Maryland Drug Crime Lawyer | MD Drug Laws Explained by a Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer
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 Maryland drug case?
There are many different ways to beat a drug case in Maryland where legal defenses usually come into play in drug cases.
Generally, maryland drug possession and distribution defenses fall in 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.
What other defenses might work in my drugs case?
In addition to legal defenses, criminal defense attorneys will often argue factual defenses. These defenses may revolve around who actually possessed the drugs, eg. a car with multiple people in it.
In the alternative, a drug crime lawyer might argue that a large amount of drugs was for personal use, not distribution.
In a drug trafficking case, a drug lawyer might argue the State entrapped their client by enticing them to purchase or sell drugs that they wouldn't have done otherwise.
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. Our past client reviews speak for themselves.
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 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:
Possession of Drugs in Maryland (CDS Poss not MJ / CDS Poss) | Maryland Drug Possession Charges
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.
Possessing of Drugs in a Jail | Poss/Rec CDS While Conf/Det
If a person possesses or receives drugs in a place of confinement, like a jail, they may be charged with an additional charge. This special drug possession charge carries a maximum penalty of three years in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. This charge commonly reads "POSS/REC CDS WHILE CONF/DET" on a charging document.
MD Drug Distribution Charges & Penalties
Felony Drug Distribution Charges Under Maryland Criminal Law Statute Section 5-602 carry the following maximum penalties:
(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 in my drug case?
The State of Maryland has a wide array of potential enhancements that they can seek against someone who is alleged to have distributed drugs, some examples include:
10 additional years in prison for a person who distributed a heroin and fentanyl mix
Five years of Mandatory incarceration without parole, wiht a maximum of twenty years of additional incarceration for the use of a firearm in a sufficient nexus to a drug trafficking crime
Five years of incarceration for possessing a firearm after being previously convicted of a felony drug offense
Maryland Drug Felonies Other than Distribution
Maryland has several additional drug felonies including:
A drug kingpin is a person alleged to have been an organizer, supervisor, financier, or manager who acts as a coconspirator in a conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, dispense, transport in, or bring into the State a controlled dangerous substance.
This felony carries a mandatory 20 year sentence without the possibility of parole and a fine not to exceed one million dollars.
The maximum penalty of this offense is fourty years in prison.
Possession of a Large Amount of Drugs | CDS Poss Large Amount
If a person has enough drugs, they can be charged with a special offense of possession of a large amount of drugs. What qualifies for a "large amount" really depends on what type of drug a person is charged with. Some common examples of large amount charges include but are not limited to:
- 28 grams or more of cocaine;
- 4 grams or more of morphine or opium or any derivative, salt, isomer, or salt of an isomer of morphine or opium;
- 28 grams or more of phencyclidine in liquid or powder form;
- 28 grams or more of methamphetamine;
- 4 grams or more of fentanyl or a fentanyl analogue
This offenses carries a five year mandatory minimum sentence that cannot be suspended and during which a person is not parole eligible.
Drug Paraphernalia (CDS Poss Paraphernalia) & Marijuana Charges
Maryland has a criminal charge for possession of paraphernalia; however, it only carries a monetary fine for a first offender, and up to two years in jail for a second offense or more. This charge is commonly listed as cds poss paraphernalia on a summons or charging document. Most Maryland possession cases involve a parahernalia charge.
Maryland's Marijuana laws involve civil penalties for possession below certain amounts, but still provide for felony charges related to distribution.
Contact a Defense Lawyer Today
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 criminal defense lawyers Max Frizalone or Luke Woods. Maryland's drug law can be confusing, but having a criminal defense lawyer who specializes in drug crimes could be the key in your defense. Our law firm is happy to take on your drug crime case with lawyers serving every major county in Maryland including Prince George's County, Howard County, and Anne Arundel County.
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.