What Do Maryland Prosecutors Need to Prove in a PWID Case?
Number one, prosecutors in Maryland drug cases have to prove that they are in fact real drugs, as crazy as that may sound. Anything that’s seized has to be bagged, tagged, and tested. So, if you’re with the state of Maryland, almost all the testing is done by the Maryland State Police. Anything that’s seized from the scene is put in an evidence bag. Those evidence bags are signed for and then taken to be tested. Once in a blue moon, someone will test something and it comes back negative. It may not be a drug at all because that person bought something that they thought was something else. They’re usually quite upset but they’re also quite happy because they just got out of trouble.
That happened many times before Spice, the synthetic marijuana, was illegal. People were busted with marijuana. They tested it and came back with something else. The most common was XLR 11, which is a synthetic marijuana product which was made illegal back in May of 2013 by the federal government. Maryland follows the federal rules but officially, when the governor signed the document, it became officially illegal as of October. So in cases like that, for a good example, someone was arrested and charged with possession of drugs with the intent to distribute. They’ve got all this stuff in there—the bags and the scales—but the drugs in this case were not real. They weren’t real at all. At that point in time, it was still legal. No one had made it illegal yet so the case would be thrown out.
You demand all these things in trial because you want an affirmation. You want someone to come in there and say I took this, I tagged this. They went to the chemist to have them say they tested them. They’re going to fingerprint everything that they find and they bring it to court. They have to introduce every single thing that they found. They have to present it and generally you could be charged with possession with intent to distribute. You’ll be indicted. It will be in the circuit court in front of a jury. You want to be front of the jury. You let them make a decision. Those are 12 people that you play a role in picking. Let them convict you beyond a reasonable doubt. If the state can’t prove their case, they can’t prove their case.
You got to put in a lot of work and possession with intent cases are not quick cases. The first thing I tell my client when we’re talking about a case like this is that these are very long cases.