Drugs crimes in Massachusetts, ranging from a first time possession charge to trafficking, are governed by Massachusetts General Laws chapter 94C. This statute penalizes the illegal possession of controlled substances. In general, there are five types of drug offenses:
Possession of a Controlled Substance
Possession of a Controlled Substance with the Intent to Distribute
Distribution of a Controlled Substance
Trafficking a Controlled Substance
Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Laws
There is a lot of confusion on what constitutes drug possession, especially as it relates to marijuana and prescription medication. The drug crime laws are very general, whereas whether the Commonwealth can prove a drug case beyond a reasonable doubt is very fact-specific. This is because there are different types of drug possession – actual possession versus constructive possession. A person does not have to have drugs on their person for them to be charged, even for a first time possession charge, so long as the drugs are within the person’s custody or control. Oftentimes, a police officer will charge multiple people with possession (or possession with the intent to distribute or trafficking) of a drug. Defense lawyer Michael Thaler has handled all five types of drug cases as both an Assistant District Attorney and a defense lawyer in the Superior Court and District Courts in Boston and Dedham area.
Generally, the difference between Possession versus Possession with the Intent to Distribute versus Trafficking is the drug paraphernalia in the area and the weight of the drugs. After all, the only difference between Possession with the Intent to Distribute and Trafficking is the weight of the drugs. Drug cases are unique in that they often involve investigations by drug detectives, resulting in search warrants. When a search warrant is executed, it is important not to provide any additional information to the police, as a statement as innocent as identifying a bedroom to be yours could link you to any evidence/drugs found in that area. Drug crime law is very fact-specific and driven by whether there was probable cause supporting a search warrant. Attorney Thaler is an experienced drug defense lawyer who has litigated many motions to suppress search warrants, the result of which often determines whether the case is dismissed or is triable.
Drug crimes also carry consequences outside of the charges themselves. The Commonwealth can seek to take any money or cell phones you had with you at the time of arrest. In more serious cases, the Commonwealth can even seek forfeiture of your car or house so long as they can show it was used as part of your drug activity. A “forfeiture” case is a civil case. Thus, the Commonwealth only has to meet the civil standard of preponderance of the evidence to seek to take your property rather than the criminal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you have been charged with a drug offense, it is important to meet with a lawyer who is familiar with all aspects of drug crime law. Attorney Thaler will go over your police report and any search warrants with you and discuss different avenues to attack the Commonwealth’s case, such as through a motion to suppress a motor vehicle stop or the evidence seized pursuant to a search warrant. If you are facing a first time possession charge or a low-level drug offense, Attorney Thaler can also work with you to gather information related to your background or treatment to seek a dismissal or other favorable resolution. It is important to hire a lawyer as soon as possible such that you can put yourself in the best possible position to get the best result.
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