Drug possession crimes in Maryland
Have you been accused of a drug possession crime? Drug possession is a crime that is taken seriously by law enforcement, and the consequences can be severe. Drug possession is illegal on both a federal and state level. This means that it is illegal to possess a predefined controlled substance. You can also be charged with possessing chemicals used to make illegal substances or paraphernalia that is associated with the use of certain illegal drugs.
Please, get in touch with our criminal defense attorney here at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice. Our criminal defense attorneys will strive to get you the rights and protections to which you are entitled under the law. If you’ve been accused of a drug possession crime in Maryland, including Baltimore County, Dundalk, Howard, Anne Arundel, and Rosedale, your attorney G. Randolph Rice, Jr. will protect you from unfair prosecution and unwarranted police treatment.
Elements of Drug Possession
Even though drug possession can be either a federal or state offense, the elements of proving the crime is relatively standard. In general, in order to prove that the defendant is guilty of possessing an illegal substance, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant knew the drug in question was a controlled substance and that the defendant knowingly had possession of the drug.
Proving that the person was in possession of a controlled substance could be satisfied by the officer testifying that at the time of the arrest the substance was on the defendant’s person.
There are many different laws that govern illegal drug possession in Maryland. However, some of the main statutes are:
Md. Ann. Code §5-601
(a) In general. — Except as otherwise provided in this title, a person may not:
- (1) possess or administer to another a controlled dangerous substance, unless obtained directly or by prescription or order from an authorized provider acting in the course of professional practice; or
- (2) obtain or attempt to obtain a controlled dangerous substance, or procure or attempt to procure the administration of a controlled dangerous substance by:
- (i) fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or subterfuge;
- (ii) the counterfeiting or alteration of a prescription or a written order;
- (iii) the concealment of a material fact;
- (iv) the use of a false name or address;
- (v) falsely assuming the title of or representing to be a manufacturer, distributor, or authorized provider; or
- (vi) making, issuing, or presenting a false or counterfeit prescription or written order.
Md. Ann. Code §5-402
(a) In general. — Schedule I consists of each controlled dangerous substance:
(1) listed in this section;
(2) added to Schedule I by the Department under § 5-202(b) of this title; or
(3) designated as a Schedule I controlled dangerous substance by the federal government unless the Department objects under § 5-202(f) of this title.
Md. Ann. Code section 5-601 establishes that it is illegal to have in possession of a controlled substance unless it is prescribed by a doctor. And §5-402 lays out which drugs are listed as a Schedule I controlled dangerous substance. There are too many Schedule I substances to be listed, however, some of the most well-known substances are heroin, marijuana, and peyote.
There are numerous laws criminalizing the possession of controlled dangerous substances. If you have been charged with such a crime, you need an experienced Maryland drug possession lawyer. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we offer free consultations to talk to you about the facts of your case. Call today.
Penalties for Drug Possession in Maryland
Just like statutes in Maryland that criminalize drug possession, there are many laws governing penalties for drug possession. However, under §5-601 the penalty for possessing a controlled dangerous substance is a misdemeanor. This means that for a first conviction the person is facing up to a year in jail and/or a fine not exceeding $5,000. The second and third convictions entail a penalty of not more than 18 months in jail and/or a fine not exceeding $5,000. For the fourth or any subsequent conviction, the penalty for a conviction is jail time not exceeding two years and/or a fine not exceeding $5,000.
If a person is found in possession with the intent to distribute within a school zone the penalty is increased substantially. For a first violation, the penalty is imprisonment not exceeding twenty years and/or a fine not exceeding $20,000.
If you or a person you know have been found in possession of a controlled dangerous substance you need a lawyer. Whether simple possession or possession with intent to distribute the Law Offices of Randolph Rice can assist you in your defense. Do put your future on the line. Having a drug conviction on your record can affect your current and future job prospects. Let us help walk you through the process.
Mitigating the Consequences of a Drug Crime
If you’ve been accused of a drug possession crime, you could be facing a vast list of consequences. However, there are certain mitigating factors that the courts may take into consideration when sentencing a defendant who has been convicted.
For example, §5-601 states that “in a prosecution for the use or possession of marijuana, the defendant may introduce and the court shall take into consideration as a mitigating factor any evidence of medical necessity.” In Maryland possessing marijuana for medical use is an affirmative defense.
Is marijuana still illegal to possess?
Yes, it is still illegal to possess and use marijuana. However, as mentioned, if used for a medical condition, with the proper documentation, you have an affirmative defense. If not used for a medical condition, you can still be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If you have been found in possession of marijuana, call the Law Offices of Randolph Rice to discuss your options.
What does the different schedules of drug crimes mean?
Under the Maryland Criminal Code Title 5, Subtitle 4, the different schedules are defined with the associated drugs. In Maryland there was five schedules for illegal substances. Schedule I drugs are considered drugs that have no accepted medical use.
Meanwhile, there are drugs in subsequent schedules that may be obtained with a prescription from a doctor. Which schedule your drug falls under can affect how severe the charges are.
The schedules maintain hundreds of illegal substances. If you are charged with a drug possession, it is best to consult a Maryland drug possession lawyer who is knowledgeable about he schedules. Call the Law Offices of Randolph Rice to talk today.
Does the amount of drugs make a difference in the charges?
The simple answer is yes. Drug possession laws differentiate between possession with intent to use and possession with intent to distribute. Thus, the more drugs that you are found in possession with, the more likely you could be charged with intent to distribute.
Such a charge carries stricter penalties when convicted. However, proving such a charge may mean introducing as evidence scales, baggies and large quantities of drugs.
Does it matter where the drugs were found?
Yes, this can make a huge difference. When dealing with drug possession cases there are two types of possession; actual and constructive. Actual possession just means that the drugs were found on the person.
Constructive possession means that the person did not have actual physical possession of the drugs. This can mean that the drugs were found in the persons car.
It can also mean that the drugs were not actually the person’s in question, but rather they were just in control of it at the time it was found. If the drugs were found in constructive possession, that means there could be more than one defendant. If you are being charged with drug possession, but the drugs were not on your person you may have a stronger defense to your charge.
What is drug paraphernalia?
Under Md. Code Ann. §5-619 drug paraphernalia is determined by looking at a number of factors including the proximity of the object to the controlled dangerous substance, evidence of intent of an owner to deliver it to a person who he should reasonably know intends to use the object in connection with a controlled dangerous substance, any instructions provided with the object, and the manner in which the object is displayed for sale. If convicted for possession of drug paraphernalia the penalty is a misdemeanor.
Our Baltimore Drug Possession Defense Lawyers Can Help
As your criminal defense attorney, Randolph Rice, aims to reduce your charges, sentencing consequences, or even have a drug possession case thrown out altogether. Your drug possession attorney has your best interests in mind. Rice Law will ensure that you are informed of court dates and that all proper paperwork is filed. We’ll act quickly to earn you better odds at facing reduced or dropped charges.