The opioid epidemic is a sobering crisis that has been plaguing the United States for years. It’s been wreaking havoc in communities and families, and at the center of this drug crime epidemic is a powerful drug known as fentanyl. Fentanyl is incredibly potent; so much so that it’s about 100 times more potent than morphine.
So of course, every law enforcement agency in the country is up in arms about it. You’ve likely seen stories about the alleged cop who touches some fentanyl on someone’s jacket and dies instantly. (Bogus story, BTW – completely made up because apparently, we don’t have enough to terrify us on a day-to-day basis.) The point is, Annapolis law enforcement is cracking down and the charges related to fentanyl are serious. You’re going to want an experienced drug crimes lawyer like me on your side if you get busted for anything related to fentanyl.
Maryland’s controlled dangerous substance laws
The legal framework surrounding controlled dangerous substances, including fentanyl, is strict. To maintain public safety and combat the opioid epidemic, Maryland has established clear guidelines and regulations regarding the possession and distribution of these substances.
Here are the key aspects of their Controlled Dangerous Substance Laws. Maryland law strictly forbids:
- Possessing or using fentanyl without a valid prescription
- Having a prescription for someone else
- Ownership of equipment designed for the production of controlled substances
- The distribution of controlled substances
- Selling or transferring these drugs to others
- Intent to distribute controlled substances
Penalties for fentanyl-related charges
For distributing, intent to distribute, and manufacturing
Maryland’s commitment to combat the fentanyl crisis is evident through its rigorous enforcement of severe consequences for those engaged in its distribution. The severity of the charges for selling or intent to distribute fentanyl is a direct response to fentanyl’s exceptional potency and the significant threat it poses to the Annapolis community.
Those convicted may face the possibility of significant prison time, with sentences of up to 10 years not uncommon. What makes these penalties particularly stringent is the requirement that these 10 years must be served consecutively with any other sentence imposed, intensifying the severity of the consequences. However, these charges can be even greater depending on the amount of fentanyl seized. This means that individuals found guilty of fentanyl-related offenses could potentially spend a substantial amount of time behind bars.
However, it’s important to note that possession of fentanyl stands as the only charge that is not considered a felony. Instead, it’s categorized as a misdemeanor offense. The potential penalties for possession of fentanyl include:
- First conviction: Imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or a fine not exceeding $5,000, or both.
- Second or third conviction: Imprisonment not exceeding 18 months or a fine not exceeding $5,000, or both.
- Fourth or subsequent conviction: Imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding $5,000, or both.
Additionally, individuals facing these charges may also be required to attend a substance abuse program as part of their sentencing, emphasizing the state’s focus on rehabilitation and addressing the root causes of drug-related offenses.
When fentanyl charges become federal crimes
While state laws address fentanyl-related crimes within Maryland, federal jurisdiction comes into play under specific circumstances. For instance, any fentanyl-related crime committed on government property automatically becomes a federal offense, subject to federal laws and penalties. Additionally, trafficking large quantities of fentanyl elevates the offense to a federal level. The distinctions between state and federal charges are vital, as federal penalties can be considerably more severe.
First offense: No less than 5 years and no more than 40 years imprisonment. If death or serious injury results from the trafficking, the sentence increases to not less than 20 years and may extend to life imprisonment. A significant fine also accompanies federal charges, with penalties of up to $5 million for individuals and up to $25 million for non-individual entities.
Second offense: No less than 10 years and up to life imprisonment. For cases involving death or serious injury, life imprisonment is the mandated sentence. Fines escalate to no more than $8 million for individuals and $50 million for non-individual entities.
400 grams or more
- First offense: No less than 10 years and up to life imprisonment. When death or serious injury is associated with the trafficking, the penalty increases to not less than 20 years and may extend to life imprisonment. The fines are notably substantial, reaching up to $10 million for individuals and $50 million for non-individual entities.
- Second offense: No less than 20 years and up to life imprisonment. Life imprisonment becomes mandatory for cases involving death or serious injury. The fines also rise, with penalties of not more than $20 million for individuals and $75 million for non-individual entities.
- Two or more prior offenses: Life imprisonment, accompanied by fines of up to $20 million for individuals and $75 million for non-individual entities.
Fentanyl-related charges are nothing to be taken lightly, and the legal consequences can be significant. At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, our team is committed to advocating for people like you who are facing these serious legal challenges. To schedule a free consultation for your case in Annapolis or Ellicott City, call or fill out our contact form today.
And remember – Keep Calm, and Call Drew.