Drug Crime Lawyers in Virginia, Maryland & Washington, D.C.
Defense Against Harsh Criminal Penalties
Drug convictions can have some of the harshest penalties across the nation. This is especially true in Maryland, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C. areas, where they have some of the most severe penalties, even for first-time offenders. That is why it is important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side to help you reduce your sentence if possible. At Portner & Shure, we have decades of experience helping clients who face drug charges because we believe that everyone has a right to justice.
If you've been arrested for a drug crime in the Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, D.C. areas, contact our experienced lawyers online or by calling (855) 954-4141 for your free consultation.
Penalties for a Drug Conviction in Maryland
Maryland has some of the strictest penalties for anyone convicted of a drug offense. Although Maryland has decriminalized the possession of fewer than 10 grams of marijuana recently, it is still extremely important to hire an attorney if charged with a marijuana distribution or other drug possession offense. An attorney can assist a criminal defendant in being accepted into one of Maryland’s many “drug courts” and potentially avoid jail time or other harsh consequences.
Maryland Possessing or Administering Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) (Section 5-601)
A person may not:
- 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
- Obtain or attempt to obtain a controlled dangerous substance, or procure or attempt to procure the administration of a controlled dangerous substance by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, counterfeiting, alteration of a prescription, concealment of material fact, or use of false name or address.
Within the last few years, Maryland legislators have decriminalized the possession of fewer than 10 grams of marijuana for personal use.
With the changes in the law, possession of fewer than 10 grams of marijuana is only a civil offense and does not result in a criminal conviction. In other words, if police issue you a citation for possession under 10 grams, you will have the option to pay the fine or request a hearing.
However, if you are under 21 and you receive a citation for possession of fewer than 10 grams, you will be required to appear in court and the judge will likely require that you complete a drug education or diversion program. If you have previously been cited two other times for possession of marijuana under 10 grams, you will be summoned for trial and will not have the option to just pay a fine.
Fines for citation of possession of fewer than 10 grams of marijuana include:
- First offense fine is $100
- Second offense fine is $250
- Third offense fine is $500
Maryland Manufacture, Distribute, Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance (Section 5-602)
One of the most common drug offenses in Maryland if manufacturing, distributing, or having the intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance (CDS). Under this law, a person may not distribute or dispense a controlled dangerous substance or possess a controlled dangerous substance in sufficient quantity reasonably to indicate under all circumstances an intent to distribute or dispense a controlled dangerous substance.
Maryland Drug Penalties
Controlled dangerous substances are divided into three different schedules, and depending on which type of drug you are possessing when charged will determine the penalty.
- If you are found guilty of possession of a Schedule I or II narcotic drug, it is a felony conviction that is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 20 years or up to a $25,000 fine, or both.
- If you are found guilty of distribution of a Schedule I or II narcotic drug for the second time, it is a felony conviction that is subject to imprisonment of at least 10 years or up to a $100,000 fine, or both.
- If you are found guilty of distribution of a Schedule I or II narcotic drug for the third time, it is a felony conviction that is subject to imprisonment at least 25 years or up to a $100,000 fine, or both.
- If you are found guilty of distribution of a Schedule I or II narcotic drug for the fourth time, it is a felony conviction that is subject to imprisonment at least 40 years or up to a $100,000 fine, or both.
Mandatory minimum jail sentences may be departed from under MD Crim. Section 5-609.1 “if the court finds and states on the record that, giving due regard to the nature of the crime, the history and character of the defendant, and the defendant’s chances of successful rehabilitation: (1) imposition of the mandatory minimum sentence would result in substantial injustice to the defendant; and (2) the mandatory minimum sentence is not necessary for the protection of the public.”
Common Schedule I Drugs
- Marijuana (10 grams or more)
Common Schedule II Drugs
Common Schedule III Drugs
Maryland Bail Review Hearings
If you are arrested for a crime in Maryland, you are entitled to go before a judge within 24 hours of your arrest. Once you are brought before a judge for the first time, you have a right to have an attorney present. At this first appearance, the judge will make a determination as to whether you will be held on bail or without bail, or will be released on your own recognizance until your trial date.
This determination is made depending on if you were arrested with or without probable cause or based on a warrant executed by police. At this point, the judge must disclose the charges the defendant is facing and the maximum penalties associated with those charges, as well as provide the defendant with a copy of the charging documents.
In making the bail determination in a case, the judge considers many factors, especially the potential threat to public safety if the judge releases the defendant up until or sets a small bail. Defendants that are charged with violent felonies or are facing the potential for life in prison are not likely to receive pretrial release.
