https://www.mdattorney.com/lawyer-attorney-1300820.htmlExperienced Maryland Criminal Attorney’s probably handle more simple drug possession cases than just about any other kind of case in the system. On any given District Court Docket in any jurisdiction in Maryland, a large percentage of the cases will be simple possession cases. Although the majority of these cases so not result in incarceration of the defendant they nonetheless need to be taken seriously as a conviction for possession can result in a permanent criminal record even for first time offenders. Second or subsequent offenders are all but certain to end up with a permanent criminal record and possible jail time, as Maryland Law only allows a person to receive probation before judgment one time for a drug conviction whether it be possession of CDS or possession of CDS with the intent to distribute.
I successfully defended a case in Baltimore County District Court this week in which my client was in this exact position. He was charged with simple possession of marijuana having been caught by the police with just a few grams of the banned substance. Unfortunately for him, he had received probation before judgment for a possession charge a few years ago and was therefore barred by law from receiving this disposition a second time. Here are the facts:
In early June of this year, the police took up a covert location to conduct surveillance on what they considered to be a high crime area. The police witnessed a car driven by my client drive into the area and park in a parking lot. Very shortly thereafter, an individual walked up to the window and engaged my client in a brief conversation. The individual walked away and returned a few minutes later and got into the vehicle. My client then drove off the parking lot. The police followed my client as they believed they had witnessed a potential drug transaction. After following my client for a few blocks, the police claim that my client turned into a one way street heading in the wrong direction. They activated their emergency equipment and stopped the vehicle.
My client provided a valid driver’s license as well as the registration to the vehicle. The police were unable to observe any contraband and apparently did not smell marijuana coming from the vehicle. At this point the officers ordered my client and the passenger out of the vehicle and conducted a search of the passenger compartment. They recovered a 2 or 3 grams of marijuana and a smoking device from the center console. The police then arrested my client and charged him with possession of marijuana.
As I indicated earlier in this blog, my client had a prior PBJ for possession and was therefore legally ineligible for a second. This meant that any conviction would result in a permanent criminal record. The case proceeded to trial in the District Court where I argued that although my client was indeed in possession of the marijuana, that the police had violated the 4th Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches because they did not have probable cause to search the vehicle. Instead, I argued, that they had only what amounted to a reasonable articulable suspicion that a crime had been committed. This lesser level of suspicion may have allowed the police to stop and briefly detain and question my client long enough to confirm or dispel their suspicion, but that what they had observed did not rise to the level of probable cause giving them the right to search my client’s vehicle.
The court agreed with my argument and suppressed the evidence resulting in a not guilty finding. This was certainly not the biggest case that I have ever handled but it was a satisfying result for a decent kid who didn’t deserve to have to go through the rest of his life with a criminal record just because he wanted to smoke a little weed.