Drug Possession

Being arrested for drug possession is a frightening experience. For most people, this is their first contact with the criminal justice system, and the process of being arrested and handcuffed is stressful and dehumanizing.

Criminal Charge in Massachusetts? Call Attorney Russell Matson at (781) 817-6332.

Even if you are just issued a criminal citation, you’ve got to appear in court on a possible criminal charge. And that’s no joke.

If you’ve been and are alleged to be caught in possession of a controlled substance, there is, at least, a possibility of prison time. Although with simple possession cases, this is very rare and shouldn’t be a serious concern.

Even for an incredibly petty simple drug possession charge, if you are found guilty, you face a 6 months suspension of your driver’s license, (The license suspension law was repealed!) as well as fines, probation, and other difficulties.

But I can help you avoid a conviction. I’ve been done this road before with many previous clients.

Usually, drug cases are built on physical evidence–the cops find drugs on your or in your car during a search. By analyzing the constitutionality of the search that led to the drugs, we may find that evidence isn’t admissible at all; this can lead to your charges being reduced or dropped completely.

The police must act within certain guidelines when making an arrest or completing a search. Even when drugs are found, they must be handled in a specific way to maintain the integrity of the evidence. Any misstep on their part could drastically hurt the case against you.

Case Wins – Drug Possession
November 2016
Possession of Class B (cocaine, also Xanax/Valium)
CWOF 6 months
October 2016
Possession of Class B (cocaine)
CWOF 6 months
July 2016
Possession of Class B (LSD)
Attleboro – Dismissed
July 2016
Possession of Class B (Cocaine + Ecstasy)
Attleboro – Dismissed
July 2016
Possession of Class B (Cocaine)
Belchertown – Dismissed
November 2015
Possession of Class B
Northhampton – Dismissed
November 2015
Possession of Class B
Springfield – Pretrial Probation
October 2015
Possession of Class B
Westfield – Dismissed
February 2015
Possession of Class B Substance
Quincy – Dismissed
April 2014
Possession of Class B Substance
Attleboro – Dismissed
January 2014
Possession of Class B
Chelsea – Dismissed
February 2013
Possession w/Intent to Distribute Class D
Taunton District court
Motion to Suppress, Case Dismissed

For example, did you know that, under Mass law, the smell of marijuana alone is not sufficient cause for the police to stop you or search you? But the cops still do this all the time in a clear violation of a Supreme Judicial Court ruling on Massachusetts drug laws.

As your attorney, I would look at all the evidence to ensure it wasn’t seized during an illegal search and seizure. This happens far more than most people think.

I will review all the evidence that the police have against you to ensure that the proper procedures were followed during the investigation and arrest stages. I may be able to challenge the stop that led to the search or the search itself.

I will do what it takes to ensure you get the best results possible.

Massachusetts Drug Possession Penalties

The potential penalties you face depend on the drug that was found and the amount. Controlled substances are classified as Class A-E in Massachusetts with Class A drugs being the most dangerous and the most harshly prosecuted.

Though marijuana possession has been decriminalized for small amounts, larger amounts and distribution still have serious criminal penalties.

Possession of a Class A Substance

Class A substances include things like heroin, GHB, and morphine. These drugs are seen as having a high risk of dependency and are punished the most severely in the statutes.

  • 1st Offense: You could face up to 2 years in jail
  • 2nd Offense: You could face 2 ½ years to 5 years in prison.

Possession of a Class B Drug

Class B substances are considered very addictive and include cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA or “molly”), methamphetamine, Oxycontin (and other prescription optiate pills such as Suboxone/Buprenorphine/Buprenex),  Fentanyl, and LSD.

  • 1st Offense: Up to 1 year in jail
  • 2nd Offense: Up to 2 years in jail

While the maximum penalties look scary, I’ve actually had quite a few Possession of Class B cases dismissed or reduced to a very minimal penalty. I’d be happy to tell you in detail about how I won those cases.

More on drug possession Class B charges.

Possession of a Class C Drug

Class C controlled substances are considered not quite as dangerous as Class B, and most have some common legitimate medical and pharmaceutical uses, including narcotics like Klonopin, Valium, and meds like Vicodin(Hydrocodone), Anti-anxiety meds like Ativan and Xanax, ADD drugs like Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine, and some hallucinogens like psilocybin magic mushrooms and mescaline.

  • 1st Offense: Up to 1 year in jail
  • 2nd Offense: Up to 2 years in jail

Possession of Class D

A Class D substance is almost always marijuana. It is only a criminal charge if you are in possession of more than one ounce.

Possession of Class E Substances

Class E drugs include prescription drugs such as Adderall, Klonopin, narcotics with codeine, opiates with acetaminophen like Percocet, and some other anti-seizure, anti-psychotic or anti-anxiety drugs that can have some euphoric effects.

