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Penalties are harsh for drug charges

Controlled substances must be treated very carefully. The laws in Maryland don't leave any room for having them in your possession or acting with them illegally without facing very strict penalties. The state uses a schedule system that takes the propensity for abuse and the acceptable medical usage into account. This is based largely on the federal schedule for controlled substances.

Schedule I and II substances come with the harshest penalties. Here are some of the penalties to know:

  • Schedule I and II penalties:
    • First offense: Narcotics -- up to 20 years in prison, fine of up to $25,000; Hallucinogenic -- up to 20 years in prison, fine of up to $20,000
    • Second offense: At least 10 years in prison, up to $100,000 fine
    • Third offense: At least 25 years in prison, up to $100,000 fine
    • Fourth offense: At least 40 years in prison, up to $100,000 fine
  • Schedule III, IV, and V penalties:
    • First offense: Up to five years in prison, up to $15,000 fine
    • Subsequent offenses: Minimum of two years and up to five years in prison, up to $15,000 fine

There is an exception in the law for marijuana. Although this is considered a controlled substance, it is treated a bit differently. Possession charges bring up to one year in jail under a misdemeanor offense. Certain other drugs also have a different minimum from other controlled substances if a person is convicted of only possession. Methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, LSD and prescription drugs have a four-year maximum sentence for possession only.

It is imperative that you think about these as you work on your defense strategy. Consider every available option as you work through these.

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