If a judge denies bail or sets a very egregious amount for bail, your attorney can appeal the decision.
Maryland Drug Paraphernalia
Another very common drug-related charge involves paraphernalia that is used or related to use with the controlled dangerous substance. The way the law is written, just about anything can be considered drug paraphernalia, thereby making it very difficult to defend against this charge. However, the experienced Maryland criminal defense attorneys at Portner & Shure have over 20 years of experience in defending those charged with drug paraphernalia related crimes.
As the law states: A person may not use or possess with intent to use drug paraphernalia to cultivate, grow, manufacture, produce, pack, store, contain, or conceal a controlled dangerous substance; or inject, ingest, inhale a controlled dangerous substance.
Violators that are found guilty of drug paraphernalia will be convicted of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine not exceeding $500. Subsequent violations will result in up to two years imprisonment or up to a $2,000 fine, or both.
Virginia Drug Crimes
Drug offenses in Virginia are taken very seriously and the legislation shows that. It is extremely important to hire an attorney if charged with any drug offense. There are several advantages that an attorney can bring to your case that would not be possible if one handled the case on their own.
Virginia Manufacturing, Selling, Giving, Distributing, or Possessing with Intent to Manufacture, Sell, Give, or Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) (Section 18.2-248)
It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, sell, give, distribute, or possess with intent to manufacture, sell, give, or distribute a controlled dangerous substance.
Anyone who violates this law for a CDS classified in Schedule I or II can be convicted of a felony and can be imprisoned for at least five years and at most 40 years, and fined up to $500,000.
Virginia, unlike Maryland, has not decriminalized marijuana, and anyone found to possess, sell, or distribute marijuana will face criminal charges.
Any person that sells, gives, distributes, or possesses with intent to sell, give, or distribute marijuana can be charged with the following, depending on the amount:
- No more than one-half ounce is a Class 1 misdemeanor
- More than one-half ounce but no more than five pounds is a Class 5 felony
- More than five pounds is a felony punishable by imprisonment of at least five years and no more than 30 years
Any person who manufactures or possesses marijuana with intent to manufacture the substance, not for his own use results in a felony punishable by imprisonment of at least five years and no more than 30 years, and a fine up to $10,000.
Common Schedule I Drugs
Common Schedule II Drugs
Common Schedule III Drugs
Virginia Drug Paraphernalia
Drug paraphernalia charges are often linked to drug possession charges. The way the law is written, just about anything can be considered drug paraphernalia, thereby making it very difficult to defend against this charge. However, the experienced Virginia criminal defense attorneys at Portner & Shure have over 20 years of experience in defending those charged with drug paraphernalia related crimes.
Any person who sells or possesses with intent to sell drug paraphernalia, knowing or reasonably should know, that it is designed for use to illegally plant, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, convert, produce, process, prepare, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, or inhale shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Any person 18 years of age or older who sells drug paraphernalia to a minor at least three years junior shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.
Virginia classifies criminal offenses based on two categories: Felonies and misdemeanors. There are six different classes of felonies, which play a role in determining punishment and sentencing. They are as follows:
- Class 1 Felony: Death or life imprisonment, and a fine up to $100,000
- Class 2 Felony: Life imprisonment or imprisonment for at least 20 years, and a fine up to $100,000
- Class 3 Felony: Imprisonment for at least five years and not more than 20 years, and a fine up to $100,000
- Class 4 Felony: Imprisonment for at least two years and not more than 10 years, and a fine up to $100,000
- Class 5 Felony: Imprisonment for at least one year and not more than 10 years, and a fine up to $2,500. The judge and jury have the discretion to reduce the sentence to less than one year
- Class 6 Felonies: Imprisonment of at least one year and not more than five years, and a fine up to $2,500. The judge and jury have the discretion to reduce the sentence to less than one year
There are four classes of misdemeanors, which play a role in determining punishment and sentencing. They are as follows:
- Class 1 Misdemeanor: Imprisonment up to one year and a fine up to $2,500
- Class 2 Misdemeanor: Imprisonment up to six months and a fine up to $1,000
- Class 3 Misdemeanor: A fine up to $500
- Class 4 Misdemeanor: A fine up to $250
Contact an Experienced Washington, D.C., Maryland & Virginia Drug Crime Lawyer
At Portner & Shure, we believe everyone has the right to justice and the representation necessary to achieve that. With decades of experience, our professional legal team has the knowledge and skills in criminal defense to help you during these trying times.
If you've been arrested for a drug crime in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, or Virginia areas, contact the experienced lawyers at Portner & Shure today at (855) 954-4141 for your free consultation.
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