Non-violent Maryland drug dealer sentenced to 12 years in prison

Being arrested for possessing a small amount of drugs may seem like a minor problem. However, if someone has a history of drug crimes, this type of arrest can lead to surprisingly serious consequences. This is what a Maryland man recently discovered.

In May 2008, an undercover sting apparently revealed that a 34-year-old man possessed three small containers of cocaine and $214 in cash. This was not the man’s first encounter with drugs. He had been convicted of narcotics felonies twice before. However, he had only served a total of six days in jail for those non-violent crimes and had completed the terms of his probation without being convicted of new crimes.

However, because of his previous record, the matter proceeded to federal court. The defendant pleaded guilty to one count of dealing cocaine. While a number of legal experts agree that a reasonable sentence for this offense would be one to two years of house arrest, so the defendant could retain his job and be with his family, the federal court saw things differently.

Because of his two previous drug-related convictions, the defendant was classified as a career offender and was subject to stiff federal sentencing guidelines of 151 to 188 months in prison. The court chose a penalty on the low end of the guidelines, but 151 months, or 12 years, in prison is a high price to pay for the small amount of drugs found in the man’s possession.

Typically, drug cases tried in federal court involve violent traffickers embroiled in large conspiracies. However, sometimes authorities choose to aggressively pursue more average drug offenders such as this defendant. This can happen when someone has been arrested repeatedly or is suspected of certain types of crimes. That is why is it important for a defendant to consult with a defense attorney when charged with any type of drug crime.

What are federal child porn laws affecting Maryland?

Child pornography can be filed as a federal crime with significant consequences. This is also crime that usually garners media attention and can quickly damage someone’s reputation — even if that person has not been found guilty. Below is some information on this federal charge:

While the First Amendment covers free speech, child pornography images are not protected under the Constitution. The definition of child pornography according to section 2256 of Title 18 of the United States Code is “any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age).”

Federal law considers a visual depiction:

— Photographs

— Videos

— Computer generated or digital images that not distinguishable from an actual minor child

— Images that are created, modified or adapted but show what appears to be an identifiable minor

— Electronic data, undeveloped video tapes or film that can be developed to show an image of child pornography

It should be noted that a charge for child pornography can occur even if a minor is not engaged in sexual activity. Sexually suggestive images may result in a charge for child pornography.

It is against federal law to produce, distribute, receive or possess child pornography. In addition, a minor may not be persuaded, induced, enticed or coerced into engaging in sexual conduct in order to produce images of that activity.

There are many other types of child pornography charges, such as a parent of a child selling, buying or transferring custody for the purpose of the child being used in images of child pornography. It is important to remember that in the U.S., a person facing criminal charges is innocent unless found guilty by a judge or jury — no matter what the crime may be.

Presenting a solid defense against child pornography is essential and an experienced Baltimore criminal defense attorney can provide more information on how to create such a defense.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, “Citizen’s Guide to U.S. Federal Law on Child Pornography” accessed Feb. 03, 2015