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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. Fentanyl is now classified as a Class A drug involving these same potential penalties

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 an unlawful amount of 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 an illegal amount of marijuana can result in up to 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 with intent to distribute within 300 feet of a public or private school or within 100 feet of a park or playground and where the commission of the offense involved the use or threats of violence or a weapon, or involved selling drugs to a minor. Prosecutors take this crime very seriously.

Drug Possession With Intent to Distribute

Drug possession for personal use 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 too many marijuana plants.

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
  • Charges of Negligent Operation and Drug Possession Dismissed Prior to Arraignment

    On April 6, 2021 a Massachusetts State Trooper was on patrol on Route 90 in Worcester County. He observed a man drive by him with a large lit joint in his hand. The  man was driving erratically. Once the two made eye contact the driver was pulled over. He passed the field sobriety tests. However, the trooper charged him with negligent operation of a motor vehicle under G.L. c. 90 section 24 and possession of a class D drug under G.L. c. 94C section 34. Attorney Neyman was hired. We filed motions prior to arraignment seeking dismissal based on inadequacies in complaint application and a lack of probable cause. The judge agreed and all charges were dismissed prior to arraignment. 

    Read More in Drug Crimes

  • Two Counts of Possession of Class E Drugs Dismissed

    On October 3, 2019 a 911 caller alerted Massachusetts State Police to a man driving erratically on a major Massachusetts highway. Officers located the vehicle and effectuated a stop. They immediately noticed that something was wrong with the driver's behavior. He submitted to field sobriety tests and failed. He admitted to having taken a large amount of depressants. He was arrested and during an inventory search of the car the police located two different Class E drugs to which the defendant admitted possessing and taking. The man was charged with OUI drugs, G.L. c. 90 Section 24 and possession of a Class E drug, two counts, G.L. c. 94C Section 34. Attorney Neyman was hired. Today, the OUI was continued without a finding and the drug charges were dismissed. 

    Read More in Drug Possession

  • Drug Possession Charges Against Local Professional Do Not Issue After Clerk Magistrate Hearing

    The defendant is a professional and principle in a very well know Boston company. On November 18, 2017 suburban, Massachusetts police received a call for a woman having a seizure and in need of medical assistance. The responding officers tried to stabilize the woman while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. The woman had no identification on her person however officers were able to ascertain her identification by accessing her wallet in her pocketbook. While doing so the officers located a substance they believed to be methamphetamine. The woman was taken to the hospital and eventually summonsed to court for possession of drugs in violation of G.L. c. 94C Section 34. Attorney Neyman was hired. Today, at a clerk magistrate hearing we were able to convince the clerk not to issue the complaint.

    Read More in Clerk Magistrate Hearings

Client Reviews
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"In less than two months Stephen Neyman got my old conviction vacated. I now have no criminal record." Paul W. Boston, Massachusetts