With what seems like a new legal state every day, folks in Maryland are getting a little bit antsy about the lack of recreational marijuana. Almost all our neighbors get to enjoy it, after all. Why not us? We’re nice people; we deserve nice weed without the added prison. As we collectively get more and more impatient, some of us may dabble in weed tourism (traveling to legal states specifically to enjoy that experience), and some of us may follow less-than-legal routes to imbibe – which we do not advise, by the way.
Here’s the thing, though. It’s easy to get caught up in the laissez-faire culture surrounding marijuana, especially when you visit other states that let you buy it like groceries, but you really need to remember that really, truly and genuinely, weed is NOT legal here yet, and it won’t be for adults 21 and over until summer of 2023.
If you visit another state and drive back home with some “souvenirs,” you run the risk of some serious criminal charges here in Maryland. If you buy marijuana in-state, it is still illegal. If you are facing marijuana charges, regardless of how it happened, the most important thing is getting aggressive representation. Binging Law & Order is not enough — let us help.
Possession and trafficking and DUIs, oh my!
The thing with drug crimes is that they can encompass a whole boatload of situations, substances, and offenses. There’s no quick “weed equals prison” answer, but there are many cases in which you may face prison thanks to something related to marijuana. As is the case with any sort of impairing substance, legal or otherwise, things get much more serious as soon as a vehicle is involved.
If you are found in possession of marijuana while you’re also driving a car, you could face charges for trafficking (if you crossed state lines) which is a felony, possession (obviously) in different levels that may increase things to felony-level offenses, or DUI (if the arresting officer believed you were under the influence at the time).
Let’s talk about drugged DUIs for a moment
. In Maryland, even medical marijuana patients cannot drive stoned. Cops really, really care, and so does the court. While DUIs for drugged driving are usually misdemeanors by themselves, don’t think this is a “nothing” charge: you can still face a combo-package of charges depending on the situation and still face years behind bars. For example, if you had a minor in the car or it’s believed you had intent to sell or distribute, or if it’s not your first offense, you could get to enjoy four years in prison and $4,000 in fines — not to mention the suspension of your license.
If you weren’t stoned when they found the weed, that does not mean you’re getting off easy. Depending on how much you have, what you were planning to do with it, where you got it, and who was in the car with you, you still face an array of offenses with serious consequences. There’s even a Kingpin status for those who are particularly high-volume traffickers in the eyes of the law, and those folks get literal decades in prison on top of a million bucks in fines.
Defenses against marijuana charges in Annapolis
No matter how serious the charges against you are, there are always options available as long as you actually seek them out. There’s no such thing as an “un-winnable case,” only mitigating circumstances that weaken it to death. Usually, many of these circumstances can be, themselves, mitigated or even avoided entirely with the right people working on the case. A good criminal defense attorney starts looking for ways to poke holes in the opposition as soon as you hire them, while also working to strengthen your case and build your defense.
For drug crimes, marijuana DUI-related or otherwise, common defenses attorneys may use on your behalf include:
- Asserting that the arresting officer didn’t have enough — or any — reasonable suspicion to search your vehicle and seize the drugs. If they didn’t have a warrant or proper grounds to search anyways, any evidence they collected would be suppressed or dismissed.
- Working to prove that the drugs didn’t belong to you (will not work if you were arrested while driving a bona-fide hotbox machine with eyes so red they worked as laser pointers).
- Claiming the drugs were planted or you were a victim of entrapment, meaning the arresting officer set you up to get caught — and this does happen, especially when a cop needs to meet a quota.
- The chain of custody of the drugs was broken at some point between your arrest and the trial. Evidence, especially controlled substance evidence, has a very specific set of hands it must fall into in a very specific order to avoid contamination. Proving this procedure was neglected or failed somehow could get the evidence suppressed.
- Saying that the officer didn’t have grounds to stop your vehicle in the first place. They need to have a reason for that, too, besides just wanting another ticket under their belt.
- The amount of the drugs is less than what you have been charged for. If we’re not able to get evidence suppressed, this is usually the next option. Instead of working to get charges dismissed, we work to get them lowered as much as possible.
This is not a comprehensive list, and there can’t really be one, because true legal experience teaches us attorneys how to think on the fly and be creative with how we defend our clients. Depending on the details of your case, your attorney tailors your defense accordingly. Whether this means suppressing evidence, dropping charges, or advocating for a drug treatment program in lieu of jail time, choosing the right defense and pursuing it tirelessly is how your representation earns their keep.
If you’re facing charges for have pot in the car in Maryland, don’t wait until you’re convicted to consider getting help. You need help now. You need the services of Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law. With decades of experience helping people like you in Annapolis and Ellicott City, I know how to protect your rights in ways the other side never sees coming. I’ll answer all your questions and keep you in the loop with the respect and dignity you deserve, no matter what you did or didn’t do. Reach out to me today at 410-271-1892 or use my contact form.
And remember — Keep Calm, and Call Drew!