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Can you go to jail for a first-time drug charge?

On Behalf of | Jul 11, 2022 | drug charges

Maryland has strict laws prohibiting drug possession, purchase or distribution. You can face criminal charges for drug crimes, even if it is your first offense or the substance amount is small.

The penalties for first-time offenders vary based on the circumstances of your case.

The drug type affects your sentence

The state of Maryland follows the federal classification of controlled substances. These rules rank drugs by the level of danger and apply penalties accordingly:

  • Schedule I: Are the most dangerous drugs with no medical applications and a high probability of abuse, such as ecstasy, LSD and heroin
  • Schedule II: Drugs like opium, oxycodone and cocaine are addictive with a high possibility for abuse but have medical uses
  • Schedule III: Substances like ketamine, codeine and anabolic steroids have a lower potential for abuse with a moderate likelihood of dependency
  • Schedule IV: Drugs include Xanax, Valium, clonazepam and lorazepam and have a low possibility of abuse
  • Schedule V: Substances have medical uses and contain specific quantities of narcotics, like codeine and diphenoxylate

You can face fines up to $25,000 and up to 20 years in jail for Schedule I and II drug crimes. Charges involving other classifications of drugs can lead to penalties of $15,000 and up to 5 years in prison.

Repeat offenses increase penalties

With the proper defense, a first-time offender charged with possession can avoid jail time with a sentence including probation, monitoring and treatment programs. You must note that you can face up to 18 months of jail time, even with no prior drug convictions. If you have a history of drug crimes, a judge may give you a much longer prison sentence, depending on the details of your charges.

Finding a solution that minimizes your sentence requires extensive knowledge of drug laws in your state.