I was given a marijuana paraphernalia citation in Frederick, MD and i need to know how the courts will handle it. This is my first offense and i know than in Montgomery county, MD the citations are null processed and the defendant is simply made to pay a $100 fine. Is it the same way in Frederick courts? If it is not should i hire a lawyer to help me get into a drug education program or some other alternative to having this on my record?
Every county is different. I imagine you may get a similar deal in Frederick County, however, it may not be a complete dismissal. It could be a STET, PBJ, or Guilty fine.
It always helps to have a lawyer no matter the charge. Your attorney can speak with the prosecutor ahead of time and may be able to workout a deal. Drug education programs are generally looked upon favorably for first offenses like this.
For a first offense, the court could impose up to a $500 fine. While this may not be likely for a first time offender, it is the maximum a judge could give you.
I would recommend consulting an attorney or applying to the Public Defender as soon as possible. Private attorneys in the area may be offer free consultations to evaluate your case better than an online forum. In that setting, an attorney could sit down with you and go over the facts of your case and determine what you would get based off of your overall record (although it sounds as though this is the only charge you have ever had, it stopped short of saying for sure). You can then make the decision whether you want to hire an attorney or not.
As far as obtaining an attorney, there are multiple options available to you. You could consult with the Frederick County Bar Association for a possible referral, Avvo's Find a Lawyer feature, or apply to the Public Defender's Office in Frederick. Good luck to you!
Absolutely hire a criminal defense attorney to handle your case. A conviction could affect you the rest of your life. Each prosecutor is different and so is every judge. For a first offense, you may be able to find a lawyer that can work out a creative deal to help you avoid even paying a fine. Make sure you schedule an appointment well in advance of your trial date.
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Frederick County has a "Drug Treatment Court" program, where you do the class and the case will be dropped and you can have the case expunged. You need to have your lawyer complete the Offender Referral Form and get it to the State's Attorney's Office for review and approval before you can get into the program. Once completed, your lawyer can follow through with the expungement so this will not appear on your record.
Prosecutors have discretion in handling cases. Even in Montgomery County, not all cases involving the same charge are necessarily handled in the same way. Even if you do not face the prospect of jail, the public record of this charge might affect whether employers, landlords, and lender choose to do business with you in the future. Consider seeking a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Beware that on line posts are not confidential.
Information in the reply is provided as a public service. It is neither a comprehensive statement of the law nor legal advice, and no one should rely on it as such. If you have a legal problem or question, you should consult with an attorney, who can investigate the particular circumstances of your situation. Responding to a post does not constitute legal representation. I am not your lawyer, until we make an agreement and I receive my fee. Beware that posts and replies are not confidential. Anyone can read them.
No, Frederick isn't as easy as MoCo. If you have no prior criminal record/contacts, they will usually allow you to do a community service/drug education program for a Nolle Pros. But you should definitely consider getting a lawyer because often when prosecutors see an unrepresented party, they try to screw them. Also, you may have some defense that could result in a dismissal with no conditions.
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