Most people in Maryland understand that the commission of certain drug crimes can result in serious penalties. For example, while possession of a small amount of marijuana may only result in a fine, other drug crimes — such as drug trafficking — could result in years behind bars. And, if a firearm is used in connection to the crime, it could lead to further penalties should one be convicted.
Under Maryland Code, Section 5-621, if a person is committing a drug trafficking offense, he or she is prohibited from using, wearing, carrying or transporting a firearm, or possessing one in connection to the drug trafficking offense based on the circumstances. The consequences for violating this law are steep. Not only will one face the penalties associated with the drug trafficking offense, but also will be charged with a felony weapons crime and will be penalized as follows.
A first violation will result in incarceration for 5 to 20 years. Each subsequent violation will result in incarceration for 10 to 20 years. These are mandatory minimum sentences, which cannot be suspended by the court. Moreover, these sentences are consecutive to those regarding the drug trafficking offense — not concurrent. In addition, the use of certain types of firearms, such as machine guns, during and in relation to the drug trafficking offense will increase the mandatory minimum sentences two-fold if convicted.
The use of a firearm in connection to a drug trafficking crime ratchets up the severity of the consequences a conviction would bring. Weapons charges need to be taken seriously. Drug trafficking is only one crime that is made worse should a firearm be involved. Those who need more information about when the use of a weapon is a criminal offense in and of itself may want to seek legal advice.