Methamphetamine is a relatively popular stimulant drug that is notorious for being highly addictive. People who try it even once may find themselves struggling with chemical dependence and at risk of criminal prosecution.
Maryland police officers will arrest anyone that they catch in possession of methamphetamine, particularly if there is reason to suspect that they may have intended to sell or traffic the drugs in their possession. Depending on the relevant details of the situation, the possible penalties for methamphetamine charges could include jail time and sizable fines.
Every case is unique
Criminal judges in Maryland have a significant degree of discretion regarding what actual penalties they hand down during sentencing. Specific factors, such as someone’s prior convictions, may increase the penalties that someone faces. Even first-time methamphetamine charges can lead to significant consequences.
Even the smallest amount of meth, possibly just the residue left behind on packaging or paraphernalia, could be enough to trigger criminal charges. Even a first conviction could lead to large fines and prison time. Those who possess anything more than a very small amount of methamphetamine could well find themselves accused of possession with intent to distribute.
The maximum penalty for the lowest-level methamphetamine possession offense in Maryland is four years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. Someone can face the exact same penalties for the possession of paraphernalia, which can compound the sentence imposed by the court if they plead guilty. If the state can credibly claim that someone possessed meth with the intention to distribute it to others, the charge becomes a felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 20 years.
A strong defense is often possible
People facing drug charges often feel hopeless, but there are multiple strategies that can work for those accused of violating controlled substance laws. Some people prove that police officers violated their rights during a search, which could keep certain evidence out of court. Others might seek adjudication in the drug courts as a way of sidestepping criminal penalties and avoiding a criminal record if they are eligible.
Discussing someone’s criminal record and the details of their arrest with an attorney could help them evaluate the viability of different defense strategies when accused of a methamphetamine-related offense in Maryland.