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Drug Possession Defense Attorneys in Maine

Maine Drug Possession Criminal Lawyers

Even though many people think that Maine is too small of a state to have major drug trafficking or substance abuse, Cumberland County has been included as one of the New England High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas.

The two most serious drug problems in Maine involve marijuana and diverted pharmaceutical drugs, but cocaine and heroin also show up in moderate quantities throughout the state.

The drug enforcement agents in Maine are notorious for arrested residents of Maine and other states as well for possession of any amount of illicit drugs.

More than 2,000 people were arrested in 2006 in Maine for possession of marijuana and more than 400 of those arrested were juveniles.

Drug possession is one of the most popular juvenile offenses committed across the country, and the penalties for this drug crime depend on the classification of the drug and the amount found.

Possession of Controlled Substance Charges in Maine

In Maine, it’s illegal to possess controlled substances. “Controlled substances,” however, are any drugs that the government regulates. This means that it’s not just the drugs that are obviously illegal, like cocaine or heroin.

Prescription drugs are also “controlled substances” because you need a prescription from a doctor in order to use them lawfully.

This wide meaning of what a “controlled substance” is, makes it very easy to illegally possess drugs, without even knowing it.

Classes of Controlled Substances in Maine

The following drug schedule is taken from the Maine Revised Statutes Title 17-A, Chapter 45, §1102 and broken into 4 schedules as follows:

  • Schedule W: is where the most serious drugs are found. Schedule W includes dangerous, highly addictive, drugs that have little to no medicinal purpose, like cocaine and heroin.
  • Schedule X: includes addictive drugs and other hallucinogens that pose less of a threat, or have a higher medicinal value, than Schedule W drugs. The types of drugs included in Schedule X are, for example, peyote, ketamine, and other hallucinogenic substances that come from plants or mushrooms.
  • Schedule Y: The substances listed in Schedule Y include predominantly prescription drugs. These drugs have high medicinal value, but can also be very addictive, and therefore easily abused. Included in Schedule Y are drugs like codeine and valium.
  • Schedule Z:  This is a catch-all category and includes all other prescription and non-prescription drugs not included in the other three Schedules. Marijuana is among the drugs listed in Schedule Z.

For a complete listing of the drugs listed in each one of Maine’s Schedules, you can read more in this post in our blog.

Penalties for Drug Possession in Maine

If you get convicted for drug possession, the penalty that you could face depends on the nature of the drug that you were in possession of, and how much of it you had.

Generally, drug possession is a misdemeanor charge. The exact penalties depend on which of Maine’s controlled substance Schedules the drug belongs to:

Type of Crime Jail time Fine
Schedule W Class D (Misdemeanor) Up to 364 days $2,000
Schedule X Class D (Misdemeanor) Up to 364 days $2,000
Schedule Y Class E (Misdemeanor) Up to 6 months $1,000
Schedule Z Class E (Misdemeanor) Up to 6 months $1,000

However, possession of certain drugs carries elevated penalties. Possession of any of the following drugs is a Class C felony drug charge, which comes with a fine of up to $5,000, and up to 5 years in jail:

  • Hydrocodone,
  • Oxycodone,
  • Methamphetamine,
  • Hydromorphone, also known as Dilaudid,
  • Heroin, or
  • Crack cocaine, if you’ve had a prior drug conviction.

While a conviction for possessing these drugs comes with higher fines and a longer jail sentence, possession of over a specific amount of certain Schedule W drugs can turn charges from a Class D misdemeanor into a Class B felony. Class B felonies carry fines of up to $20,000, and up to 10 years in prison. These are the Schedule W drugs, and the amounts required, that can result in these elevated penalties:

  • Possession of 14 or more grams of either cocaine, or methamphetamine, or
  • Possession of 4 grams or more of crack cocaine.

What It Means to “Possess Drugs” in Maine

Now that we’ve been over what “controlled substances” are, and the kinds of penalties that come with a conviction for possessing them, what does it actually mean to “possess drugs”?

This might seem like a silly question, but remember that it’s up to the prosecutor to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you were doing this, in order for you to be convicted on a charge for drug possession.

