The distribution, importation, and sale of drugs are among the most heavily penalized drug offenses in Maryland.
Under Maryland Code Section 5-602, it is illegal for a person, other than an authorized dispenser (i.e., pharmacy), to (1) distribute or sell a controlled substance, or (2) possess a controlled substance in a sufficient quantity to reasonably indicate an intent to distribute the substance.
Under Section 5-603, it is also illegal for a person to manufacture a controlled substance, or manufacture, distribute, or possess devices that are adapted to produce a controlled substance under circumstances that reasonably indicate an intent to sell, produce, or distribute a controlled substance.
In Maryland, Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) are drugs that have been regulated under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and have been divided into five "schedules." These schedules are classified by how hazardous the substance is, whether it is used in accepted medical treatments, the potential for abuse, and the likelihood that it could cause addiction or dependence.
Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substances have a high potential for abuse, are generally considered unsafe, and have no current medically accepted use in treatment. These substances include: heroin; lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD); marijuana (cannabis); peyote (cactus which contains mescaline); methaqualone; and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy).
Schedule II Controlled Dangerous Substances also have a strong potential for abuse, but, unlike Schedule I drugs, they have been used for medical treatment. However, abuse of Schedule II drugs can sometimes lead to a psychological or physical dependence. These substances include: narcotics such as: morphine; opium; hydromorphone (Dilaudid); methadone (Dolophine); meperidine (Demerol); oxycodone (OxyContin); fentanyl (Sublimaze/Duragesic); and stimulants such as: cocaine; phencyclidine (PCP); amobarbital; glutethimide; pentobarbital; amphetamine (Dexedrine/Adderall); methamphetamine (Desoxyn); and methylphenidate (Ritalin).
Schedule III Controlled Dangerous Substances have a lower potential for abuse, have been used in medical treatment, and can lead to a low or moderate physical dependence, but a high psychological dependence. These substances include: benzphetamine (Didrex); phendimetrazine; ketamine; anabolic steroids such as oxandrolone (Oxandrin); codeine or hydrocodone with aspirin (Tylenol 3); and buprenorphine products (Suboxone and Subutex).
Schedule IV Controlled Dangerous Substances have a relatively low potential for abuse, are used in medical treatment, and can lead to a limited physical or psychological dependence. These substances include: propoxyphene (Darvon and Darvocet-N 100); alprazolam (Xanax); clonazepam (Klonopin); clorazepate (Tranxene); diazepam (Valium); lorazepam (Ativan); midazolam (Versed); temazepam (Restoril); and triazolam (Halcion).
Schedule V Controlled Dangerous Substances have a very low potential for abuse, are commonly used for medical treatment, and can lead to very limited physical or psychological dependence. These substances typically include cough medicines that contain no more than 200 milligrams of codeine (Robitussin AC and Phenergan with Codeine).
Under Maryland Code Section 5-608(a), if an individual violates either of the preceding sections (distribution/possession with intent to distribute or manufacturing with intent to distribute)with a Schedule I or Schedule II narcotic, then that individual is guilty of a felony and faces penalties ofup to 20 years in prison and / or a fine of up to $25,000.
Schedule I or II Drugs
Under Section 5-608(b)(1), if an individual violates such sections a second time involving Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substances, that individual is guilty of a felony and faces penalties of10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Under Section 5-608(c)(1), if an individual violates these sections a third time involving one or more Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substances, that individual is guilty of a felony and faces penalties ofa mandatory minimum 25-year prison sentence and fine of up to $100,000.
Under Section 5-608(d)(1), if an individual violates these sections a fourth time involving Schedule I or Schedule II narcotics, that individual is guilty of a felony and faces penalties ofa mandatory minimum 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
In all of these cases, the penalty is the same if the individual is convicted of conspiring to commit these offenses.
Controlled Substances Not Including Schedule I or II Drugs
Under Section 5-607(a), if an individual violates these sections with a controlled substance other than a Schedule I or Schedule II drug (distribution/possession with intent to distribute or manufacturing with intent to distribute)then that individual is guilty of a felony punishable byup to five years in prison and / or a fine of up to $15,000.
Under Section 5-607(b)(1), if an individual commits a second offense (not including Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substances) then that individual is guilty of a felony punishable bytwo to five years in prison and / or a fine of up to $15,000, with amandatory minimum two-year prison sentence.
How the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Portner & Shure Can Help You
If you are convicted of possession with intent to distribute, you may face very harsh penalties. Even first-time drug offenders may face jail time, large fines, and long probation periods. Certain factors such as the kind of drug found in your possession, the quantity of drugs, and your prior criminal record can make potential consequences even more serious. If you were arrested in a school zone, the penalties will be even more severe.
You could be charged with possession with intent to distribute based on the circumstances and other evidence confiscated at the arrest:
- The amount of drugs seized
- The value of the drugs seized
- The presence of large quantities of cash
- Packaging of the drugs
The presence of any of the above-mentioned circumstantial evidence can lead the arresting police officer to believe there was intent to distribute, regardless of your actual intent. If you are charged with any of the crimes listed above, you should consult with a Maryland drug distribution lawyer to learn about your options and how a lawyer can help you build a strong defense.
The Maryland criminal defense attorneys at Portner & Shure can help you fight the charges against you in court. Working with an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney could help to lessen the overall impact of the charges against you. The stakes are too high to take your chances without an experienced criminal defense lawyer. If convicted, these charges can seriously impact your ability to:
- Secure employment, maintain your current position, or advance in your career
- Get approval for a home or car loan
- Maintain eligibility for an academic scholarship
- Obtain acceptance into a university
- Rent a home, apartment, or condo
The lawyers at Portner & Shure will provide you with aggressive representation for your drug trafficking case in order to minimize the impact of these charges on the rest of your life.