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Why are some drug charges harsher than others?

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2024 | Drug Charges

Maryland has strict drug possession laws. If a suspect is found in possession of illicit drugs, then they could face severe fines and jail time. In many cases, the possession of a controlled substance is a misdemeanor punishable by up to four years in jail with $25,000 in fines. The intent to distribute illegal substances may lead to a felony charge. Possession of drug paraphernalia can lead to one to four years in prison with fines ranging from $500 to $25,000. 

Drug charges often vary depending on the amount of illicit drugs a suspect is found with and whether the defendant has a criminal record or intends to distribute the drug. 

One of the biggest factors that play into the harshness of a drug possession charge depends on a drug’s classification. The Controlled Substance Act determines each drug’s medical usage and abuse tendencies under schedules. Here is what you should know about drug schedules: 

What are drug schedules?

There are five kinds of drug schedules. Schedule III, IV and V drugs are often found and bought on store shelves, used in medical facilities or obtained through prescriptions. Schedule V drugs have the lowest tendency to cause abuse and addiction while Schedule III drugs with a higher danger rating. Illegal possession of with the intent to distribute Schedule III, IV or V drugs can lead to five years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines. 

Schedule I and II drugs, such as cocaine, PCP, heroin and peyote have very little medical usage and can lead to addiction, abuse, dependence and withdrawal symptoms. These drugs are often obtained through illegal trafficking and manufacturing. Those who are caught in possession of Schedule I or II drugs with the intent to distribute can face up to 20 years behind bars with fines as great as $25,000. 

It is important for suspects to understand why they are facing drug possession charges and the implications of their crimes if they intend to defend themselves. Those facing criminal charges can seek help to learn more about their legal options.