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Why might a drug charge have harsher penalties?

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2024 | Firm News

Being caught with illicit drugs can spell disaster. Someone who has drugs on their person or in a vehicle or home or was using, selling or manufacturing illicit drugs could face serious drug possession charges. The penalty for possessing illicit drugs can include fines, incarceration and a criminal record. In Maryland, the possession of drugs can be punishable by up to four years with $25,000 in fines.

However, several factors are considered before a drug possession penalty is inflicted. Depending on these factors, a drug possession charge may be harsher than other penalties. Here’s what you should know:

Drug schedules

Often the first thing that’s considered before a drug possession penalty is made is the severity of a drug. Drugs are classified in schedules depending on the intensity of the drug and its risk of addiction. There are five kinds of drug schedules; drugs with a low risk of abuse are classified as Schedule V drugs while drugs like heroin and PCP are at the highest rating as a Schedule I drug. The amount of the drug is also factored into the penalty. 

First-time drug possession

People who are caught using drugs for the first time may have lighter charges than repeat offenders. Some people are given probation instead of facing harsher penalties.

Possession with the intent to distribute

Many people possess illicit drugs for personal use. However, these people have to have a source. A person who is caught distributing illegal drugs may be charged harsher than someone possessing drugs for recreation. Some drug distributors have faced more than 25 years in prison and over $100,000 in fines.

Drug paraphernalia

People do not necessarily have to possess drugs to face drug possession charges. Drug paraphernalia can vary from $500 in fines to $25,000 and prison time.

If you’re facing a drug possession charge, then reaching out for legal guidance could help as you build a defense.