Many drug crimes, including Illegal Possession of Scheduled Drugs, Illegal Furnishing of Scheduled Drugs, and Illegal Trafficking in Scheduled Drugs, are charged as felonies and prosecuted by lawyers from the Attorney General’s office instead of county District Attorneys.
The investigations are usually conducted by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency using hidden recorders, body-wires, confidential informants, undercover agents, and other expensive techniques. The investigations can last months or years and are well-funded. This means the defendant charged with a drug crime faces a formidable array of resources from the State. Having an experienced defense attorney advocating for you can help level the playing field.
There are harsh mandatory sentences for some drug crimes, including a mandatory 4 years in prison for class A drug crimes. Aggravating factors like selling or furnishing within a Safe Zone or to minors can elevate the class of the crime and the ultimate penalty. Use of a weapon, as well, will usually be treated as an aggravating factor.
Although Maine has fairly progressive laws regarding marijuana use and possession, pot is still not legal in the state. People caught with less than 2.5 ounces of marijuana are subject to a fine. Less than 1.25 ounces can result in a mandatory $350 fine. Between 1.25 ounces and 2.5 ounces carries a $700 fine. Possession of drug paraphernalia also carries a civil penalty and mandatory fine of $300.
Unfair as it may seem, if the police find a pipe and a baggie with marijuana crumbs in your pocket (or glove compartment, or in your backpack, or in your living room...) you could be facing more than $600 in fines. Adjudications for these civil violations can have consequences for people applying to college and those who are seeking financial aid.