Typically, if you are caught in possession of one of these lesser drugs, on a first offense, the worst case most of the time is you will be required to serve probation or a continuance without finding (CWOF). However, there are many variables that can change this depending on the drug and the potency of it.

Because many drugs within these lower classifications are prescription drugs, you can face additional charges if you are caught using the prescription of another person or using fraudulently obtained scripts.

There are still many opportunities to beat these cases, or work out a deal to avoid a criminal charge.

Ref: MGL § C. 94C

Remember, with any drug possession charge, you will likely lose your driver’s license for a period of one year. however, you may qualify for a hardship license. Call me for details.

How to Beat a Drug Possession Charge

I’ve beaten drug cases in a number of different ways. I also consider it a very good outcome if we can walk out with a deal that gives you the chance to keep your criminal record clean.

Winning at a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing

If you received a criminal citation for a hearing, getting the charges dropped right here and now is the best chance to win. I wrote a book on winning cases at Clerk’s Hearings, and I’ve frequently beaten a number of drug charges at these hearings.

There are a wide variety of legal tactics we can approach the Magistrate or police prosecutor with here. In some cases, I will fully dispute the fact of the charge themselves. In other cases, we might want to fully admitting to the offense, but work out a deal to get the criminal charge dropped anyway. It really depends on the case, and sometimes we can change tactics right in the middle of the hearing.

The goal is whatever it takes to avoid a criminal charge and a drug charge appearing criminal record.

Winning with a Motion to Suppress

A motion to suppress the evidence based on an illegal search is the most common way to beat a drug possession case if you’ve been arrested and charged.

Police make mistakes all the time in how and why they search people and end up finding drugs. For example, the Massachusetts high court as repeatedly ruled that you can’t search a car or a person because you smelled marijuana. But cops still do this way too often. And those cases get dropped in court.

The cops absolutely must have a warrant or a legitimate legal reason to search you. If they don’t, it doesn’t matter what they find, it’s inadmissible.

Winning at Trial

Taking a case to trial is the most complicated way to win a case. It can take 6 months, a year, or even more to get to a trial date. At which point we need to challenge the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. Trial defense strategies are complicated and vary widely depending on the facts of the specific case.

Trials are fairly rare for simple possession cases, but do happen more with felony distribution charges.

Winning With a Deal that Avoids A Criminal Record Or Other Consequences

There are a number of different ways to avoid a criminal record, or other specific consequences that can cause you a problem. It really depends on exactly what your needs and goals are, which we can discuss and evaluate.

Drug Dependent Diversion Program

In a diversion program, you are required to complete a drug treatment program. If the judge is willing to put you in a diversion program, and you complete the terms, you won’t have a criminal record and the charge will eventually go away.

Pretrial Probation

Even better than a diversion program is pretrial probation. It allows you to get the charges dismissed after 6 months of clean drug tests. It requires no admission of guilt.

CWOF (Continuance Without a Finding)

A CWOF is admission to sufficient facts to find you guilty, without actually pleading guilty.

If a guilty plea on a drug charge is the thing that would mess up your life, such as on a job application, then avoiding having to say you were guilty can be a win.

Summer Concert Season and Drug Charges

The summer concert season always brings an aggressive police presence at outdoor events. There were a lot of police outside Fenway Park for the Dead and Company concert this past summer, and at many festivals and events at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield.

Buying the ticket and agreeing to enter is giving up your rights to search. Please be careful, and know that you are subject to aggressive and invasive search as a condition of entering any concert event.

We spoke to a woman who was searched inside her bra entering the Phish concert at Xfinity. So be smart and careful at these shows. There will be lots of arrests for Possession of a Class B substance (Ecstasy/Molly, Cocaine, LSD) Class C (Mushrooms), and Class E-prescriptions at these kinds of events.

If you get busted, please call us. We can very often help avoid the most serious consequences of a conviction and a criminal record.

Related Drug Offenses

Selling or Inhaling Toxic Vapors (Nitrous Oxide)

Concerts events, especially at outdoor venues have people selling balloons filled with nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is the most common of these “toxic vapors” under the law. It can be obtained via “whippets” or dispensed in balloons from tanks.

Laughing gas huffed from a balloon gets you an intense high. It is the same substance used in Dentist’s offices.

There were a lot of arrests for this at a recent Phish show at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield. It is typically associated with jam band events like Dead and Co, but it could be anywhere.

Selling nitrous oxide for recreational use is illegal, as is using it in that manner. Under Massachusetts Law Chapter 270 Section 18, Inhaling or selling noxious vapors is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail, and a $200 fine.

Call Me For a Case Evaluation on Any Drug Charge

When facing a charge with potentially serious life consequences, you need a defense attorney on your side willing to fight for your rights. Contact my offices for a free consultation and some valuable legal advice.

I’ve beaten a number of these cases recently, and I can help you decide your best options to deal with these charges, and move on with your life.

(781) 817-6332

Call Now for a Free Criminal Consultation.