If you have been pulled over and arrested for drug trafficking along I-95, I-695 or Route 100 in Maryland, you need a defense lawyer who will aggressively protect your rights. The police procedure used during drug traffic stops is often in violation of constitutional rights. The law can be difficult to understand and incredibly nuanced, so speaking with a knowledgeable attorney is likely the best way to discover if the traffic stop was legal. A drug trafficking conviction on your record can have dire consequences. Therefore, your first action after being charged should be consulting with a skilled attorney.
Whether you are a Maryland resident or were stopped while traveling through the state, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, PA, can defend you against drug charges. We protect the rights of individuals from overzealous police officers and prosecutors. Our attorneys can handle cases involving illegal drugs and prescription drugs in state and federal courts. Call 410-766-0113 to discuss Maryland drug traffic stop laws and your charges with our experienced attorneys. Initial consultations are always free.
Law enforcement officers sometimes target out-of-state drivers on the interstate. Drivers may be stopped for a minor traffic violation and arrested for drug trafficking because they have a large amount of a drug in their possession. Even if the drivers did not intend to sell the drugs, they can be charged with trafficking. Fortunately, there are potential avenues for getting the evidence dismissed from the case, so having drugs found in your vehicle is not an immediate path to jail.
The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that there must be probable cause for an officer to make a traffic stop. They must have a valid reason to suspect that a violation of the law is taking place or has taken place. Although the reason could be as simple as having a headlight out or failing to signal a turn, there must be a reason for the stop to have occurred. If the stop was not legal, the search will also not be legal. Any evidence found during an illegal search can be excluded from the case by filing a motion to suppress the evidence. The charges could be dismissed without this evidence. Because police have some legal flexibility when suspecting that a crime has been committed, it can be difficult to determine the constitutionality of a stop. Speaking to an attorney that has experience with police procedure and legal precedents can help you determine if your traffic stop was legal.
Another issue that can arise during a traffic stop is unnecessarily prolonging the stop by summoning a backup drug-sniffing dog team without justification. According to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Rodriguez v. United States in April 2015, traffic stops should be reasonably brief, and officers are not able to prolong the stop beyond what is reasonable to investigate the reason for the stop. It cannot be used to conduct another investigation into other, unsubstantiated issues. In short, officers cannot extend the duration of a traffic stop to arbitrarily search for the presence of drugs without probable cause. However, the dogs can be deployed to search the vehicle without your permission if they arrive within the typical time window for that stop.
With a lawyer to protect your rights, you can contest drug trafficking charges. We will examine whether the traffic stop was legal, if the police had probable cause, and if the officer had enough observations to arrest you.
Maryland takes drug trafficking charges seriously and imposes harsh penalties. Drug trafficking is classified as a felony and can apply to illegal drugs and controlled substances. Police and prosecuting attorneys are not bound to a specific amount or weight of controlled substances to charge individuals with drug trafficking. They will look at all the circumstances of the arrest and the evidence, then determine if these circumstances reasonably suggest an intent to distribute or dispense the drugs. This can include the presence of large amounts of cash or digital scales, how the drugs are packaged, or the events witnessed by the arresting police officers. Because drug trafficking charges are subjective and without strict guidelines, this is a charge that an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to have dismissed or reduced.
If possible, the reduction to simple possession or the removal of drug trafficking charges should be your goal due to the potential penalties of a conviction. Violations of trafficking laws can result in a 20- or 40-year prison sentence, depending on the substance, and large fines.
A trafficking charge that could potentially be challenged is Maryland Law 5-612, or the volume dealer statute. This law applies harsher punishments to those found in possession of large volumes of controlled substances. These penalties will apply if the police find:
If convicted of possessing these drugs in such quantities, the judge will impose a mandatory 5-year prison sentence as well as a $100,000 fine.
Maryland trafficking laws also include Section 5-614, which states that it is a crime to import certain controlled substances. For legal purposes, importing controlled substances is defined as bringing the specified substance into the state without authorization. This statute clearly outlines the exact amounts of controlled substances that must be present for this charge to apply:
The weight for cocaine includes any cutting agents present, so it does not need to be 28 grams of pure cocaine. The punishment for a conviction of this statute is a felony that has a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
Although no drug-related conviction is ideal, a simple possession conviction will have fewer ramifications than drug trafficking charges. For example, it can change the type of conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor. It can also dramatically change the associated prison time and fines. For example, simple possession of small amounts of cocaine will result in a potential sentence of 4 years in prison and/or fines. A trafficking charge can increase this to up to 20 years in prison and/or up to $25,000 in fines for a first offense. This increase occurs for all controlled substances. The penalties for simple possession of heroin are 4 years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine. A felony conviction can increase these penalties to 20 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
If the police did not have probable cause to make a traffic stop, or to search you or your vehicle, we may be able to get evidence suppressed or charges dismissed. We will also determine whether the search and seizure was legal. Police are generally prohibited from executing a warrantless search in locations where an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy. If an illegal search is conducted, any evidence obtained during the search is not admissible in court. Another potential defense to reduce the total weight of drugs found during the arrest is to ensure the weight does not include the packaging. Maryland law does not explicitly state that the weight must include the packaging, so the actual net weight of the drugs seized can be challenged.
To effectively challenge your drug charges, you need an aggressive defense attorney on your side. It can be daunting to fight drug charges, especially drug trafficking charges, and it is not a feat you should take on alone. The highly competent staff at the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, PA, has spent more than 20 years ensuring that our clients’ rights are protected, particularly in drug trafficking cases. Our skilled team may be able to get your trafficking charges reduced to simple possession and entirely change how this incident will change your life. We can work diligently to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. Schedule your free case evaluation with the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, PA, or contact us by phone at 410-766-0113.
7310 Ritchie Highway, Suite 910
Glen Burnie, MD 21061
30 Corporate Center
10440 Little Patuxent Parkway,
Columbia, MD 21044