Bowie and Crofton Drug Charges Attorneys
Representing clients facing drug charges throughout the state
It can be frightening and confusing to be facing drug charges. You might be filled with panic about how your legal challenge is going to have an impact on your future. Depending on the nature of the crime and the circumstances, you could be facing significant penalties which will affect your freedom, your work, and almost all other aspects of your life.
If you are facing drug charges, it is critical that you contact an experienced drug crime defense attorney at Carey Law Office immediately, and schedule a consultation in Bowie or Crofton to discuss your case with our legal team. We are thoroughly familiar with the challenges you face. We will get through this together.
A look at drug arrests and incarceration
According to Maryland’s Uniform Crime Report for 2016, there were 33,093 arrests for drug offenses, which represents a three percent increase over the previous year. In individual categories, the highest percentage of drug arrests involved:
- Marijuana (61%)
- Opium or cocaine derivatives (28%)
- Possession (78%)
- Sale or manufacturing (22%)
While the number of drug arrests may be higher than in the previous year, the prison incarceration rate in Maryland has fallen by about 29% over the past decade. This reduction in incarceration is being attributed to the Justice Reinvestment Act of 2016, which diverted non-violent offenders from prison into drug treatment and other programs, and included changes to mandatory minimum drug penalties, according to a story in the Baltimore Sun.
Drug charges in Maryland
Bear in mind that just because you have been charged with a drug crime it does not mean that you will be convicted of a drug crime. There are three general categories for Maryland drug charges including:
- Drug possession. A drug possession charge means that the police found drugs on your person, in your car, in your home, or somewhere in close proximity to you.
- Drug possession with intent to distribute. This charge speaks to the quantity of drugs found in your possession. You might have a small amount for your personal use, but if you are in possession of a larger quantity, law enforcement then assumes that you are selling it.
- Drug trafficking. This charge applies when you are found in possession of a significantly large quantity of the drug.
Drug crimes in Maryland are classified as misdemeanors or felonies. A misdemeanor is typically punishable by a year in jail, fines, and additional penalties, and felonies are punishable by much longer sentences. The length of the sentence would depend on the type of drug, how much of the drug you had in your possession, and the specific criminal charge. Additional penalties include community service, and mandatory drug treatment.
Possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana
In Maryland, the possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana has been decriminalized. It is still illegal to possess the drug, but the penalty is now a civil offense, not a criminal one. The fine is $100 for a first-time offense, but it will not result in arrest, jail time, or a criminal record. The amount of the fine increases with the second and subsequent offenses.
What is supposed to happen during the arrest process?
If you have already been charged with a drug crime, then you have already gone through the arrest process, but here is a brief overview of what happens:
First, being arrested can be a frightening experience. You are taken against your will, placed in handcuffs, processed, and put in a jail cell with other strangers who have also been arrested. Despite how unfair it all seems, and how powerless you might feel, you actually have rights under the U.S. Constitution, and law enforcement is required to treat you and behave in ways that comply with your rights. Your most important rights during this process is your Fifth Amendment right to not be forced to incriminate yourself, and your Sixth Amendment right to counsel.
Every state has its own way of handling Miranda warnings. What you see on TV crime shows is not entirely accurate, but the gist is the same:
- You have the right to remain silent
- What you say can be used against you, and you must be informed that this is the case
- You have the right to an attorney
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to your case
You are always free to waive your Miranda rights and answer questions, but you also have the option to stop answering questions at any time and ask for a lawyer. (National Constitution Center)
After your arrest you will face a pretrial hearing where bail will either be decided or revoked. Your case will then go to the state’s attorney’s office for prosecution and a trial date will be set. If no plea agreement is negotiated, or if you do not plead guilty, there will be a trial where you will either be found guilty or not guilty. You could then receive a sentence or be given probation before judgement (PBJ) if this is your first offense and if you meet the other qualifications. If you receive a jail or prison sentence, you will be remanded to the custody of the Department of Corrections. If you received PBJ, you will serve your probation and your record will be cleared if you have met the requirements of your probation. If you do negotiate a plea agreement, you would either serve probation or your sentence if the plea agreement included pleading guilty.
Federal drug charges
If you have been charged with a drug crime, you might also be facing federal drug charges. The crime you have been accused of having committed may have violated both state and federal law. If you are also facing federal charges, you may be prosecuted on state charges and then on federal charges in separate proceedings.
Federal drug charges carry much harsher sentences than state charges. There are mandatory minimum sentences, and possible life sentences. There are several ways in which your drug charges can become a federal crime including:
- You were arrested by a federal officer
- The crime occurred on federal property
- A federal informant turned you in
- The crime involved crossing state lines or international borders
Federal drug charges are governed by the federal sentencing guidelines, and probation is rarely available as an option thanks to mandatory minimum sentencing.
How can a criminal defense lawyer help when I am facing drug crime charges?
At Carey Law Office, we offer aggressive representation for clients facing drug charges. We are here to protect your rights throughout the legal proceedings. Not only are the Bowie drug charges lawyers at our firm proactive in planning a strong defense on your behalf, but we are also adept at finding the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and working them to your advantage. Whether you are charged with drug possession, drug trafficking or manufacturing, conspiracy or other drug charges, we will represent you in state and federal court and fight for your freedom.
When you schedule a consultation at Carey Law Office, you will receive a candid assessment of your case, and we will let you know precisely what we can do for you. Call today so that we can get started on your defense.
Schedule a consultation with a Bowie and Crofton drug defense lawyer today
If you are facing drug charges, Carey Law Office is here to help you. With locations in Bowie and Crofton, we proudly serve clients in Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County, and the surrounding areas. You are welcome to call 301-464-2500 or fill out the contact form to schedule a consultation now.