Local and statewide law enforcement take drug crimes seriously. As a result, the possible consequences for possessing even a small amount of illegal drugs can be severe. Even more concerning are allegations you distributed these substances into the community or participated in drug trafficking activity. When you face charges related to the possession, trafficking, or sale of an illegal substance, you could be frightened and confused.
An Upper Marlboro drug lawyer could help you better understand the charges and prepare a detailed and thorough defense tailored to your circumstances. This can include working towards a plea deal that avoids jail time or fighting back against every part of the charge at trial. A criminal defense attorney is prepared to protect your rights and freedoms every step of the way to pursue the best possible outcome.
Most criminal drug cases allege a person has illegally possessed a substance. These substances can be street drugs, like heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine. However, it is also illegal to have prescription medications in one’s possession without a doctor’s note.
According to Maryland Criminal Law § 5-601, the illegal possession of controlled substances is usually a criminal matter. A first conviction of possession of illegal drugs is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Thankfully, state law has provisions decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of Marijuana. If law enforcement discovers less than ten ounces of this substance in a person’s possession, the case is a civil offense that can only result in the payment of a fine. An Upper Marlboro attorney could provide more information about the state’s drug possession laws.
Types of Possession
To prove possession, the State must show a person was either in actual or constructive possession. Actual control is when the drugs were found on or around the person. A common situation is when police find drugs in pockets after a search. Even though it might be clear a person was in possession of any drugs found, there could be arguments made to suppress the search or the drugs recovered.
Constructive possession is more difficult for the State to prove. Constructive possession is when law enforcement finds drugs in a common area, and multiple people could be in the vicinity. The State must prove the people charged had knowledge of the drugs and were in a position to exert control over the drugs. The State will have a difficult time proving who had knowledge and control over the drugs. It is always the State’s burden to prove each element of the crime.
Distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) carries more severe penalties than possession. Distribution ranges from a hand-to-hand drug deal to selling drugs by the kilogram. In some cases, the State can use circumstantial evidence to charge a person with a distribution charge. For example, if a person has ten kilos of heroin packaged individually and a scale, the State can charge them with distribution because of quantity.
The penalties for a drug distribution or trafficking case are always severe. MD Crim. Law § 5-608 states a conviction for the distribution or attempted distribution of many drugs is a felony. In the most extreme examples, a court may sentence a person to a prison term as long as 20 years, the payment of a fine of as much as $15,000, or both. A drug lawyer is ready to present a powerful defense against allegations a person in Upper Marlboro has distributed illegal drugs to others.
Can the Police Search My Car for Drugs?
In most cases, police need a warrant to search a vehicle. The police cannot stop a vehicle and search the car without an exception to this warrant requirement. There are several exceptions that apply that could allow an officer to search your vehicle. A drug attorney in Upper Marlboro can examine if a stop and search was legal. These are the most common exceptions:
- Consent to search
- Smell of drugs
- Officer sees illegal contraband
Consent to Search
People do not have to give police permission to search their vehicle. Refusing to give police permission to search a vehicle does not give them a reason to search it. It is someone’s constitutional right to say no to a vehicle search. When a person gives police the right to search their car, officers can confiscate and use any illegal contraband against them.
Officer Sees Illegal Contraband
If the officer sees illegal contraband, the officer has probable cause to search the vehicle. If this occurs, the officer will ask a person to step out of the vehicle and might briefly detain them. The officers will charge them with any illegal items seized in the vehicle even if they deny the drugs belong to them.
Reach Out to an Upper Marlboro Drug Attorney Now
Whether you are facing charges involving the illegal possession of a small amount of marijuana or trafficking heroin, an Upper Marlboro drug lawyer may be able to help. All drug cases are serious matters, and an attorney strives to put forward the best possible defense for you. This could include representing your interests during all court sessions, questioning the admissibility of evidence, and cross-examining witnesses at trial to raise concerns about their truthfulness before juries. Contact us today for a free legal consultation.