In order to convict you for a misdemeanor drug possession, the prosecutor has to show four things:

  1. You knowingly, or intentionally possessed a substance that you knew, or believed to be, a Scheduled drug, and which was, in fact, a Scheduled drug.
  2. That the substance was a certain type of drug,
  3. That the substance was of a certain weight or amount, or
  4. That you have a drug conviction on your criminal record.

To get a conviction for a felony-level drug possession charge, the prosecutor also has to show some of the following, as well, depending on the situation:

While some of these elements are often fairly easy for a prosecutor to show, like whether a certain drug is one of the ones listed in Maine’s Schedule of controlled substances, many of the other ones can be very problematic.

Showing that you “knowingly or intentionally” had drugs in your possession can be difficult for prosecutors to show, depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Accidentally picking up the wrong luggage at the airport and then discovering that it’s full of illegal drugs would mean that you didn’t actually knowingly possess the drugs, and definitely didn’t possess them intentionally. Remember that it’s the prosecutor who has the burden of proof.

He or she has to rule out these possibilities if they’re reasonably feasible.

Even the act of possessing drugs can be difficult for prosecutors to show. “Possession” is a tricky thing. If, instead of mistakenly picking up the wrong luggage, you purposely pick up your friend at the airport, but he has drugs on him, and he subtly slides them under his seat while on the way home so he doesn’t have to have them in his pocket on the way, who has possession of the drugs? You don’t even know they’re there.

It’s situations like these that criminal defense attorneys know to look for. Defense attorneys like William T. Bly know the elements that the prosecutors need to prove, in order to get a conviction for drug possession. Just as importantly, they also know the best ways to prevent prosecutors from proving these elements in trial.

Possession of Marijuana in Maine

In Maine, we have Medical Marijuana laws that protect low-end marijuana users who self-medicate their medical issues. However, not everyone has a legitimate medical issue where a medical marijuana card would make sense.

Some people just like to smoke marijuana and as we all know, marijuana is the biggest selling recreational drug in Maine and the US. In fact, some Maine communities, such as Portland, have taken the extraordinary step of attempting to legalize marijuana within the city limits.

While medical marijuana and community coalitions to legalize marijuana have met with varied success throughout the country, possession of marijuana without a legitimate medical marijuana card is still illegal in Maine. So, what are the possible ramifications associated with being charged with possession of marijuana?

The answer is, “it depends”. Meaning, it depends on how much marijuana is actually in your possession. Anything from 2.5 ounces or less is a civil offense. Anything more than 2.5 ounces is a criminal offense, and the penalties vary greatly based on the amounts.

Civil Possession of Marijuana in Maine

In Maine, it is illegal to be in possession of marijuana without a card. However, if you’re in possession of 2.5 ounces of marijuana or less, it’s only a civil charge. That means the State can’t put you in jail. They can only assess a fine and technically, you won’t have a criminal record if things go poorly in court.

If you are in possession of 1.25 ounces or less of marijuana, a civil fine of no less than $350.00 can be assessed and no more than $600.00 may be imposed as a sanction by the court.

If you are in possession of more than 1.25 ounces of marijuana but no more than 2.5 ounces, a fine of no less than $700.00 may be assessed but no more than $1,000.00. On the high end of the scale, you’re looking at a maximum fine of $1,220.00, which includes surcharges.

Clearly, smoking marijuana (and getting caught by the police) can be an expensive habit.

Criminal Possession of Marijuana in Maine

Anytime you’re in possession of more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana, you’re likely facing criminal charges if you’re busted by the police. The larger amount of marijuana in your possession, the bigger the penalty and the more serious the charge.

  • 2.5oz – 8oz marijuana is a Class E crime, for which the maximum penalty includes a fine of $1,000.00 and jail time of up to 6 months.
  • 8oz – 16oz marijuana is a Class D crime, for which the maximum penalty includes a fine of $2,000.00 and jail time of up to 364 days.
  • 1+ pound – 20 pounds marijuana is a Class C felony, for which the maximum penalty includes a fine of $5,000.00, 5 years in state prison and up to 2 years probation.
  • 20+ pounds marijuana is a Class B felony, for which the maximum penalty includes a fine of $20,000.00, 10 years in state prison and up to 5 years probation

Contact a Maine Drug Possession Attorney Today!

If you’re facing any type of drug possession charges, contact us to discuss your options. You need the experience of the drug crimes defense attorneys at The Maine Criminal Defense Group. Let us help you!

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