Possession of Drugs

Violent and property crimes have been on the decline in Boston for years, but drug possession remains a concern. Drug possession charges in Massachusetts should be taken very seriously. If convicted of drug possession charges, particularly after a first offense, you may face several significant penalties in addition to the possibility of imprisonment, including fines, mandatory substance abuse programs, and social stigma.

A Boston criminal defense attorney with experience defending against drug charges understands police procedures for obtaining evidence. Only evidence obtained constitutionally may be used against you at trial. Sometimes police find drugs on you or in your car in an illegal search, for example, and a skilled attorney can potentially suppress this evidence. Similarly, police must read you your Miranda rights if they arrest you and intend to question you in order to make use of any admissions you make.

Penalties for Drug Possession

The potential penalties you face depend on the type of drug that was found and the amount. In Massachusetts, drugs are categorized in Classes A-F. Class A drugs are prosecuted most harshly because it is believed they are the most dangerous and most likely to cause severe dependency. The category includes heroin, GHB and morphine.

Penalties for Possession of Class A Drugs

For a first offense involving a Class A substance, you may face up to 2 years in jail, in addition to fines or treatment programs that the court may require, but subsequent offenses are punished more severely. For example, anyone who possesses heroin can be sentenced to jail for 2 years for a first offense and/or be fined up to $2,000. For a second offense you can be sentenced to jail for up to 2 ½ years. Massachusetts prosecutors can also indict second and subsequent heroin possession cases to a Superior Court. When that is done, the law states that upon a conviction you must be sentenced to at least 2 ½ years in state prison and you can be sentenced to as many as 5 years. A $5,000 fine can be imposed for a conviction of a second or subsequent offense.

Penalties for Possession of Drugs Considered Less Dangerous

Possession of substances in the other categories is often punished less harshly. For example, anyone who possesses marijuana, a Class D substance in Massachusetts, can be sentenced for up to 6 months in jail and be fined up to $500. Second and subsequent convictions for possession of marijuana can result in a 2 year jail sentence and a fine of up to $2,000. However, if this is your first criminal marijuana possession case and you have no other drug related convictions, the case will be continued without a finding. That requires you to successfully complete probation, after which your case will be dismissed. The maximum period of time that the case will be continued for will be 6 months.

Special Circumstances Leading to Further Penalties

The above categories notwithstanding, for multiple offenses and where certain circumstances are in play, there may be additional consequences. For instance, Massachusetts has a mandatory minimum jail sentence for those who are arrested or charged with possessing a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a public or private school or within 100 feet of a park or playground. It does not matter if you had no intent to distribute. Prosecutors take this crime very seriously.

Drug Possession With Intent to Distribute

Drug possession for personal use outside a school or park zone is usually not as harshly punished as drug possession for distribution. The latter is a very serious felony charge. But, unfortunately, drug possession with intent to sell is also charged in ways that can be unpredictable. In some states, having more than a specific amount of illegal drugs will lead to a possession with intent to distribute charge. But in Massachusetts, a person can be charged with this crime even under murky circumstances such as owning a scale or having more than one marijuana plant.

A first offense of possession with intent to distribute can lead to a 2 ½ year sentence in a House of Correction or County Jail, or an even longer sentence in state prison, depending on the class of drug involved. State prisons are much harsher environments than a House of Corrections. Multiple repeat offenses may trigger more severe penalties such as mandatory minimum sentences or long sentences in state prison. Mandatory minimum sentences are those in which a judge must sentence a defendant to a minimum term of imprisonment as set forth in a statute, after a jury conviction.

If you are caught possessing drugs of any kind, contact experienced Boston criminal defense lawyer Stephen Neyman for help fighting the charges. He knows how to develop the best possible defense strategy, negotiate with prosecutors, and protect your rights. Contact us at (617) 263-6800 or via our online form.

Case Results » Possession of Drugs

  • Possession of a Weapon and Possession of Drug case against financial analyst to be Dismissed November 12, 2013

    Worcester District Court: The prosecution alleged that on May 13, 2013 officers from the Auburn, Massachusetts police department were called for a report of a suspicious male in a parked vehicle. The officers investigated. While trying to assist the defendant, who they believed in peril, located a concealed weapon and some drugs. The man, a well known financial analyst was charged with these crimes and hired our office. Today, all matters were continued without a finding. Once probation is completed all charges will be dismissed. The man will have no criminal record.

  • Charges of Open and Gross Lewdness to be Dismissed November 5, 2013

    Attleboro District Court: On July 10, 2013 police officers working the Kid Rock concert were directed to a man who was highly intoxicated. Witnesses photographed the man urinating on others attending the concert. Some of the victims were women. The man had several arrests and some convictions in the past for an assortment of crimes. All charges were continued without a finding. Once our client completes a minimal course of probation all charges will be dismissed. This will not be on his criminal record.

  • Local College Student Avoids Arraignment, Gets Diversion for Possession of LSD September 30, 2013

    Lawrence District Court: On September 27, 2013 an Andover, Massachusetts detective observed three individuals parked in a motor vehicle engaging in behavior consistent with illegal drug activity. The officer contacted the occupants of the car. He immediately saw marijuana in the car and ordered the driver and passengers out of the car. A subsequent search for additional drugs and weapons led to the discovery of a significant quantity of LSD. The driver, a local college student, immediately admitted that this substance was his. This individual was placed under arrest and charged with possession of a class A substance. Today, Attorney Neyman was able to get pretrial diversion for the defendant. He was not arraigned and all charges will be dismissed in sixty days.