La Plata & Waldorf Drug Crime Lawyer
At the Law Office of Hammad S. Matin, P.A., our La Plata & Waldorf drug crime lawyers provide a strong, effective defense of criminal charges brought in Charles County, Maryland, including drug crimes such as possession and distribution.
The state prohibits the manufacture, distribution, possession or possession with intent to distribute certain drugs classified as controlled dangerous substances. These substances include common street drugs such as marijuana, crack and powder cocaine, and heroin, as well as painkillers and other prescription drugs, such as Oxycontin, Percocet, and Oxycodone, when they are obtained or administered without a proper prescription.
Penalties and Mandatory Sentences
Penalties for drug offenses can differ widely depending upon the type of drug and quantity involved and the defendant’s criminal history. Punishments can range from a $100 fine for possession of under an ounce of marijuana, to 20 years in prison and fines of $25,000 for possession or distribution of narcotics.
The law also imposes mandatory minimum sentences on repeat offenders. Mandatory minimum sentences can range from two years to ten years, depending upon the crimes and drugs involved. Mandatory minimum sentences cannot be suspended, and you are not eligible for parole during the mandatory period. Whether you are being charged with a first offense or a repeat offense, it is very important to have an attorney who understands mandatory sentences and the implications of being charged or convicted of various crimes.
A Word About Drug Courts
The State of Maryland has dozens of drug courts, including adult and juvenile drug courts, family/dependency drug courts, and DUI/drug courts. If you qualify for drug court, you may be ordered into treatment for substance abuse instead of jail. Even in criminal court, there are alternatives to prison for drug offenders, including treatment and rehabilitation programs, probation and electronic monitoring. If you have been arrested for a drug offense because of a drug addiction or other drug problem, the criminal justice system may be used to get the help you need to turn your life around.
Drug Crimes FAQs
The Law Office of Hammad S. Matin, P.A. provides the following answers to questions frequently encountered in our La Plata criminal defense practice, as we defend people charged with drug crimes such as possession and distribution of controlled dangerous substances in Charles County. If you have other questions, or if you have been arrested on a Maryland drug offense and need advice and legal representation, contact the Law Office of Hammad S. Matin, P.A., for immediate assistance.
Can the police search my car during a traffic stop?
There are several technical exceptions to the general rule requiring a warrant and probable cause in order to conduct a search, and the question becomes even more complicated when a vehicle is involved. If the police order you out of the car or tell you they are going to search your car, you should comply and not try to interfere. If the search was invalid at any point, your attorney can address that matter at a later date. One thing you do not have to do is give the police permission to search your car. If they ask your permission, you have the right to refuse consent and should probably do so.
Can I be charged with distribution if I only had drugs for personal use?
Possession with intent to distribute is obviously a more serious crime than simple possession, although possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) can land you up to four years in prison and a $25,000 fine (penalties for marijuana possession are still serious but are substantially less). The law does not state precisely what quantity of drugs would be considered possession with intent; rather, it is unlawful to possess a CDS “in sufficient quantity reasonably to indicate under all circumstances an intent to distribute or dispense a controlled dangerous substance.”
Besides the quantity involved, other factors may indicate an intent to distribute or not, such as how the drugs were packaged, or the presence of scales or large amounts of cash. If you had drugs for your personal use but are being charged with intent to distribute, your attorney should fight hard to have the charge reduced or present a strong defense as to why the crime of possession with intent was not committed.
If I was arrested in possession of narcotics, should I plead guilty to get the best deal from the prosecutor?
Whether to plead guilty or not guilty is ultimately your decision, but there are several factors you should consider. While you may be guilty of some offense, the prosecutor may be charging a higher offense that you did not technically violate, and pleading guilty to the charged offense will subject you to a punishment you do not deserve. You may also have many defenses available against the charged offense. It is the state’s job to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, and you have a right to go free if the state cannot do its job.
Even if you are going to plead guilty, you should still hire an experienced attorney to negotiate the terms of the plea bargain. The deal offered by the prosecutor can be vastly different depending upon the quality of your defense. With an experienced and competent lawyer, you may be able to avoid any jail time or the imposition of a sentence, depending upon the circumstances.
Contact Our La Plata & Waldorf Drug Crime Lawyers Today
Alternative sentencing programs may be your best option, but they may involve pleading guilty and facing penalties like jail if you cannot complete the program. You should discuss your situation with a La Plata & Waldorf drug crimes lawyer and explore all of your options for deciding on how to handle your case. There are often many defenses available to drug charges, including challenging the legality of stops, searches and seizures that resulted in the arrest. Contact the Law Office of Hammad S. Matin, P.A. for a free consultation regarding your drug arrest or drug charges.