Drug possession crimes are among the most frequently charged offenses in the Maryland criminal justice system. Sale, distribution, and manufacturing charges are also common in Maryland and are subject to harsh penalties, even if they are first offenses.Maryland Law Imposes Stiff Penalties for Drug Convictions
Maryland sentences relating to illegal possession of any drug except marijuana are some of the harshest in the nation. For example, the maximum sentence for possession of any controlled dangerous substance, which is a misdemeanor in Maryland, includes a $25,000 fine and four years in prison. However, in 2012, the state passed a law lowering the penalty for marijuana possession to no more than one year of imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000.
The penalties in Maryland for selling, distributing, or manufacturing drugs are even harsher than those for possession. These offenses are felonies. Individuals who are charged with manufacturing, selling, or distributing certain drugs, such as LSD or PCP, may be sentenced to 20 years of incarceration plus a possible fine of $20,000. Those facing charges of manufacturing, selling or distributing Schedule I or II narcotics are also subject to 20 years of imprisonment, as well as a $25,000 fine.High Volume or Interstate Drug Activity Leads to Tougher Penalties
Those individuals who are believed to be “volume dealers” due to the quantity of controlled substances that officials believe they are distributing face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a $100,000 fine if convicted. Someone who distributes 28 grams or more of morphine or 1000 units or more of LSD, for example, is considered a volume dealer.
Further, bringing significant amounts of drugs across state lines—such as 28 grams of cocaine, 4 grams of opium, or 1,000 dosage units of LSD into the state—could subject you to federal drug laws, which are harsh. There are also special state laws aimed at punishing “drug kingpins;” a drug kingpin is defined as an organizer, financer, or manager who conspires to transport controlled substances into the state in order to sell or distribute them.Drug Crime Sentences Can Be Enhanced By Several Factors
If you are convicted of more than one drug offense, prior offenses can impact your sentencing in a Maryland court by increasing the mandatory minimum penalties that may be imposed by the judge. For example, the mandatory minimum for a repeat offense of distributing or intending to distribute drugs such as LSD or cocaine is 10 years. The mandatory minimum for a third offense is 25 years. A fourth offense can lead to 40 years of imprisonment and a $100,000 fine.
Sentences for drug charges may also be enhanced for a variety of other reasons. For example, sentences are commonly increased due to a drug being distributed within 1,000 feet of a school. The penalty for this is up to 20 years of incarceration and a $20,000 fine. Another common reason a sentence is increased is that the state is able to show a defendant possessed a firearm, and that the possession was related to trafficking in a drug other than marijuana.
A drug conviction can lead to harsh legal consequences, and may also impact other aspects of your life such as your ability to find a job or a place to live. A Maryland drug crime lawyer who has knowledge of state and federal drug laws can examine your case for police procedural errors and other substantive or constitutional arguments you can potentially use to reduce the charges against you or win your drug case at trial. If you are facing drug charges, we recommend that you contact the experienced Maryland criminal defense attorneys at the office of Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC right away. Call us at (301) 519-2801, or submit our online contact form today.