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Published on 4/28/2022, 3:26:00 PM

CDS Poss w int to Dist, Possession with intent in Maryland explained

If you, or a family member, has was recently arrested on drug charges, you may be curious as to what they are charged with. If you see "CDS: Poss W/I Dist" on a charging document, then a person was charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance in Maryland.

This article will discuss what possession with intent charges are, how they are different than drug distribution charges, what the maximum penalties are for each, and some of the lesser charges a person might receive in the same charging document.

Possession with intent to distribute charges in Maryland.

Man holding money and drugs

In a Maryland possession with intent to distribute case, the State of Maryland must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

(1) that the defendant possessed a controlled dangerous substance [This is a scientific test]; and

(2) that the defendant possessed a controlled dangerous substance with the intent to distribute some or all of it.

The State can prove intent to distribute a variety of ways, as Distribute is understood to mean to sell, exchange, or transfer possession of the substance, or to give it away. The State may offer the quantity of the controlled dangerous substance along with all other circumstances to make their case that a person intended to distribute a controlled dangerous substance.

Possession with intent to distribute or more commonly PWID, is a felony charge that arises from conduct that falls short of actual distribution, but the State believes could still support proof that the person was intending to distribute.

The State often puts forth this theory of "intent to distribute" by showing factors that would lead a jury to the conclusion of intent. Some of these include:

  • The presence of large amounts of a controlled dangerous substance

  • The way the controlled dangerous substances are packaged, for example, packaged in small amounts for "sale"

  • The presence of a scale to weigh drugs for sale

  • The presence of large amounts of cash, which is typically seized in these cases

  • Search and seizure warrants of cellphones, which often contain messages and photos indicating drug sales

  • The presence of a ledger or log of drug sales

  • Testimony of buyers or undercover police officers who arranged purchases

  • Incriminating Statements of the Defendant

What are the maximum penalties for possession with intent to distribute?

inside of jail
All Maryland possession with intent to distribute cases are felonies; however, the penalties vary based upon the substance that a person is alleged to have possessed.

Possession with intent to distribute marijuana is a felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years of jail time.

Possession with intent to distribute a narcotic drug or hallucinogenic drug is a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years of jail time and a $15,000 fine.

There are additional penalties for subsequent offenders, and for those who possess fentanyl with intent to distribute.

Additionally, the presence of firearms in a PWID case often brings gun charges, and the potential for charges that include mandatory minimums like Possession of a Firearm in a Nexus to a Drug Trafficking crime.

How do you defend a charge of possession with intent?

Every Maryland possession with intent case is different, but below are some common defenses to PWID cases:

  1. Most possession with intent cases begin with a roadside stop, which is subject to challenge under the fourth amendment of the United States Constitution, and relevant Maryland law;

  2. Vehicle searches must be done by warrant, or by following a warrantless search exception for motor vehicles. These searches are always subject to challenge.

  3. Often searches of cellphones are done by warrant, these warrants are subject to challenge.

  4. Search warrants of homes can be challenged in Court;

  5. Statements of Defendants are subjects to limitations, like improper Miranda warnings;

  6. The State must put on scientific evidence to prove something is a controlled dangerous substance. This process is subject to challenge;

  7. Many PWID cases are just over charged possession cases, when a person chooses to buy controlled substances in a larger quantity for personal use, this can be mistaken for an intent to distribute.

These are just some examples of the many different defenses a criminal lawyer can use in a controlled dangerous substance case. You can discuss your case with a maryland criminal lawyer during a free consultation

CDS dist-narc, What is drug distribution?

hand-to-hand transaction
If you see CDS dist-narc on a charging document, a person is facing drug distribution charges in Maryland. Unlike possession with intent to distribute, Drug distribution charges require that the state actually prove a sale or transfer of controlled dangerous substances.

For the state to prove a drug distribution charge, they must prove that:

the defendant sold, exchanged, transferred, or gave away a controlled dangerous substance [this is a scientific test] ; and

(2) that the substance was a controlled dangerous substance.

What are the maximum penalties associated with drug distribution in Maryland.

Drug distribution and possession with intent to distribute carry the same maximum penalties. They are both felonies, and could easily land a Defendant in prison, even for a first offense.

Repeat offenders face the possibility of mandatory jail sentences. There are also enhancements for "large amount" and fentanyl heroin mix.

How do you fight a drug distribution charge?

Drug distribution cases are often proven through actual documented sales. Sometimes these sales are done with an informant, other times an Officer observes sales.

It is crucial to legally attack the "point of sale" in the State's case. Whether that means unmasking the informant, or challenging the admissibility of a recording, these cases often have a single event that must be challenged.

There is also a scientific angle to every controlled dangerous substance case, and the same level of proof is required as a simple possession case.

