Under these two sections of the Maryland controlled dangerous substance or CDS laws it is illegal not only to distribute, but also to possess a controlled substance in a sufficient quantity that indicates an intent deal the drugs. Police and prosecuting lawyers are not bound to a specific quantity of controlled substances in order to charge and prosecute this drug trafficking crime. Police and prosecutors will look at all circumstances surrounding the arrest to determine whether these circumstances reasonably indicate an intent to dispense or distribute the drugs. These circumstances include how the drugs were packaged, the presence of items such as digital scales and plastic baggies, and the presence of large quantities of cash. If the arrest was executed as part of an undercover buy bust operation, or if the police officer actually observed a hand to hand transaction they will naturally arrest the defendant for distribution, but an experienced criminal lawyer may be able to file certain motions and incorporate defenses to have a distribution charge dismissed or dropped to a simple possession charge. Maryland law 5-612, also known as the volume dealer statute, provides harsh punishments for those found in possession of large amounts of CDS. Under the currently law these enhanced penalties come into play when police find 50 pounds or more of marijuana, 448 grams of cocaine and 28 grams of heroin. Maryland has also enacted tough laws regarding possession of a large amount of fentanyl. Currently anyone found in possession of 5 grams or more of fentanyl could be charged with possession of a large amount as well as possession with intent to distribute. Possession of a large amount carries a mandatory 5-year prison sentence and a potential $100,000 fine upon conviction. The crime lab often tests a small amount of the drug recovered, and with highly potent narcotics such as fentanyl, the lab rarely removes the packaging before weighing it. Therefore, many defendants are charged with possession of a large amount due to the gross weight (including packaging) exceeding the statutory limits. The law does not specifically allow the state to include the weight of the packaging, and as a result an experienced lawyer may be able to challenge the actual net weight of the drugs seized, and have the charges dismissed.
The other controlled substance crime that is classified as drug trafficking under state law is section 5-614 of the state criminal code. This section makes it a crime to import certain controlled dangerous substances. For the purposes of this law, importation of controlled substances is defined as bringing a substance into the State without authorization. The state must prove specific minimum amounts to the drug at issue to prove importation of a controlled dangerous substance. The specific amounts that are listed in the statute include 28 grams for cocaine or any mixture of cocaine. Keep in mind that the state does not have to produce 28 grams of pure cocaine to charge importation, as the cutting agents are counted in the total weight. Other listed amounts include 4 grams of morphine, and 1,000 doses of LSD or acid. If the state lacks sufficient evidence to prove the minimum required amount it may still charge a person with distribution under the other two drug trafficking sections. Importation of a controlled dangerous substance is a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. These maximum penalties are slightly higher than the other two drug trafficking violations. If you would like a free consultation for your drug trafficking case contact the firm at 410-207-2598.