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3 factors that decide a drug charge

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2024 | Drug Charges

Drug possession is a serious crime that can hold severe punishments. These punishments can vary depending on a few factors — including exactly how you are charged.

In Maryland, the maximum sentence for a misdemeanor drug possession charge can go up to four years in prison and $25,000 in fines. If the defendant is charged with a felony, then they may be sentenced to 25 years behind bars and $50,000 in fines. Some defendants may be required to undergo treatment for substance abuse and attend a drug education program. 

People who are facing drug crime charges may need to learn about what facts can affect their case. A few considerations in criminal drug trials include: 

1. What was the classification of the drugs?

Under the Controlled Substance Act, drugs are classified under schedules. These schedules determine whether substances have medical uses. Possession of higher-schedule drugs can lead to harsher penalties in a criminal case.

2. How much of the drug was in your possession?

In addition to the classification of a substance, the quantity of a drug can affect a criminal trial. A higher quantity of an illicit substance can lead to harsher penalties. However, possession of a small amount of a high-schedule drug can also lead to a severe sentence. 

3. Do you have a prior criminal background? 

If you have a history of drug offenses, you may find yourself given very little “benefit of the doubt” when charged with a new offense. That can make it harder to negotiate a favorable plea agreement.

A drug possession charge can be life-changing. Defendants who are charged with drug crimes could face more than just incarceration and fines. A criminal record may affect their ability to find employment, education and housing. The defendant may also face scrutiny if they share custody of children or attempt to purchase a gun. Legal guidance is available to defendants facing drug crimes.