Maryland Drug Sentencing
In Maryland, drug sentences can have a wide range in severity. At the district court, a person can receive a maximum penalty which can be from one to four years in jail. They can also get a plea deal, that results in a lesser punishment. If you have been charged with a drug offense, it is essential that you hire an experienced drug attorney to represent you in court. The consequences and punishments of a drug charge can be very harsh, so having a knowledgeable attorney defending you can help increase the possibility of the charges getting dropped or having your sentences lessened.
Alternative Sentencing for First Time Drug Offenders
Alternative sentencing or diversion programs are not rare when dealing with first time offenders. However, not every county has the dispositions that include alternative sentencing. There is a stet, which is an offer from the state to shut a case down for the person to complete a drug program and evaluation. Upon successful completion, they would generally nolle prosse the case. Those are things that are in the option and discretion of the state.
The state is the sole providers of these. If they choose to do it, it is on them and the person can agree. There are some counties in Maryland that have these programs. Montgomery County has a program where they utilize a treatment as well as a community service-based program. There are others throughout the state of Maryland, but they are becoming less and less used. Eventually, they will all disappear.
Plea Deal Considerations
Pleas deal considerations when determining sentencing for Maryland drug cases are done in a number of styles. If the person is taking up plea or if the person loses in court, the person would lose in front of a court trial or a jury trial (A court trial is just a judge; a jury trial is a jury). If a person takes a plea and there is no agreement between the state and the prosecutor, each party presents the judge with what they believe is the right recommendation. Then the person carries a lot on this ABA (American Bar Association) plea term, which is a plea agreement that gets approved by the court. It is with regards to the approval of a disposition, there is an agreement binding between the parties. If it is a non-ABA plea, it is just an agreement reached by the parties, but not approved or binding.
A plea term is what the person would present to the court through a trial by plea. If the case is in a circuit court, the person is given a sentencing guideline, which looks at the actual offense that was part of the conviction and puts it in a seriousness category, which is usually one through seven.
At that point, they are looking at what offense category the person is in, if it is serious or non-serious, does it include conspiracy and attempt, and more importantly, does the person have priors. If so, what is the person’s prior offense? Then they will look at penalties for that. In circuit court, a person can also ask for a presentencing investigation where a branch of parole and probation reviews the person. They then go into the person’s file and history and if there is anything at all, they would make a recommendation.
Prior offenses are the ones that carry an enormous amount of weight along with what drug and how much. Those are the pieces that are important. If, for some reason, the plea was done in a way that excludes a weapon that may have been found at the scene, it could be weighed in, as well.
Benefits of an Attorney
Maryland drug sentencing can result in a wide range of penalties, so having an experienced drug lawyer representing you is very important. They know the in’s and out’s of the Maryland judicial system, and know how to build strong cases to defend their clients. This can have huge effects on the outcome of the case, and thus the sentences that a judge administers.