If you have been charged with drug possession, the first question you are probably asking is how to get a possession charge dismissed or, more likely, can I get a possession charge dismissed? This is because the sentence for drug possession can actually lead to strict conditions or even incarceration, which is especially harsh given that you are punishing someone for his or her addiction. The statute under which you can find the sentence for drug possession is Massachusetts General Laws chapter 94C, section 34.
The sentence for drug possession (first offense) in Massachusetts varies based upon the type of drug that is possessed. If the drug is under Class A (such as fentanyl), Class B (such as cocaine), or Class C (such as meth), then the maximum penalty for drug possession (first offense) is imprisonment for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment (for heroin, a Class A drug, the maximum penalty is increased to imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than two years or by a fine of not more than two thousand dollars). If the drug is under Class D (such as marijuana) or Class E (generally, “other” pills), then the maximum penalty for drug possession (first offense) is imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than six months or a fine of five hundred dollars, or both. The sentence for drug possession can have serious consequences, especially when considering that the charge of possession of heroin as a subsequent offense is a felony. Click here to learn more about the distinction between a misdemeanor and a felony.
The good news is that there are several different avenues to pursue to seek to get a drug possession charge dismissed in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts legislature has enacted several different statutes that allow for such a possibility prior to arraignment. Three examples are as follows:
Under Massachusetts General Laws chapter 111E, section 10, a person who is evaluated and considered a “drug-dependent person” can have his or her case dismissed prior to arraignment after completing court-approved treatment.
Under the Valor Act, military veterans, active service members, and those who have a history of military service may be eligible for pre-trial diversion.
The Crime Bill in 2018 expanded the eligibility requirements for pre-trial diversion. So long as a person meets the below criteria, a drug possession charge can be dismissed prior to arraignment:
The defendant has had no criminal conviction since reaching the age of 18;
The defendant has no pending criminal cases or outstanding warrants;
The defendant is charged with a crime potentially punishable by a term of imprisonment and over which the district court has final jurisdiction;
The defendant has a program’s recommendation that he or she would benefit from participation in it.
Even if you do not qualify for a dismissal prior to arraignment on the above criteria, it is still possible to get a possession charge dismissed. However, it is often dependent on your personal circumstances, criminal background, and even where the case is being prosecuted. Some District Attorney’s Offices are more lenient than others on sentencing for drug possession. For example, the Essex County District Attorney’s Office has created its own drug diversion program for those charged with drug possession in their courts. See https://www.mass.gov/service-details/essex-drug-diversion. In addition, if you are facing a possession charge in Boston, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office will often dismiss a drug possession charge upon proof of some level of drug treatment and a clean drug test at the courthouse, which will be administered by the probation department.
The above are just some examples of how to get a possession charge dismissed. In many courts in Massachusetts or the Boston area in which someone is charged with drug possession, lawyers are able to advocate for a dismissal on court costs or after the successful completion of pretrial probation. It is important to speak to an experienced lawyer regarding your options and personal circumstances if you are charged with drug possession. Attorney Michael Thaler will analyze your case with you and strategize the best way to get your possession charge dismissed. For a free consultation, contact Attorney Thaler at 781-366-0806 or at email@example.com.