Articles Posted in Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS)

Maryland Criminal Attorney Baltimore Criminal Attorney Most people are aware that in Maryland a person who has been convicted of a violent crime or a felony may not possess handguns. People seem to be less aware of restrictions involving other weapons such as rifles, shotguns, assault weapons and antique firearms. I have blogged about this in the past and this blog is really intended to discuss possession of other weapons but I think an overview of the law on handgun possession will be helpful to the reader.

First of all, what exactly is the definition of a handgun under Maryland Law? One would think that this would be a relatively straightforward and easy question to answer. Unfortunately, that is not the case. There are two separate definitions under two of the three sections of the Maryalnd Code that criminalize handgun and firearm possession. Under Public Safety 5-101(n) a handgun is defined as a firearm with a barrel less than 16 inches. Under this section a handgun includes signal, starter and blank pistols. Under Criminal Law Section 4-201(c) a handgun is defined as a pistol revolver or other firearm capable of being concealed on the person. Under this definition a handgun includes short-barrelled rifles which is defined as a firearm having a barrel less than 16 inches or an overall length of less than 26 inches; and shotguns with a barrel less than 18 inches or an overall length of less than 26 inches. Under this definition a standard rifle, shotgun or any antique firearm is not deemed to be a handgun. Presumably this definition would also include starter pistols since they are included in the definition of a firearm under the Public Safety Article definition, but would not include signal or blank pistols as they are not included in that definition. Very confusing to say the least.
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Maryland Criminal Attorney Baltimore Criminal Attorney I was hired today to represent a freshman at Towson University who got charged with possession with the intent to distribute marijuana. It is a typical case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time as well as a clear case of overcharging by the police as I have discussed in previous blogs. Although I believe the case will work out favorably in the long run, it will certainly have some short term criminal and administrative consequences.

My client moved into the dorms at Towson University just a few weeks ago. He didn’t have any high school friends who were also attending the university so he signed up to be randomly assigned roommates. He soon learned that his new roommates were marijuana smokers who frequently smoked in the dorm room. This past Saturday that careless habit came back to haunt them because one of the RA’s apparently smelled the smoke coming from their room and called the police.
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Maryland Criminal AttorneyBaltimore Criminal Attorney I represented a client today on a possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance case today in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. In this case the particular substance was amphetamines and the case presents a good example of how many narcotics detectives overcharge certain cases – presumably to inflate their own felony arrest statistics.

In this case the client was pulled over for a routine traffic offense. The officer claimed, as they frequently do, that he smelled the odor of burning marijuana coming from the car. (The Court of Appeals ruled approximately 15 years ago that the smell of marijuana alone constitutes probable cause. As one might imagine after that ruling was handing down, police officers across Maryland began to smell marijuana on car stops with increasing frequency). The officer ordered my client out of the car and commenced a search of the vehicle. Inside the vehicle the officer found a small amount of cocaine and two percocets, which for anyone who doesn’t know, is a prescription narcotic. He arrested my client and charged him with possession of a controlled dangerous substance.
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Our firm has represented both doctors and and Web sites who are under investigation or have been charged with prescribing controlled substances via the Web.

The growing number of Web sites that offer consumers the opportunity to obtain prescription medications pursuant to an online medical consultation have been attracting considerable regulatory scrutiny from state and federal health officials.

For example, in Illinois, the Department of Professional Regulation suspended the license of Dr. Robert Filice for prescribing Viagra via an Internet pharmacy for patients he had never seen. Dr. Filice was working as a consultant for The Pill Box, a San Antonio, Texas-based pharmacy chain that sells online. The state suspended Dr. Filice’s license immediately because it determined his actions put people in danger. The agency later reinstated his license when he admitted that his conduct was “unprofessional.” The physician was fined $1,000, put on a two-year probation, and ordered to not prescribe medication to patients without personally interviewing and examining them.

Patients who wanted a prescription drug like Viagra logged onto The Pill Box’s site and filled out a health questionnaire. The completed form went to the company’s medical consultants, including Dr. Filice, who would reviewed the forms, and, if he found no health conditions that would preclude him from prescribing the drug, he would write a prescription for the drug, which the Pill Box would fill.

