However, they are also some of the most complex cases to litigate. There are a lot of moving parts to a drug distribution or drug possession case. These cases require significant experience and expertise to handle properly.
While every case is different, here is some basic information applicable to all drug cases:
WHAT IS A DRUG?
This is not a dumb question. The term “drug” is too general and covers a lot of items that are not illegal – like aspirin.
When attorneys talk about drug cases, we are talking about a “controlled dangerous substance” or CDS for short. This means any drug that is controlled and regulated by the government. These illegal substances are listed by the FDA and split into “schedules” which range from most dangerous to least dangerous.
In the rest of this guide, we may refer to CDS, which means a controlled dangerous substance regulated as a dangerous substance by the US Government.
TYPES OF DRUG CASES
Most drug cases can be organized into one of three categories. These categories are:
- Possession– this is exactly what it sounds like – the possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS). These are typically cases where the amount of CDS seized is relatively small, indicating the person wanted it for personal use. These cases are often referred to as “simple” possession. That means the evidence does not support the inference that the Defendant intended to sell or distribute (which is much more serious in the eyes of the law).
- Possession with Intent to Distribute– these are cases where the State does not have concrete evidence of distribution.However, they may have circumstantial evidence of an intent to distribute. This can be due to a large amount seized, the packaging of the CDS seized, or cell phone evidence indicating CDS sales.
- Distribution– this is the most serious type of drug case. These are cases where the State has evidence of an actual distribution of CDS to another person. This could be through surveillance, controlled buys, observed hand-to-hand transactions, or the use of confidential informants.
RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT
This is applicable in all cases, but especially in drug possession and drug distribution cases. Often, the state won’t have the hard evidence without somebody making an incriminating statement.
In many drug cases, the State relies upon incriminating statements to obtain a prosecution. They also use incriminating statements to move a minor possession case into a more serious category.
Don’t do the prosecutor’s job for them!Never make statements without an attorney present.
Everyone knows what marijuana, heroin, and cocaine look like. But what a suspected CDS “looks like” is not enough for a conviction. The State has the burden of proof. They must definitively identify the substance through laboratory analysis.
This part of a drug case is often overlooked by inexperienced attorneys.A thorough review of the labs may uncover defenses to your drug case.
If you don’t demand the lab work (and understand how to read it!) you may never know that the chemist performed the wrong test, failed to follow established protocols, or had inconclusive results. These potential issues can provide grounds for a motion to suppress the most important evidence in the case – the CDS itself!
The possession of marijuana under 10 grams has been decriminalized in Maryland. It is now a civil citation rather than an incarcerable offense.
However, consider this insider tip – despite the decriminalization, most people don’t know that the smell of marijuana is still considered probable causeto search a vehicle. If that search discovers more drugs or different drugs, you could be facing much more serious drug charges.
Perhaps this will change in the future, but for now it is still an important factor in many drug cases.
DRUG TREATMENT IS VITAL
We don’t just care about your court case, we also care about you. While fighting to win your case in court, we also work to put you in the best possible position to succeed.
With over 50 years of experience in Southern Maryland, we are well positioned to provide our clients with recommendations for drug treatment programs throughout Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s County. We know the players in the local programs, and we will work to steer our clients into a state of recovery.
It is always up to you whether or not to take part in a program. However, it will always help your case to do so. We will always advise it for that reason alone.
Often when our clients enter drug treatment programs we are able to negotiate very favorable resolutions – including dismissals, putting your case on the stet docket, or suspended sentences.
All of us at Andrews, Bongar, Gormley & Clagett personally know someone who faced a drug problem. We are sympathetic to the issue, and we want to help get our clients into recovery.
If you want help for a drug problem, we always help you find it – and for no additional fee.
CONCLUSION & NEXT STEPS
None of this is easy. There are general rules, exceptions to the general rules, loopholes to those exceptions, etc., etc.
If you have been charged with drug possession or drug distribution, it is vital to discuss your case thoroughly with an experienced criminal defense attorney.You must explore all your options including any defenses available to you.
Want to know more? Discover what you need to know about criminal law in Maryland. Click here to see our Free Legal Consumer Guide to Maryland criminal law and get answers to your questions today.Know your options. Be informed. Protect yourself.
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