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Is there a statute of limitations on drug possession/trafficking/distribution?

Arnold, MD |

Some years ago, a friend of mine made a living from selling drugs for a short time. Now, he is nearly 3 years clean, and seeking to obtain a US security clearance in the future. Due to the fact that federal agencies require extensive polygraph testing during the investigation process, he would like to ensure that he does not face prosecution from the agency/agencies he'll be applying to. Therefore, he'd like to know about the Maryland/Federal statutes of limitations on such crimes

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Attorney answers 7


Different laws have different purposes. The statute of limitations laws concern the within which the government can initiate a complaint is determined by statute as interpreted by caselaw. It is not a simple calculation.

Consult with an experienced criminal federal and state defense attorney to determine exposure to prosecution.

The use of polygraph exam in application for employment required an experienced employment lawyer.

Of course, every answer is based on the question asked and requires a more complete context. This answer should not be relied upon to make a legal decision. Seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney before acting. Law Offices of Raymond G. Wigell, Ltd. Defenders of the Constitution since 1975/ Aggressive Creative Defense Strategies/ Website: 24/7 --(708) 481-4800.


The statute of limitations differ between misdemeanor offenses and felony offenses. Your friend needs to speak with an attorney with expertise in security clearance issues

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Maryland has no statute of limitations for these offenses, and while the federal statue limitations would be five years from the end of the offense, if co-conspirators have continued the conspiracy, then it isn't over. An attorney can assist you with evaluating the prosecution's case, any defenses that you might have, and any plea offer that might be made, so that you can decide whether to plea bargain or go to trial. If you were to be found guilty, then an attorney can assist you with presenting mitigation, allocution, and a recommendation for a more lenient sentence. and a recommendation for a more lenient sentence. Consider seeking a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Beware that online posts are not confidential. If somehow the prosecution were to find your post, then it might be used in evidence against you.

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In Maryland, there is no statute of limitations for such felonies. However, this is dissimilar from the federal system, where the statute of limitations of 5 years. The larger issue, and this is not legal advice, but advice concerning the polygraph, is that any admissions made during the course of your examination, could be forwarded to the appropriate agency. As retired law enforcement, I can tell you that the DEA received numerous messages regarding its potential applicants admitting to the sales of controlled dangerous substances. Be mindful of the process!

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Perhaps you can explain further. I have a hard time understanding what the statute of limitations could possibly have to do with his answers at the interview. Just as a general caution, furthermore, I would never take any action based on the assumption that a statute of limitations would protect me from criminal exposure. A statute of limitations may in some cases be successfully asserted in bar of a specific criminal charge already filed. But there are so many ways of charging an offense, and so many ways for an imaginative prosecutor to avoid the statute, that it can never, ever, be taken as a guide for future conduct.

In my opinion, the answer to the question, "is it safe to come out now?" is always No!


Selling narcotics is a felony in Maryland and there is no statute of limitations that prevents prosecution in our state for that crime. Before taking a polygraph, your friend should consult with a plain spoken attorney to explore all his options. Did your friend do an FBI clearance already?


The federal limitation on the prosecution of most non-capital offenses, including all drug crimes, pursuant to 18 USC § 3282, is five years from the date of the offense, or in the case of a conspiracy, five years from the later of (1) the last act in furtherance of the conspiracy by any co-conspirator; (2) the achievement of the object of the conspiracy, thereby its conclusion; or (3) the person's withdrawal from the conspiracy in a legal sense.

Joshua Sabert Lowther, Esq.

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