Section 5-612 of the Maryland Criminal Code deals with drug trafficking offenses, or large-scale (“volume”) sales. Because this statute deals specifically with large quantities of drugs, the criminal penalties imposed for violations are severe – particularly for offenders with prior records. The law requires courts to impose stiff mandatory minimum sentences, making prison time a serious threat in drug trafficking cases. The criminal fines for drug distribution can also be devastating, reaching into the six-figure range.
If you or one of your family members has been charged with drug trafficking in Baltimore, or is under investigation for involvement in a drug trafficking ring, it is critical to consult a skilled attorney right away. Drug trafficking charges carry some of the harshest penalties under law, making it urgent to protect yourself strategically. To arrange a free legal consultation with an experienced Baltimore drug trafficking attorney, contact the Law Offices of Randolph Rice online, or call (410) 694-7291. We are available 24 hours a day to provide assistance throughout the Baltimore area.
What Are Examples of Schedule I Drugs?
Before discussing how Section 5-612 defines or penalizes drug trafficking, it is important to explain drug schedules. “Scheduling,” which refers to the categorization of controlled substances, is based on a drug’s therapeutic value and “potential for abuse.”
There are five drug schedules, or categories, under federal law: Schedule V, Schedule IV, Schedule III, Schedule II, and Schedule I. The lower the number, the higher the potential for abuse – and, in many cases, the greater the penalties for possession, distribution, or manufacture of that drug.
Schedule I controlled substances are drugs that, according to the DEA, “have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.” As of mid-2019, controlled substances in this category include:
- LSD (acid)
- Marijuana (cannabis, pot, weed)
- MDMA (E, ecstasy, molly)
What Are Schedule II Controlled Substances?
Schedule II drugs are considered less destructive than Schedule I drugs, but still dangerous and therefore associated with stiff fines and prison sentences. As the DEA puts it, “Substances in this schedule have a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.”
Many of the most commonly abused opioids and prescription drugs fall into this category. Under current law, Schedule II substances include but are not limited to the following:
- Cocaine (both crack cocaine and powder forms)
Who is a “Volume Dealer” Under Section 5-612?
Section 5-612 of the Maryland Criminal Code addresses “volume dealers,” or drug dealers with large-scale distribution and trafficking operations. This statute bans possessing, distributing, or manufacturing any of the following:
- Cocaine (Schedule II) – 448 grams or more
- Crack Cocaine (Schedule II) – 50 grams or more
- Liquid PCP (Schedule II) – 16 ounces or more
- LSD (Schedule I) – 1,000 or more “dosage units”
- Marijuana (Schedule I) – 50 pounds or more
- Methamphetamine (Schedule II) – 448 grams or more
- Morphine (Schedule II) – 28 grams or more
Critically, the statute allows the state to combine (aggregate) separate acts that occurred over a 90-day period. That means two or more transactions, during a three-month period, could add up to exceed the thresholds above.
Is Drug Trafficking a Felony?
In short, yes. Though some drug offenses that deal with smaller quantities are categorized as misdemeanors, drug trafficking is a felony offense due to the large quantities involved. Felonies tend to trigger longer sentences and higher fines than misdemeanors, particularly in drug trafficking cases, which are subject to aggressive sentencing requirements.
What Are the Penalties for Drug Trafficking in Maryland?
There is a mandatory minimum sentence of at least five years in prison for any person who is convicted of drug trafficking or volume dealing under Section 5-612. The law prevents Maryland judges from reducing the mandatory minimum, stating, “The court may not suspend any part of the mandatory minimum sentence of [five] years.”
Five years is the minimum sentence a convicted offender may face under this statute. The maximum sentence could be much longer – potentially as long as four decades, depending on the nature of the offense. In addition to facing years or decades of incarceration, an offender can also be fined up to $100,000 by the court.
Baltimore Defense Attorney for Drug Charges Under Section 5-612
If you are being criminally investigated or have been arrested for drug trafficking in Baltimore, make sure you contact an attorney before you speak to the police. To set up a free legal consultation regarding drug charges in Baltimore, contact the Law Offices of Randolph Rice online, or call our law offices right away at (410) 694-7291. Whether the charges against you involve marijuana, cocaine, LSD, heroin, prescription painkillers, or other controlled substances, we are here to help you fight back strategically.