What to Know About a Charge of Distribution & Intent to Distribute Drugs in Maryland

A charge of distribution and intent to distribute drugs in Maryland is a serious offense, much more so than a charge of possession of the same drug. It is critical to seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney in Rockville as soon as possible after you have been charged in Maryland with distribution or intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance. A conviction carries a number of penalties, from jail to fines to collateral consequences like not being able to retain a good job or rent a home.

If you have been charged with this offense in Rockville or the surrounding metropolitan area, James Peters is ready to help you throughout each step of the process.

Distribution Defined: An Overview of Code of Maryland § 5-602

Distribution of controlled dangerous substances in the state of Maryland is outlawed by Code of Maryland § 5-602. The statute provides that it is illegal to

(1) distribute or dispense a controlled dangerous substance; or

(2) possess a controlled dangerous substance in sufficient quantity reasonable to indicate under all circumstances an intent to distribute or dispense a controlled dangerous substance.

Charges of distribution or intent to distribute generally follow an arrest after possession of a large amount of drugs. Oftentimes, the presence of scales, baggies, and other measuring equipment can be a giveaway to officers that you intend to distribute the substances you possess.

Maryland Penalties for Distribution or Intent to Distribute Drugs according to §§ 5-608 and 5-609

Penalties for a conviction of distribution or intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance in Maryland depends on several factors, including the schedule of the drug and any prior convictions.

Schedule of the Controlled Dangerous Substance

Modeled after federal law, Maryland categorizes controlled dangerous substances into five categories called "schedules." The most dangerous drugs are classified as Schedule I while the least dangerous are classified as Schedule V. Penalties for a conviction of distribution or intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance depend in part on which schedule the drug you possessed falls under.

Distribution or intent to distribute Schedule I and Schedule II narcotics and hallucinogens is a felony offense and carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and/or a fine of up to $15,000. Example drugs include but are not limited to:

  • OxyContin
  • Percocet
  • Fentanyl
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Opium
  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Ecstasy
  • LSD
  • MDMA
  • Mushrooms
  • Peyote
  • PCP.

Distribution or intent to distribute controlled dangerous substances that are not listed in Schedule I or Schedule II is also a felony offense but carries a lighter sentence. A conviction will result in a sentence of up to five years and/or a fine of up to $15,000. Such drugs include but are not limited to:

  • Suboxone
  • Codeine
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Xanax
  • Klonopin
  • Valium.

Subsequent Offenses

How many times you have been charged with a drug offense is also a key factor in determining the possible penalties that you may face if charged with distribution or intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance. While the possible penalties for a first offense of distribution or intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance are listed above, these penalties increase with second or subsequent convictions.

Schedule I or II Controlled Dangerous Substances

  • A second or third conviction of distribution or intent to distribute a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled dangerous substance carries a minimum imprisonment of 10 years and/or a fine of up to $100,000.
  • A fourth conviction carries a possible imprisonment of up to 40 years and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

While punishment for a first offense of distribution or intent to distribute a Schedule I or Schedule II substance depends on the type of substance involved, penalties for second and subsequent convictions do not differentiate between the type of substance.

Other Schedules of Controlled Dangerous Substances

Subsequent convictions of distribution or intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance not listed in Schedule I or Schedule II carry a felony status and a possible prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $15,000.

Large Amounts of Drugs per § 5-612

How much of the drug you had at the time of arrest is also a key factor in determining penalties. In 12 scenarios, you could face up to 20 years but no less than five years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 if you possessed the following Schedule I or II drugs in the corresponding amounts:

(1) 50 pounds or more of marijuana;
(2) 448 grams or more of cocaine;
(3) 448 grams or more of any mixture containing a detectable amount of cocaine;
(4) 448 grams or more of cocaine base, commonly known as “crack;”
(5) 28 grams or more of morphine or opium or any derivative, salt, isomer, or salt of an isomer of morphine or opium;
(6) any mixture containing 28 grams or more of morphine or opium or any derivative, salt, isomer, or salt of an isomer of morphine or opium;
(7) 1,000 dosage units or more of lysergic acid diethylamide;
(8) any mixture containing the equivalent of 1,000 dosage units of lysergic acid diethylamide;
(9) 16 ounces or more of phencyclidine in liquid form;
(10) 448 grams or more of any mixture containing phencyclidine;
(11) 448 grams or more of methamphetamine; or
(12) any mixture containing 448 grams or more of methamphetamine.

Defenses to a Distribution Charge

In some cases, your lawyer may be able to introduce defenses to your charge of distribution or intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance. These defenses can positively impact your sentencing and, in some cases, can even result in a dismissal of the charges.

One of the most common defenses to a charge of distribution or intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance is a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by a police officer. Whether or not the Fourth Amendment has been violated in your case depends on the individual circumstances surrounding your arrest. If you or your property was subjected to a police search without probable cause or an otherwise unlawful search led to the uncovering of the drugs for which you are charged with distributing, your criminal defense attorney may be able to have evidence of the illegal substance suppressed, meaning that it cannot be introduced at trial. Suppression of such evidence can have a profound impact on your case.

Facing a Distribution Charge in Maryland?

If you are facing a charge of distribution or intent to distribute drugs in Maryland, it's important to seek competent representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Don't try to fight a drug charge by yourself; conviction will not only lead to years of imprisonment and hefty fines, but it can make it difficult to obtain housing or apply for a job.

James Peters has established a reputation of competent representation of clients facing criminal drug charges and is dedicated to fighting on your behalf to receive the best possible outcome for you. To schedule a one-on-one consultation to speak with James Peters about your charge, fill out an online consultation form or call (301) 795-8272 today.

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30 Courthouse Square
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Rockville, MD 20850
301-795-8272
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30 Courthouse Square
206

Rockville, MD 20850
301-795-8272
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri: 09:00am - 07:00pm

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