Drug Offenses Overview
Prosecutors and courts in Massachusetts do not treat drug offenses lightly. District Attorneys’ offices use every means at their disposal, state and federal laws combined, to prosecute these cases very aggressively.
If you or someone you know is being investigated for or is charged with a Massachusetts drug crime, that person is going to need to retain a talented and experienced Massachusetts drug crimes defense attorney – one who can demonstrate a proven track record of success in defending drug charges in Massachusetts. To choose an attorney who only handles these cases “now and again” is a foolish decision, and anyone who does so, or who chooses an attorney based upon the lowest fee possible, is inevitably going to be sorry. In the legal profession as in any profession, “you get what you pay for.”
If you have been arrested on a Massachusetts drug charge, you face a number of critical decisions to make. Above all, your first action should be to hire an experienced Boston, Massachusetts drug crimes defense lawyer. Call Attorney William D. Kickham at Ph.: 617-285-3600 or at Ph.: (781) 320-0062 immediately, or send us an email here for a free initial consultation. This first step is an extremely important one if you are facing charges right now, or if you think that you will be facing charges soon. The experience and skill level of the attorney you hire will have a direct effect on how much bail you will have to pay, how much of a jail sentence you may face, and whether your constitutional rights will be adequately protected throughout the legal process. It is an extremely important choice.
Regardless of the drug crime that you might be accused of, both the police and prosecutors are required to respect and adhere to the constitutional rights that you are entitled to under the law. We know how to explore legal weaknesses in the Commonwealth’s case against you, and we analyze every aspect surrounding your arrest for any possible legal flaws surrounding your arrest or detention. Often, various legal issues will arise as to the legality of the drug’s search and seizure, such as whether evidence was illegally obtained or whether probable cause existed for a search at all. We know how to utilize such information to aggressively defend your constitutional rights. Click here to see a list of the Proven Results we have produced for our clients.
Next to Massachusetts DUI / OUI charges, drug offenses are among the most common criminal charges prosecuted in Massachusetts. This area of law is governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 94C, with several sub-sections that are applicable to particular offenses under this subject. As we said above, prosecutors and judges in Massachusetts do not take these cases lightly – they are very aggressively prosecuted, and the penalties are severe. The truth is, most people don't understand how serious our drug laws are in Massachusetts, and you might be surprised to learn in these pages just how easily someone can be charged with a Massachusetts drug crime, and how serious the penalties can be.
Some Background on Drug Cases In Massachusetts:
Here are some examples of how serious the penalties for drug offenses can be in Massachusetts. Consider the following scenarios:
- If you are arrested for selling just over an ounce of marijuana within 1000 feet of a school zone in Massachusetts - even if you were just selling it to a friend for personal, recreational use - you could face a mandatory jail sentence in Massachusetts. “Mandatory” means that the judge involved would have no discretion or ability at all to lower the sentence: You could immediately land in jail or prison.
- If a friend or loved one were suffering severe pain for some reason and could not get a doctor’s appointment for a day or so, and you offered to bring him or her some prescription painkillers that you had previously been legally prescribed, you could be charged with drug trafficking charges, and your friend charged with drug possession charges. A charge of "trafficking" means that you are being accused of selling or distributing a controlled substance.
- If you are stopped by police for any reason and prescription drugs are found on your person but you do not have the prescription bottle with you, you could be held by police and charged with illegal drug possession.
These are just a few examples of how easily a person can be arrested and end up in jail for fairly minor drug offenses in Massachusetts. Even more common, teenagers and college-age students typically experiment with marijuana and other relatively minor drugs. If charged and convicted, the resulting criminal record will follow them for the rest of their lives. On an immediate basis, it can even disqualify them for federal financial aid in college. Conviction of a charge like this is not something that should happen to a young person starting out in life.
Classifications of Controlled Substances In Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, drugs that either require a prescription from a licensed physician, or drugs that are outright illegal, are known as “controlled substances.”. As stated above, controlled substances in Massachusetts are governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 94C, and are classified in five separate categories, based upon their chemical composition: Those five categories are as follows:
- Class A Substances: Includes Heroin, GHB (and other “designer drugs,”) Morphine and Ketamine (otherwise known as “Special K”.)
