Caught a drug charge?
Maryland Drug Charges come in two major variations, misdemeanor drug possession charges and felony drug distribution charges. While there are several niche charges related to drug possession and firearms, most drug cases involve either possession or distribution, or both.
Both of these charges place a high burden on the State to prove, through scientific evidence, that the substance possessed by a person was in fact a controlled dangerous substance. Typically, the State does so by sending the substance to a Police Laboratory where a forensic scientist will test the material using State approved technology. The most popular method of testing controlled dangerous substances is Gas Chromatography using a Mass Spectrometer (GCMS), in conjunction with basic confirmatory color tests. Different labs across Maryland use different equipment. An experienced Drug Attorney will know exactly how to challenge lab results, interpret the results, and ultimately argue for its suppression.
How do I beat my drug case?
Generally, possession and distribution defenses fall on two major areas of law:
Challenges to searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution;
Scientific challenges under Maryland's Daubert standard.
What are some typical challenges under the Fourth Amendment?
Most drug charges arise from roadside stops and vehicle searches. Both the seizure of your vehicle and the subsequent search are governed by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and established Maryland law. The purpose for stopping a vehicle can be challenged, along with the probable cause for searching a vehicle. A knowledgeable drug charge lawyer will know exactly what to challenge, and what law he needs to bring to a suppression hearing.
How can you challenge the scientific evidence?
Maryland recently adopted a more rigid Daubert standard for scientific evidence in a 2019 opinion, Rochkind v. Stevenson, 471 Md. 1 (2020). Maryland's new standard for expert testimony is located in Rule 5-702 and states that:
Expert testimony may be admitted, in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if the court determines that the testimony will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue. In making that determination, the court shall determine
(1) whether the witness is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education,
(2) the appropriateness of the expert testimony on the particular subject, and
(3) whether a sufficient factual basis exists to support the expert testimony.
High quality Maryland drug case attorneys will understand exactly how to challenge a witness's qualifications, the appropriateness of their testimony, and the lack of a factual basis for the expert's testimony.
Former PG Prosecutor Max & Criminal Defense Attorney Luke
Max Frizalone accrued felony trial experience in his prior roles as a prince george's county prosecutor, public defender, and private attorney. Max has defended felony drug cases in Circuit Courts throughout Maryland. Max has also handled countless drug possession cases in District Court, having previously had charges dismissed and client's acquitted who were charged with drug offenses. Max and Luke have worked together to have high profile cases dismissed in the past, including two first degree rapes. Max is unafraid of taking a case to trial, which has earned him the respect of numerous States Attorney's Offices, and judges alike. Max and Luke make a great team, having previously collaborated on charges to include first-degree murder.
Luke Woods is a veteran trial attorney with over two decades of purely criminal defense experience. Luke has experience defending clients in felony cases of all varieties, including charges arisig from the possession and distribution of drugs. Luke has earned acquittals, dismissals, and not guilty jury verdicts on countless felony cases during his career as a private attorney through motions, trials, and investigations. Luke is highly regarded by Courts accross the State for his ability to identify and pursue defenses that other attorneys might overlook. Luke will leverage his knowledge of felony cases to ensure your case is dismissed before indictment. The most important thing you can do if charged with a felony is call hire experienced legal counsel like Luke Woods who knows the ins and outs of the criminal justice system. Call today and speak with him directly for a free case analysis.
What is at stake in my case?
Drug cases can be high stakes, because there is a possibility of incarceration for nearly ever drug charge in Maryland. With the exception of a paraphernalia charge or marijuana possession under 10 grams charge, every other Maryland drug charge carries a penalty of incarceration. For felony possession with intent cases, penalties can also increase based on the type of substance that was allegedly found. These sentencing enhancements can make or break a person's case.
Below is a basic simplified breakdown of potential penalties in drug cases that involve controlled dangerous substances other than marijuana:
Misdemeanor Drug Possession under Maryland Criminal Law Statute Section 5-601
(i) for a first conviction, imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both;
(ii) for a second or third conviction, imprisonment not exceeding 18 months or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both; or
(iii) for a fourth or subsequent conviction, imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both.
Felony Drug Distribution Charges Under Maryland Criminal Law Statute Section 5-602
(i) for a first conviction, imprisonment not exceeding 20 years or a fine not exceeding $15,000 or both
(ii)for a second conviction 20 years or a fine not exceeding $15,000 or both (iii) for a third conviction imprisonment not exceeding 25 years or a fine not exceeding $25,000 or both
(iv) for a fourth conviction imprisonment not exceeding 40 years or a fine not exceeding $25,000 or both if the person previously has served three or more separate terms of confinement as a result of three or more separate convictions
Why am I charged with both possession and distribution?Police in the State of Maryland frequently charge both possession and distribution of drugs within the same case. Distribution can be proven through quantity alone, so it is possible to be charged with distribution even without Police observing a sale of drugs. An experienced Maryland Drug Case Attorney will know how to show a Court or Jury the absence of typical indicators of distribution, like possession of a scale, drugs packaged for sale, and large amounts of U.S. currency.
What kind of enhancements can the State use?The State of Maryland has a wide array of potential enhancements that they can seek against someone who:
- 10 YEAR ENHANCEMENT Is alleged to have distributed a heroin and fentanyl mix
We pride ourselves on being one of Maryland's most accessible law firms. Our 24 hour attorney line is always open, give us a call and be directly connected with Max Frizalone or Luke. We are more than happy to give you a free consultation and case review. Don't wait until the last minute to find the right attorney for your case. Call us or fill out one of our contact forms to request an appointment today.
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14513 Main Street, Ste B,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772