drugs, again it’s not a specific weight that takes you over into possession with intent to distribute, it is the actual way it is packaged. Again, there’s case law that basically says that if you have more than 10, a court will generally consider that as possession with intent to distribute.
Again, they always look at the other factors there, but a 10 or more basically gives you very little chance to fight it as far as the legal level. There’s a lot of factual levels you can dispute on these, but as far as whether it’s enough to say it’s possession with intent, if someone has more than 10 bags, their court of appeal case is that 10 bags or more is going to be considered with possession to intent, and that can bring it to a jury trial.
Juries listen to the same arguments and everything that’s going on, and even if you have that amount of possession with intent, a lot of people have facts that show that it’s not really for intent, because it’s the same situation as when you buy a beer. When you buy a beer, do you buy a six pack of beer, or do you buy a case of beer?
Sometimes if people are dealing in drugs or purchasing drugs, they’re going to buy a case of beer, or the same analogy to that. They’re buying something that they can use for two weeks, and when you do that if you purchase it in a six pack, then the police will look at it as, you have six different bags, this is something we can look at a possession with intent.
A lot of these end up in jury trials or trials in front of the court where you’re putting these facts in front of the people to see whether or not somebody’s a casual user or if somebody’s actually a distributor.
For more information on Common Drug Offenses And Their Penalties In Maryland, call the law firm of Phillips, Worthington and Allen for a free initial consultation at (301) 892-6007 and get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.