Many state legislators have passed or are considering bills to regulate online and mail-order pharmacies that sell products in the state. The laws would require Internet pharmacies to register with the state annually.

Recent enforcement actions in several other states highlighted below are indicative of this increased scrutiny at the state level:

• In Washington, the Board of Health fined an orthopedic surgeon $500 for engaging in “unprofessional conduct” by writing Viagra prescriptions for patients without performing a physical examination.

• In California, state regulators recently shut down two web and by a San Diego osteopath who was using the Web to prescribe baldness treatments without performing a traditional medical examination. The state is likely to fine the doctor, who has been practicing medicine for nearly a quarter-century, and could take away his license.

• In Kansas, the Attorney General on June 9 filed civil petitions alleging violations of consumer protection laws against seven companies that were selling prescription-only medications, including Viagra and weight-loss drugs, over the Internet. The Attorney General alleged that the companies violated a variety of state laws. Primarily, the alleged misdeeds stem from the distribution of prescription drugs by a doctor or pharmacist who was not licensed in the state. The state went after not only the sites that prescribe the medications, but also three pharmacies that filled the prescriptions. One of the suits alleges that Viagra was illegally dispensed to a 16-year old boy using his mother’s credit card. If found liable, the companies could face penalties of $5,000 to $10,000 per violation.
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As a Maryland Criminal Attorney I am often confronted with cases in which a person is charged with possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, heroin, marijuana or some other controlled dangerous substance (CDS) or even simple misdemeanor possession of CDS, where in addition to being charged criminally, the police also seize the person’s property, usually automobiles, weapons and/or currency pursuant to the drug asset forfeiture laws. Most people are surprised to learn that, unlike in a criminal case where the State has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a person is guilty of the offenses with which he is charged, under drug asset forfeiture law, once property or money is seized by the police pursuant to a narcotics arrest or even a narcotics investigation, it is presumed that the property or money is subject to forfeiture and the owner bears the burden of proving otherwise. Not only that but the government maintains possession of the asset throughout what can be a long and expensive legal battle to have the property or money returned.

I was retained yesterday in a case in Baltimore County Maryland District Court that is troubling to me as a Maryland Criminal Attorney and as a citizen of this state on several levels. The facts are that an anonymous caller contacted 911 and advised that he had just witnessed two black males try to rob a white male (my client) as he attempted to enter his apartment. The caller went on to say that the black males beat the white male with a handgun and that during the scuffle one of the black males was knocked down the steps. The caller went on to say that during the scuffle, a bag of marijuana had fallen from one of the three men’s pocket and had spilled down the steps and on the ground. He noted to 911 that as they spoke the white male was sweeping the marijuana up.
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Maryland Criminal Attorney Last month I blogged about a Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana Case that I was handling in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City that involved a Confidential Informant. I wrote that in many cases involving the Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin or other controlled dangerous substances, the police have utilized a confidential informant known in the street vernacular as a snitch. In the case I was handling I believed that I could force the disclosure of the informant’s identity because I believed that the person may have been the brother of the person whom my client was with when he was arrested. I filed a written motion based on the facts as laid out in the statement of charges. Unfortunately, a Criminal Defense Attorney never really knows what the facts will be in their entirety until the police officers get on the stand and testify because they invariably add facts that were not in the charging document. This makes it somewhat difficult to prepare for these cases because, again the attorney doesn’t know the complete factual scenario until the court date when the motion has to be argued. As a reminder, the facts as laid out in the statement of charges is a follows:
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As an experienced and aggressive Maryland Criminal Attorney I regularly represent defendants in Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County and throughout the State of Maryland who are charged with violating state laws criminalizing the manufacture of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), distribution of CDS or with possessing these substances in sufficient quantities and/or under certain circumstances which would lead to conclusion that the defendant possessed the substance with the intent to distribute it. The CDS’s mostly commonly involved in these cases in Maryland are cocaine, heroin and marijuana although an increasingly large percentage of these cases involve prescription pain killers such as Percocet, Oxycontin, Hydrocodone and others. A small percentage of cases involve so called “club drugs” such as MDNA also known as ecstasy, ketamine and others. Occasionally a Maryland criminal lawyer will run into a case involving PCP or methamphetamines.