Other Drug Distribution Charges

Maryland has several additional drug distribution related charges like Drug Kingpin, a felony charge with a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years of jail time.

"Volume Dealer", which is a felony that carries a mandatory minimum for Defendants convicted of having larger amounts of certain drugs. If you see CDS POSSESS - LARGE AMOUNT on a person's charging document, then they were charged based on the amount of drugs they possessed.

"Importer of Drugs" a felony based upon large scale importation of drugs into Maryland that carries a twenty year maximum, unless it is marijuana, which carries a 10 year maximum.

What is a controlled dangerous substance?

Controlled dangerous substances are regulated by the State of Maryland, and include a wide array of both "legal" and "illegal" substances.
pills
A few examples include:

  • Marijuana

  • Heroin

  • Fentanyl

  • Cocaine

  • Crack

  • 3,4-Methyl?enedioxy?methamphetamine ("MDMA", "Extasy", or "Molly")

  • Methenamine("Meth")

  • Painkillers

  • Phencyclidine ("PCP")

These are not an exhaustive list of all controlled dangerous substances in Maryland. That can be found in Schedule I - Schedule V of Maryland Controlled Dangerous Substances

CDS: possess-not marijuana, Possession of a controlled dangerous substance

hands holding pills
If you see "CDS: Possess-Not Marijuana" on a persons' charging document, then they were charged with possession of drugs in Maryland. Possession of drugs in Maryland is a misdemeanor, and is charged as possession of a controlled dangerous substance, or "CDS".

For the State to prove possession, they must show

(1) that the defendant knowingly possessed the substance;

(2) that the defendant knew the general character or illicit nature of the substance; and

(3) that the substance was a controlled dangerous substance (this is a scientific test).

Maximum penalty

Possession of a controlled dangerous substance, other than marijuana, carries a maximum penalty of 1 year or a fine not exceeding $5,000 for a first offense; for a second or third conviction, 18 months or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or; for a fourth or subsequent conviction, imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both.

Possession of marijuana under 10 grams is a civil fine only offense. Possession of over 10 grams of marijuana is a criminal offense with a maximum penalty of 6 months or a fine not exceeding $1,000 or both.

Defenses to CDS Possession cases

Common Defenses in drug possession cases include:

  • The person had a valid prescription for the controlled dangerous substance

  • The person was not in actual or constructive possession of the drug

  • The stop of the motor vehicle that yielded the drugs was illegal

  • The search that resulted in the drugs was illegal

  • The substance is not in fact a drug (this is scientific)

  • Another person actually possessed the drug

  • The person had no knowledge of the drug being where it was found

  • There are additional defenses to CDS cases that you should discuss with a Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer.

CDS:poss paraphernalia, Possession of Paraphernalia

spoon and needleDrug Paraphernalia in Maryland is illegal; however, a first offense only carries a payable fine. Drug paraphernalia covers a wide range of things. Common examples include:

  • Used needles

  • Empty drug baggies

  • Bongs or smoking devices

  • Spoons used to heat up certain drugs

  • Straws used to inhale drugs.

It can be difficult for the State to prove a common every day thing lie a straw is "drug paraphernalia". A Court will consider any of the following when evaluating if something is drug paraphernalia
  1. any statement by an owner or a person in control of the object concerning its use;

  2. any prior conviction of an owner or a person in control of the object under a State or federal law relating to a controlled dangerous substance;

  3. the proximity of the object, in time and space, to a direct violation of this section or to a controlled dangerous substance;

  4. a residue of a controlled dangerous substance on the object;

  5. direct or circumstantial evidence of the intent of an owner or a person in control of the object to deliver it to another who, the owner or the person knows or should reasonably know, intends to use the object to facilitate a violation of this section;

  6. any instructions, oral or written, provided with the object concerning its use;

  7. any descriptive materials accompanying the object that explain or depict its use;

  8. national and local advertising concerning use of the object;

  9. the manner in which the object is displayed for sale;

  10. whether the owner or a person in control of the object is a licensed distributor or dealer of tobacco products or other legitimate supplier of related items to the community;

  11. direct or circumstantial evidence of the ratio of sales of the object to the total sales of the business enterprise;

  12. the existence and scope of legitimate uses for the object in the community; and

  13. expert testimony concerning use of the object.

Maximum penalty

Possession of paraphernalia has a maximum penalty of $500. Although a first offense is "fine only" it is still a criminal offense that will end up on your record. That is why it's important to contact an attorney.

If a person has a prior paraphernalia conviction, they could face up to 2 years of jail time or a fine not exceeding $2,000 or both.

Do you have drug charges in Maryland?

The criminal defense attorneys with FrizWoods would be more than happy to provide you with a free consultation regarding your case. All consultations are attorney client privileged, and have a twenty four seven attorney line that never closes.

If you or a loved one received criminal charges, do not wait to search for an attorney.