Drug possession is one of the most commonly charged crimes in Baltimore. While laws have been passed in recent years lowering the penalties for possession of marijuana, no such changes have been made to the drug possession laws regarding cocaine. Cocaine is a Schedule I drug in the state of Maryland, meaning that it has no medical or other valid purpose in the eyes of the state. Being convicted of possession of a Schedule I drug like cocaine can result in harsh penalties, including serious prison sentences.
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our compassionate Baltimore cocaine possession defense lawyers know how scary and disorienting being charged with a crime can be. We understand that people become addicts for a variety of different reasons, and that treatment and not jail time is often what our clients need. We will fight to get your charges downgraded or dismissed and to get you into a treatment program if that is what you desire. For a free consultation, call us today at (410) 694-7291.
Cocaine Possession vs. Possession with the Intent to Distribute in Baltimore
There are two types of cocaine possession crimes in Baltimore: simple possession, and possession with the intent to distribute. Of the two, possession with the intent to distribute is the more serious. Simple possession can be charged if any amount of cocaine is found on your person or in an area under your control, like under your bed or in the glovebox of your vehicle. Even a trace amount of cocaine residue is enough for you to be charged with possession. Possession is a misdemeanor.
Possession with the intent to distribute means that the police do not have direct evidence that you are selling or distributing cocaine, but they believe you have the intent to do so. This can be based on circumstantial evidence like the fact that you are in possession of a large amount of cocaine, way more than would ever be necessary for personal use. It can also be based on texts, calls, or other communications you made indicating an intent to sell. Possession with the intent to distribute is a felony.
The prosecution must prove intent for a possession with the intent to distribute conviction, which can be difficult to do. An experienced Baltimore cocaine possession defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice will work to convince the prosecutor, judge, and jury that you did not have the requisite intent and that the charge should be downgraded to simple possession.
How a Cocaine Possession Case Plays Out in the Baltimore Criminal Justice System
After you are arrested for cocaine possession, you will typically be held in jail until your arraignment. An arraignment is when you appear before the judge for the first time and the judge reads you the charges against you, reads you your rights as a criminal defendant, and asks you to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Most likely, if you have retained a criminal defense attorney as you should have by this point, they will advise you to plead not guilty while they request discovery and investigate the strengths and weaknesses of the state’s case.
Especially if this is the first time you have faced a drug possession charge, your attorney’s first play will likely be to get you into some sort of pre-trial diversion program. This program will involve you getting substance abuse treatment and making regular reports back to the court. If you complete the program successfully, your charges will be dropped. A similar option is what is known as “probation before judgment.” In this case, you will be put on probation before a judgment of guilty or not guilty is entered, with one of the conditions being drug treatment. If you complete your probation successfully without any violations, the charges will be dropped without you having a criminal record.
If a pre-trial diversion program is not in the cards, your lawyer will work to try and get the prosecutor to agree to a plea deal. This deal might involve the charges being downgraded to something less serious. It also might involve pleading to the current charge, but with the prosecutor’s promise to recommend a lenient sentence, potentially including drug treatment.
If a deal cannot be reached or you do not wish to accept one, our attorneys are ready and willing to aggressively defend your case at trial and fight for a verdict of not guilty.
Penalties for Cocaine Possession in Baltimore
Simple possession of cocaine is a misdemeanor, and if convicted you can face up to 4 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000. Possession of more than 28 g of cocaine can bring even harsher penalties: imprisonment of up to 25 years and fines up to $50,000.
Possession with the intent to distribute is a felony, and if convicted as a first-time offender you can face up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000. For subsequent convictions, the penalties are even higher and contain mandatory minimum prison time. If you are found guilty of possession with intent to distribute 448 grams or more of cocaine, even as a first-time offender, you will have a mandatory minimum sentence of 40 years in prison.. If you are found to be a cocaine “kingpin” running a large-scale drug trafficking operation, you can face up to 40 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.
If You Have Been Charged with Cocaine Possession in Baltimore, Call Our Lawyers Today
Cocaine possession charges are serious business, and if you do not treat them as such, you can end up facing extremely harsh penalties. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our experienced Baltimore cocaine possession attorneys have years of positive results for our clients to show for our efforts. We will advocate for you to get drug treatment instead of facing harsh jail sentences, if that is what you need. We will fight to work out a deal where your charges are downgraded or dismissed, and, if the prosecutor won’t give us a fair deal, we will mount an aggressive defense for you at trial. Call us today at (410) 694-7291 for a free, confidential consultation.