It's not just drug dealers in Massachusetts who are arrested and sent to prison if they are caught in the act of selling or manufacturing drugs. Carrying or possessing drugs for your own personal use is also against the law, and can be a crime that lands you with a huge fine, or even time in prison under certain circumstances. It's usually a good idea to understand as much as you can about the laws surrounding drug classifications, possession, and the intent to supply if you want to avoid significant penalties.
Beyond the crime of possession, it is also illegal to supply another person with drugs, to create drugs yourself, or to export or import drugs over borders. It is also illegal to allow any premises that you rent, own, occupy, or use, to be utilized for drug-related activities. If you are found in possession of drugs in close proximity to a school, or youth facility location, you might also find that this behavior is treat as an aggravating factor - leading to higher penalties.
In Massachusetts, drug charges are covered by various sections of Chapter 94C of the Massachusetts General Laws.
Drug Possession Examples
Importantly, in Massachusetts drugs are classified in one of five groups, according to their impact on society, and how dangerous those drugs might be. Importantly, it is not necessarily the effect that the drugs might have on the individual that is taken into account, but the impact that they could have on a whole - as drugs can affect people in very different ways, and lead to a number of dangerous outcomes.
The five drug categories in Massachusetts are:
- Class A substances - heroin and other opiates such as morphine, a number of designer drugs such as GHB, and ketamine
- Class B substances - cocaine, prescription opiates such as Oxycodone, Oxycontin and Codeine, methadone, MDMA, LSD, PCP, ecstasy, methamphetamine, and amphetamines
- Class C substances - prescription narcotics and tranquilizers such as diazepam, hydrocodone, librium, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin/mushrooms, STP, some medium dosages of prescription narcotics, and other hallucinogenic substances
- Class D substances - marijuana, phenobarbital, chloryl hydrate, and some lesser dosages of prescription narcotics
- Class E substances - lighter dosages of prescription narcotics containing opium, morphine or codeine
If you are stopped by the police when you are in the possession of drugs, then it is likely that you will be arrested. The drugs that have been found in your possession will also be destroyed. If you are caught using or simply carrying drugs on your person, then you can be charged with possession, or even possession with intent to supply. Possession with intent to supply is a far more serious offense, but it requires the presence of an increased number of drugs.
Drug Possession Punishment
If you are found guilty of the crime of drug possession, then the penalty that you receive as a result will depend on the class of the drug involved, how much of the drug was found in your possession, where you have been found (for instance if you were found closer to a school the penalty may be higher), and your personal history.
Usually, simple drug possession sentences tend to come with the lightest penalties, while the intent to distribute drugs or cultivate and manufacture drugs come with much more severe penalties. In some cases, prosecutors will provide plea deals to defendants who might be able to help them with a more significant investigation - for instance, the investigation of a crime that might lead to the arrest of an organized crime leader.
Factors that may influence the penalties for drug possession - aside from mandatory minimum sentence imposed in some states - will include:
- the criminal history of the defendant,
- the type, and the amount of the drug
- the circumstances of the arrest
In Massachusetts, for example, possession of heroin will incur the following:
- first offense - up to 2 years in a house of correction or a fine of not more than $2000, or both
- second or subsequent offense - 2.5 to 5 years in state prison or a fine of not more than $5000 and imprisonment in jail or house of correction of up to 2.5 years
Drug Possession Defenses
As with many other crimes, there are some ways in which an individual might defend themselves against the crime of drug possession using the assistance of a professional attorney.
- One defense is lack of knowledge. When claiming lack of knowledge, the person indicates that they didn't know what they had was an illegal substance in the first place. For instance, someone who has a box of cocaine that they believed to be baking soda will be acquitted if they can show that they genuinely believed that the box didn't contain cocaine.
- Lack of intent may be another possible defense in certain circumstances. In order for the government to prove that possession was a precursor to distribution, it must be able to show that the defendant intended to control the drug in question - even if it was not physically in that person's possession at the time of the arrest. If the defendant can show that he had no intent to control or sell the drug, then he or she may be acquitted
What to Do If You Are Charged
If you are charged with drug possession in Massachusetts, it is important to seek the assistance of a professional as quickly as possible to help you better understand and deal with your case. A professional with experience dealing in drug related cases will be able to help you determine which of the possible defenses apply to your specific case, as well as what the options available to you might be.
Boston Massachusetts Drug Charges Lawyer
Take fast action, preferably before any charges are filed. Get the best defense possible in Boston Massachusetts and throughout the Northeast region. Contact the law office of Attorney Geoffrey G. Nathan, in Boston, MA. Contact him now for your free consultation. Call toll free, at 877-472-5775.