How Does Maryland Address & Penalize Drug Distribution?
Due to the risk of addiction and overall health danger, the State of Maryland has outlawed the use, possession, and distribution of various illegal drugs. When a person merely uses or possesses a small quantity of illegal drugs, the Maryland penalties are relatively slight. But as explained below, the Maryland laws against and penalties for drug distribution are much more harsh.
Drug Distribution & Possession with Intent to Distribute
Under Maryland Code of Criminal Law Section 5-602, it is unlawful to:
- Distribute, dispense, or otherwise transfer illegal drugs; or
- Possess a large enough amount of illegal drugs that indicates an intent to distribute.
If a person violates Section 5-602 by engaging the behavior described above, they are guilty of a distribution crime and subject to criminal penalties under Maryland law. The precise extent of those penalties changes based on numerous factors, such as the type of illegal drug and number of previous convictions.
Standard Penalties for Distributing Illegal Drugs
Under Maryland Code of Criminal Law Section 5-607, there is a standard penalty for distributing illegal drugs. Specifically, distribution or possession with intent to distribute is a felony crime. Upon conviction, the offender faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and $15,000 in fines.
Penalties for Distributing Schedule I/II Substances
Under Maryland Code of Criminal Law Section 5-608, there is a different penalty structure for distribution crimes involving Schedule I/II narcotic substances. These illegal drugs are the most dangerous and addictive substances, including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
For distribution crimes involving Schedule I/II substances, the Maryland penalties increase based on the number of previous convictions:
- First or Second Conviction — Results in felony charges and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and $15,000 in fines;
- Third Conviction — Results in felony charges and a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and $25,000 in fines; and
- Fourth or Subsequent Conviction — Results in felony charges and a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.
Penalties for Distributing Fentanyl
Under Maryland Code of Criminal Law Section 5-608.1, there is a special punishment structure for distribution crimes involving fentanyl. This section only applies to the distribution of:
- Heroin that contains fentanyl or its substitute; or
- Fentanyl or its substitute.
Any person who violates Section 5-608.1 is guilty of a felony. Upon conviction, the offender faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Furthermore, this sentence runs consecutively, operating in addition to any other legal penalties.
Let Us Help You Today
If you need legal help with drug crimes or other criminal offenses in Maryland, it can be remarkably beneficial to speak with a seasoned Bel Air drug crimes attorney. The attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered in Bel Air, Maryland, have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in criminal and family law, including drug crimes and various other charges. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.