Maryland Criminal Law: What Increases the Severity of Drug Crimes in Maryland?

Drug laws in Maryland include several factors that may increase the severity of both the crime and the punishment.  

Type of Drug: 

The type of drug can affect the punishment for a drug crime.  Maryland Criminal Law § 5-401 – 406 outlines various groups of controlled dangerous substances.  Controlled substances are simply drugs or chemical compounds whose use and possession is controlled by law.  Misdemeanor possession of most controlled dangerous substances carries a base penalty of up to four years of incarceration and up to $25,000 in fines. Misdemeanor Marijuana possession (in an amount greater than 10 grams) carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and $1000 in fines.

Amount of Drug:

The quantity of a drug a person possesses can also affect the severity of punishment.  According to Criminal Law § 5-601 it is illegal to possess any amount of a controlled substance unless it was prescribed by a doctor.  However, possessing, manufacturing, or cultivating large amounts of an illegal drug can up the ante for punishment.  

Large amounts of an illegal drug may indicate intent to distribute or traffic the drug.  Under Maryland code § 5-602, a person would be guilty of possession with intent to distribute if they possess a sufficient quantity of a controlled dangerous substance under such circumstances as would cause one to reasonably conclude that there is an intent to dispense or distribute said substance. Indicators which are typically pointed to by prosecuting authorities are things like: scales, packaging materials, cutting agents, large amounts of cash, and records of sales.   

Youth Involvement:

In general, any drug crime that involves minors can warrant additional charges.  Even if the crime did not involve minors but was committed in proximity to a school campus additional penalties may be levied against the offender.

Standing accused of a drug crime in Maryland should not be taken lightly. A drug crime conviction can result in serious consequences and leave a black mark on a criminal record.  Defendants can face years or even decades in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.  

For more information about drug crimes in Maryland, please contact Andrew Alperstein, Chris Wheatcroft, Warren Alperstein, Robert Wolf or Arthur Alperstein at Alperstein & Diener.