- Class B Substances: Includes Cocaine, Ecstasy, Amphetamines (“Speed,”) LSD, PCP, Methamphetamines (“Meth,”) and prescription drugs such as Oxycodone (Percocet & Percodan.)
- Class C Substances: Usually includes prescription tranquilizers and prescription narcotics such as Clonazepam, diazepam (Valium), and Hydrocodone (Vicodin;) Also mescaline, mushrooms (“psilocybin,”) and similar hallucinogenic drugs.
- Class D Substances: Usually Marijuana and Phenobarbital.
- Class E Substances: Includes prescription drugs containing weaker amounts of Codeine, Morphine, or other Opiates
If a person is found to be in possession of any of these controlled substances (with the exception of one ounce or less of marijuana,) severe criminal penalties can apply. Note: Any criminal charges for prescription drug violations presume that the defendant did not possess a valid prescription for the drug from a licensed physician.
Several different types of drug offenses exist in Massachusetts. A list of the more common drug offenses follows here: They are as follows:
- Drug Possession
- Possession With Intent To Distribute Drugs
- Conspiracy To Sell or Distribute Drugs
- School Zone Drug Violations
- Inducing Minors To Sell or Distribute Drugs
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia With Intent to Sell or Distribute Drugs
- Counterfeit Substances
- Drug Trafficking Charges
- Knowingly Being Present Where Heroin Is Kept
- Federal Drug Crimes
The penalties and punishments for these crimes vary widely. If you click on any of the above drug offenses, you will be taken to a separate page that will discuss the law and penalties that apply to that particular offense.
If you have been arrested on a drug charge in Massachusetts, call us at Ph.: (781) 320-0062 or at Ph.: (617) 285-3600, or email us here for a free initial consultation. We appear before all District and Superior Courts in Eastern Massachusetts. We can provide you with the expert legal guidance, advice, and help that you need. Our Proven Results attest to our talent.
I’ve Been Arrested For One Of The Offenses listed above. What can you do to help me?
As with many drug cases, the first legal mechanism we typically employ on behalf of our clients charged with this type of crime is called a Motion To Suppress. These types of Motions are used to exclude evidence seized by the police in violation of certain constitutional rights you have. The police are prevented from bringing into evidence anything obtained in violation of your constitutional rights under the circumstances in which you were arrested. In sum, the objective is to get the evidence thrown out of court.
If the facts do not support a Motion To Suppress in a given situation, there are several other defenses available in drug cases. These commonly relate to who was in actual possession of the contraband (for example, if the drugs were found in a car with passengers, or in an apartment with more than one tenant). Prosecutors sometimes charge "Possession With Intent To Distribute," which is a more serious charge than mere Possession, when a person is arrested along with large quantities of drugs. When this happens, we can possibly reduce the formal charges to simple Possession.
We have effectively defended cases involving a wide range of drug-related offenses, including the following:
- All Massachusetts Drug Possession cases
- All Massachusetts Drug Possession with Intent to Sell and/or Distribute Drugs cases
- All Massachusetts Drug Trafficking cases
- All Massachusetts Drug Manufacturing cases
- Massachusetts Cocaine Charges
- Massachusetts Heroin Charges
- Massachusetts Marijuana Charges (When the amount seized is greater than one ounce.)
In Massachusetts, drug offenses can bring grave legal consequences, including mandatory minimum jail sentences and forfeiture of a person’s driver’s license. A criminal record stemming from any drug offense can haunt a person for possibly the rest of his or her life. A criminal record of drug offense(s) can crush a person’s employment potential, and limit prospects to gain admission to college or graduate school, and/or secure a scholarship. A criminal record of a drug offense(s) can also seriously reduce the prospect of obtaining citizenship in the United States, and it can also serve as the basis for deportation.
If you are arrested and charged with a drug offense in Massachusetts, it is critically important that you immediately contact an experienced Boston, Massachusetts drug defense lawyer, in order to secure all possible legal defenses that are available. Click here to see a list of our Proven Results.
We practice before all District and Superior Courts in Eastern Massachusetts. Call us at Ph: (781) 320-0062 or at Ph.: (617) 285-3600, or Contact us for a free initial consultation and we can discuss the particulars of your case.