Contraband

ContrabandIn the past year there have been a number of embarrassing scandals involving contraband at the jails and prisons around the state.  The Baltimore City Detention Center made national headlines for a pervasive cell phone and drug smuggling ring that involved corrections officers and inmates.  Many other jails have had issues with the presence of phones, weapons, and drugs to the point that many state lawmakers have vowed to enact stricter contraband laws.  The current contraband laws prohibit anyone from delivering an illegal object to person detained or confined in a place of confinement.  The law also prohibits possessing contraband with the intent to deliver it to an inmate or anyone who is detained in a jail, prison, juvenile detention center, etc.  This offense could be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the object that was alleged to have been smuggled.  The law usually applies to jail visitors and employees who have agreed to supply and inmate with a prohibited item, but inmates can be charged as well for supplying drugs, phones, or weapons to other inmates.  Inmates could also be charged with simply possessing these items, but many times this offense is simply handled within the facility.

We have also seen many cases where a person is arrested but not thoroughly searched by the arresting police officer.  Then when the defendant is strip searched in jail small items, usually drugs are found on his or her person.  The law requires that this offense be committed knowingly, but cops will rarely believe a new inmate who says he or she didn’t realize they still had drugs hidden someplace.  The Herbst Firm has extensive experience handling this type of crime, and we more than willing to take on the state and the police in court.  Maryland law requires the state to prove a defendant knowingly and intentionally attempted to bring contraband into a facility, and this knowing element can be challenged by a criminal lawyer.  If you or someone you know has been charged with a contraband offense we are standing by to offer a free consultation, and are ready to fight.

The most serious of the contraband offenses involves smuggling a weapon into a jail or other detention facility.  This crime is a felony and upon conviction can result in a maximum 10-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine.  The penalty is the same if the smuggled item is something that is used to effectuate and escape.  Such items include handcuff keys, lock picking devices, and even rope.  Contraband charges involving drugs and alcohol are far more common, and both are misdemeanors with a maximum jail sentence of 3 years upon conviction.  The amount of the item alleged to have been smuggled is irrelevant.  In other words if a person were to bring a single joint, or even a tiny bottle of alcohol into a corrections facility, he or she could face 3 years in jail.  Cell phones fall under the general contraband statute, which has the same penalties as the CDS and alcohol version, but the legislature has expressed a desire to make this crime a felony with a harsh 10-year sentence.
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