The following blog is excerpted from a transcription of an interview with attorney Seth Okin in which he discusses alternative sentences for drug offenses in Maryland.
Seth Okin: It depends on the county, each county is very specific, but some have drug diversion programs and opportunities for people who are first-time offenders. Perhaps you can have your docket moved to the step docket, which deactivates your case. You may have to do some community service and do a drug program or drug class, but and there is an opportunity for you to have the charges expunged from your record if you complete everything. There are other programs that could land you with probation before judgment and there are certain things that you can do, especially with a first-time offense, that protect your record in the future. If you have multiple sentences, it becomes a little bit harder to have the charges expunged. To have something expunged allows your record to be completely clear, but if you have a few things on your record and you’ve just got another charge, your ability to get a favorable disposition is a little more difficult. It is not impossible but it is a little more difficult. I have had success on both sides of that in terms of getting probation before judgment. The client could potentially get a suspended sentence.
Seth Okin: Some jurisdictions have very specific rules, others do not. It depends on where you are and it is very specific to each jurisdiction. Howard County has some diversion programs. Some of them make people take the courses through the county and others have courses that are approved by the court and the bar association. For others you can go wherever you want, or you can visit someone who is registered by the state of Maryland and meets the state’s requirements for these particular courses. Then it is possible to do a diversion program and drug and alcohol education. Sometimes you get charged in one county but you don’t reside there, you actually reside in a different county and you just happened to be driving through when you got into trouble. You can still take the course back in your own jurisdiction.
Seth Okin: Number one, because you may not get that initial offer from the State’s Attorney; it may take having an attorney of your own to put a little pressure on the state to get you into programs. They generally do a background review of an individual before they allow them into any of their diversion programs or drug programs. They do it because if they want to take a chance on you and try rehabilitation, they will. If they think you’ve gotten to a point where rehabilitation is not going to happen because you’re a habitual offender, they’re going to exercise less of their own money and flex the muscle of the courts.
Seth Okin is an aggressive criminal defense attorney who represents clients charged in Maryland. Call his Maryland law office to schedule a free consultation at (410) 782-0742.