Drug Crimes

Arrested for Drug Possession?

- Lotze Mosley

If you have been accused of drug possession in Maryland or Washington, D.C., it’s not a charge to be taken lightly. Each year, thousands of Americans are arrested and charged with drug possession. More often than not, these charges are related to small amounts of narcotics, found in someone’s car or on their person.

Due to the frequency of drug arrests, these types of cases account for a significant percentage of criminal court dockets in each state. The strict penalties with drug-related offenses also mean it is not at all uncommon for drug defendants to get stuck in an almost routine cycle of charges and sentencing.

However, with the help of skilled legal counsel, it is possible to contest these charges and obtain an outcome that is more favorable.

Drug Possession Charges

There are both state and federal statutes specific to drug possession. Although many drug possession laws vary on a state-by-state basis, nearly all make it a crime to possess narcotics, like methamphetamine, cocaine, “club drugs”, LSD and heroin. Drug possession laws also criminalize possession of certain “precursor” chemicals that are used to cultivate and manufacture narcotics.

As a result, there are a number of factors that help define what constitutes drug possession, such as:

  • The type of drug involved
  • The amount of the drug found in the person’s possession
  • The geographic jurisdiction the alleged offense occurred

It is possible to be accused of drug possession in violation of both state and federal law. And while the restrictions vary from state to state, the core elements of these offenses are typically the same. Regardless, prosecutors must prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the accused individual:

  • Knew the drug they were found possessing was classified as a controlled substance
  • Knowingly possessed or had control over the drug

Charges Related to Constructive Possession

It is also possible to be charged with something known as “constructive possession”, which essentially means that the individual had access to a narcotic, even though it was not on his or per person when the arrest occurred.

For example, these charges may be filed against an individual or group who possess keys to a vehicle filled with illegal drugs, assuming other elements of the crime are present.

How Are Drug Possession Laws Categorized?

Generally, drug possession laws fall into one of two primary categories:

  • Simple possession, or possession for personal use
  • Possession with intent to distribute

Possession with the intent to distribute is the more severe of the two categories, carrying far stiffer penalties should the charge lead to a conviction. Unlike simple possession, the goal with possession with intent to distribute is to penalize and deter drug dealers.

In order to prove the latter of the two, prosecutors need to present evidence that proves the individual intended to distribute. Such evidence might include:

  • Large quantities of the drug
  • Digital scales
  • Baggies
  • Significant cash in smaller bills
  • Testimony from witnesses

Drug possession statutes also strictly prohibit drug paraphernalia, such as crack pipes, bongs, or syringes. Although federal laws dictate what qualifies as paraphernalia, this law typically hangs on whether or not it can be proven that the paraphernalia was used.

For example, purchasing a new (clean) bong or water pipe does not qualify as possession of paraphernalia. However, if those pieces are discovered to contain illicit residue, that may qualify as drug possession.

Charges Related to Possession of Marijuana

Depending on the state you reside in, marijuana may also fall under this category. However, a number of states have passed legalization measures – both medicinal and recreational – in recent years, minimizing or eliminating penalties for possessing “legal” amounts of marijuana.

In Washington, D.C., under Initiative 71 which took effect in 2015, adults over the age of 21 are legally permitted to:

  • Possess up to two ounces of marijuana
  • Transfer up to one ounce of marijuana to another individual who is 21 years old or older, so long as there is no exchange of payment
  • Cultivate up to six marijuana plants – no more than three mature plants – within their residence
  • Possess any marijuana-related drug paraphernalia – i.e., bongs, rolling papers, or cigar wrappers – that is accompanied by one ounce of marijuana or less
  • Utilize marijuana on private property

Although marijuana use in Washington, D.C. has been legalized (to a point), there are still criminal violations attached to marijuana use. A person could still be arrested and charged for:

  • Selling marijuana, in any amount, to another individual
  • Possessing marijuana in excess of two ounces
  • Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana
  • Smoking, drinking or eating marijuana in any public space

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with Drug Possession

If you or someone you love has been charged with drug possession, including possession of marijuana in a state that has legalized marijuana, it is important that you seek the guidance of a qualified defense attorney. Because drug crimes are weighed heavily in many states, it is critical that you have legal counsel who understands the laws in your jurisdiction and can formulate a strong legal defense.

That’s where the highly skilled defense team at Lotze Mosley, LLP comes in. Our firm specializes in a wide variety of defense matters and can work with you to build a strong legal defense that leads to a favorable end result.

To discuss your legal defense with a member of our legal team, contact our office today at (202) 393-0535.

Engaging an Attorney When Accused of a Drug Crime

- Lotze Mosley

Being charged with a drug crime can be detrimental to your career and your relationships – whether you committed the crime or not. If you have been charged with a drug crime, it is important that you engage an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you in defending the charges.

Why Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Criminal defense attorneys are specially trained in criminal law including trial tactics and plea negotiation. A lawyer whose focus is on criminal cases will be able to make strategic decisions on your behalf.

Putting Together a Drug Crime Defense

Oftentimes, defendants are charged with crimes they did not commit. When this happens, the defendant and his or her attorney should work together to craft a defense to the crime with which the defendant has been charged. This applies to any crime – whether it’s theft, fraud, assault, or a drug crime.

A criminal defense attorney will begin by interviewing you about your case. You will be asked questions about what led to the charges you are facing. You may be asked about witnesses to the alleged crime, any alibis you may have, and other information that will help your attorney in determining the best way to defend you in court. In a criminal case, the government must prove that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is any question whatsoever that you committed the crime with which you have been charged, you should not be found guilty.

A drug crime defense prepared by an experienced lawyer will also be helpful in plea deal negotiations. If the government’s case against you is weak, your criminal defense lawyer can leverage that weakness, work towards avoiding a trial, and, where circumstances dictate, obtain a beneficial plea deal, or have the charges against you dropped.

Arrange an Initial Consultation

Being charged with a drug crime is stressful and you may not be sure what to do or to whom you can turn. However, by consulting our criminal defense attorneys at Lotze Mosley in Washington DC, you can be sure that we will be diligent in our efforts for you case to have the very best outcome possible.

For an initial consultation, we welcome your call to our office at (202) 393-0535.

Washington D.C. Citizens Vote to Legalize Marijuana

- Lotze Mosley

Washington D.C. voters voted to legalize marijuana in D.C. about a month ago, and recently, the D.C. Council started preparing to carry out the wishes of the voters.

Initiative 71

Criminal penalties for possession of marijuana were “overturned” by Initiative 71, which removes the criminal and civil penalties regarding adult possession of up to two ounces of marijuana. Additionally, the Initiative would allow an adult to cultivate up to 6 plants. These changes have not yet come into effect as D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration has 6 months to write regulations that would apply to marijuana producers and retailers.

Until the new initiative is formally ratified, the civil and criminal penalties applying to possession of marijuana will apply. As a result, anyone arrested and charged with a drug crime due to the possession or sale of marijuana will still be eligible for criminal and civil penalties.

Consult an Attorney If You Have Been Charged with a Drug Crime

If you, or a loved one, have been charged with a drug crime, such as possessing marijuana, it is important that you secure legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Our drug crimes attorneys at Lotze Mosley have years of experience handling drug crimes in the Maryland and Washington D.C. area. We are able to secure favorable plea deals or jury verdicts for our many clients, and we have a successful track record.

If you need help with your drug crime charge, we urge you to reach out to our staff to set up an initial consultation with one of our lawyers. It can make a huge difference in your future and the future of your loved ones.

For an initial consultation, we welcome your call to our office at (202) 393-0535.