Under certain circumstances, individuals charged with violating these Maryland laws, primarily dealing with schedule 2 and 3 narcotics as well as marijuana, are subject to mandatory prison terms that may not be suspended and must be served without parole.
In Maryland there are two classifications of offenders who qualify for mandatory prison terms. The first involves defendants who have been previously convicted of distribution or possession with the intent to distribute CDS. These defendants are commonly termed repeat offenders or subsequent offenders. The second classification deals with defendants who are charged with possessing large quantities of CDS, so called “weight counts” and situations where in addition to possessing large amounts of CDS, the defendant is charged with being an organizer or leader of a particular drug organization; so called “kingpins”.
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Maryand Criminal Attorneys or Criminal Lawyers in Baltimore and around the State deal with a high volume of cases involving the possession of controlled dangerous substance (CDS) such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, ecstasy, methamphetamine, etc., and cases dealing with possession with intent to distribute these substances. Confidential informants are one of the primary sources of information for narcotics detectives and are regularly utilized by them in narcotics investigations. In some instances the informants are registered and paid, in others they are facing charges themselves and are seeking leniency with the authorities also known as “working off their charge”. Other informants are simply concerned citizens who are reporting criminal activity but are unwilling to testify in open court. Typically in these investigations, narcotics detectives will use information provided by the confidential informant either to secure a search warrant for a particular place or to establish probable cause to stop a particular individual, usually in the context of a car stop. These warrantless encounters are more frequently litigated than are cases involving warrants. The reason for this is that searches based upon warrants that are duly signed by a judge or magistrate are afforded a presumption of reasonableness. In challenging a search warrant the defense attorney has to get over the additional hump that is the “Leon” good faith exception. The good faith exception basically states that even if the probable cause for a search warrant is found to be deficient or some of the information contained in the statement of probable cause is found to be incorrect, the court will still uphold the constitutional validity of the search so long as the police officers acted in good faith. In other words a defense attorney basically has to show that either the police intentionally lied in order to get the warrant or that the warrant application is so completely devoid of probable cause that no police officer acting in good faith could have believed it to be sufficient. Obviously, this is a very difficult standard.
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For a Maryland Criminal Attorney it is imperative to understand the law regarding the use of confidential informants by police and prosecutors. There are generally two issues when dealing with confidential informants: The first issue is does the confidential informant provide sufficiently detailed information about which he or she can demonstrate a basis of knowledge to justify probable cause for a search or at least reasonable articulable suspicion for an investigatory stop. The second issue is whether or not the government must disclose the identity of the informant. I will discuss this second issue in this blog and leave the first issue for another day. The issue of whether or not the government must disclose the identity of the confidential informant issue turns on whether the informant is a “mere tipster” or an actually participant in the transaction. I have a case that I am currently working on where I intend to request the disclosure of the identity of the confidential informant. Here is my memorandum of law in support of that motion. I have deleted the last names and other identifying information of the participants including my client for privacy reasons.
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An Aggressive Maryland Criminal Attorney will always review all criminal cases for Constitutional Violations such as Speedy Trial, Illegal Search and Seizure, Illegal Confessions in violation of a person’s Miranda Rights and, Illegal Traffic Stops. I have a case scheduled for next week in the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City at the North Avenue location that involves a significant Speedy Trial issue that I believe will result in the dismissal of all charges.

The client allegedly had a domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend at the time, way back in March of 2006. The ex-girlfriend went to the court commissioner and swore out a warrant against him alleging that he had assaulted her in the second degree and repeatedly harassed her and committed telephone misuse by repeatedly calling her with the intent to harass her. The warrant was issued that day but there was apparently never any attempt to serve this warrant on my client until April of this year, over two years after the warrant was issued. This obviously puts the issue of Speedy Trial in play. Speedy Trial is an issue that comes up often in serious felony cases in the Circuit Court, particularly in Baltimore City. In felony cases that are charged in Circuit Court, either by way of indictment or criminal information, Speedy Trial commences upon the filing of that formal charge, not when the original warrant is issued. That is because the original warrant in the majority of circuit court cases is issued by way of a District Court charging document, known as a Statement of Charges, a charging document upon which the defendant cannot be tried.
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