Baldwin & Briscoe P.C.
22335 Exploration Drive Ste. 2030
Lexington Park, MD 20653
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Drug Possession and Distribution

  It is illegal to possess controlled dangerous substances in Maryland.  A controlled dangerous substance is any one of a number of different chemical compounds that have been identified by the state as illegal to possess.  In addition, a controlled dangerous substance includes chemicals that are immediate precursors to those that are identified by the state. 


  It is also illegal to possess controlled paraphernalia.  Controlled paraphernalia are items that are used to contain, distribute or use controlled dangerous substances (CDS).  These can include hypodermic syringes, needles or other objects adapted to administer CDS; a gelatin capsule, glassine envelope, or other container suitable for packing individual quantities of CDS.  It also includes lactose, quinine, mannite, mannitol, dextrose, sucrose, procaine hydrocholoride, or any other substance used as a dilutant or adulterant. 


  Quite often, the ability to successfully defend a drug possession charge will turn on the meaning of the word possess.  For purposes of criminal law enforcement, “to possess” means to exercise actual or constructive dominion or control over a thing by one or more persons. 


  Maryland law classifies CDS according to different schedules based on the danger that they present as well as their medical utility.  Schedule I drugs such as heroin are extremely dangerous and are not approved for medical use.  Schedule II drugs can be extremely dangerous if used improperly but have some medical uses as well.  Schedule II drugs include powerful medicines such as codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone and oxymorphone.  As you move down the chart of schedules, the substances generally become less toxic.  Of course, no controlled substance should ever be taken without a prescription.


  It is a crime to possess a CDS without a valid prescription.  It is also a crime to obtain or attempt to obtain, or to attempt to procure the administration of a CDS where not medically authorized.  This includes obtaining CDS by fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, counterfeiting or altering a written prescription, concealing a material fact, using a false name or address, impersonating a manufacturer, prescriber or authorized distributor, making or presenting a false or counterfeit prescription.


  Unlawful possession of CDS is a misdemeanor in Maryland.  It carries a maximum penalty of four (4) years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000.  Marijuana is still a CDS in the state, however, the criminality is dependent upon the amount that is possessed.  Possession of over 10 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor which carries a maximum of one (1) year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.  Possession of smaller amounts of marijuana is a civil offense which carries a fine but no jail time.  A person who is under the age of twenty-one who is found to be in possession of marijuana must also obtain a substance abuse assessment and may be ordered to obtain treatment by the court.


  It is illegal to distribute or dispense a CDS.  It is also unlawful to possess a CDS in sufficient quantity reasonably to indicate under all circumstances an intent to distribute or dispense a CDS.  The general penalty for possession of CDS with intent to distribute is $15,000 and five years in jail.  It is a felony.  Certain drugs, such as narcotics carry steeper penalties, including longer jail terms and higher fines.


  Probably the most common way to mount a successful defense on a drug charge is to have the drug evidence thrown out prior to trial.  Drug cases can be effectively won or lost before the first witness is sworn or before the attorneys make their opening statements.  In defending drug cases, the attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe will look for opportunities to suppress damaging evidence, either physical evidence or statements that are made by the defendant at the time of the arrest.  Whenever there are appropriate grounds, we’ll file a motion to suppress the evidence with the court.  In a recent case we had a client who was stopped with a large amount of marijuana in his vehicle and did not have a driver’s license.  He was facing five years in jail and a $15,000 fine, not to mention a felony on his permanent record.  Because of our well-argued motion to suppress, the state reduced the charges to sending/reading a text message while driving and dismissed all of the criminal charges.  Our client paid a $70 fine and the case was closed.


  When looking at drug cases, they almost always involve a search.  Police might search a defendant’s home, car, or person and find incriminating evidence.  The police can only use this evidence at trial if they conduct the search properly.  If they conduct the search improperly, the court, if the defendant requests, will suppress the evidence obtained and the prosecutor cannot use it at trial.  Knowing when and how to ask the court to suppress evidence is critical to successfully defending drug cases.


  Generally, an officer can conduct a search under the following circumstances:


  1.       After obtaining a search warrant signed by a judge

  2.       With the consent of the person who owns the property being searched

  3.       Where there is probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime will be found in the area to be searched combined with exigent circumstances that make obtaining a search warrant impossible or impractical

  4.       A limited search of an area within the reach, lunge, or grasp of an arrestee


  In some cases, such as the one identified above, the officer may have the right to conduct a limited search, but the officer extends the search beyond the permissible scope. In those cases, the state will be able to introduce any evidence that is found during the valid portion of the search, while evidence obtained outside of the valid search will be excluded. 


  Under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, individuals have a right to be secure in their homes and in the vehicles.  This includes the right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures.  When the government violates that right, the remedy is that any evidence obtained in violation of the right is excluded from use at trial.  In order to obtain the remedy, however, it must be argued by the defendant or his attorney. 


  If you are facing charges for possession of a controlled-dangerous substance or possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance, it is important to contact an experienced criminal attorney early in your case so that the attorney can investigate and file a motion to suppress evidence.  The attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe have years of experience litigating drug possession and distribution charges.  There is no fee for a consultation on a pending criminal charge.


  The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice.  The experienced attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C. can assist you if you are facing drug charges or any other criminal mater.  We’d be happy to sit down with you and review your situation and provide appropriate advice.  Call today for your free, no-obligation consultation.  All consultations are strictly confidential. 


The Law Offices of Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C. also offers these services:

Bankruptcy and ForeclosureBusiness LawCivil LitigationCriminal DefenseEmployment, Disability, and Consumer RightsFamily LawGovernment Contracts LawIntellectual Property, Personal InjuryReal Estate, Social Security Disability & Workers’ Compensation and Wills, Trusts, & Estates



Contact Us

The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C.

22335 Exploration Drive

Suite 2030

Lexington Park, MD 20653

301-862-4400 Phone

301-862-3009 Fax



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Practice Areas

Bankruptcy & Foreclosure

Business Law

Civil Litigation

Criminal Defense

Government Contracts Law

Family Law

Intellectual Property

Personal Injury

Real Estate

Wills, Trusts, and Estates

Our Attorneys

Samuel C.P. Baldwin, Jr., Esq.

Janice Briscoe, Esq.

Richard J. Steinmetz Jr., Esq.

David J. Hebb, Esq.

Sandra Kaufman Jonasen, Esq.

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With an office conveniently located in Lexington Park, The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Stienmetz, P.C. serves clients in the counties and cities of Lexington Park, Leonardtown, Hollywood, Mechanicsville, Loveville, Helen, Breton Bay, Chaptico, Charlotte Hall, Golden Beach, Avenue, La Plata, Waldorf, Newburg, Port Tobacco, Port Charles, Solomons Island, Prince Frederick, Chesapeake Shores, Hughesville, Benedict, Nanjemoy, Lusby, Port Republic, St. Mary's County, Charles County, Calvert County, Prince George's County, Southern Maryland.

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