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Possession of Controlled Substance (Class A, B, C, D, E)

In Massachusetts, a conviction for any drug charge, even "simple" possession, will have far-reaching collateral consequences. as it will automatically bar you from ever obtaining certain licenses. For example, any drug related conviction will prevent you from obtaining many professional licenses, including a Massachusetts liquor license to own a bar or restaurant. It is also very unlikely that you would ever be issued a LTC (license to carry a firearm), even though one would think that a simple drug charge would have nothing to do with one's fitness to possess a firearm.

In Massachusetts, under MGL c. 94C s. 34, in order to be convicted of possession of a controlled substance, the prosecution must prove that you:

  1. You knowingly or intentionally possessed
  2. A controlled substance

First, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the substance falls within one of the classes of controlled substances under MGL c. 94C s. 31. If the arresting officer has enough experience, education, and qualifications with respect to drug recognition training, his observations and opinion may be enough to prove the classification of the drug. However, if this is the only evidence of the drug's classification, a thorough cross-examination may discredit the officer's testimony, leaving reasonable doubt with respect to that element. The prosecution may take their case a step further by admitting certification of the drug after testing by the state police drug lab. However, this lab is notorious for its undue delays, and if the prosecution is unable to obtain a certification within a reasonable amount of time, the court may prohibit them for offering it into evidence.

In order to prove possession, the prosecution can either prove actual possession (the substance was in your hand, in your pocket, etc.) or constructive possession. Constructive possession means that you had the means to control, and in fact had the intent to exhibit control of the substance. An example would be that the substance was in the trunk of your car, or under a couch seat cushion where you were sitting. For either type of possession, however, the prosecution must prove that you had knowledge the substance was there. For example, it is the prosecution's burden to prove that the drugs weren't put in your jacket pocket while the jacket was checked at a bar. Of course, a reasonable jury can conclude that you knew what was in your own jacket pocket, but if there is any reason to believe otherwise, we will certainly make that point at trial.

Under MGL c. 94C s. 35, the "possession" element for heroin is much more broad. It is a separate crime to knowingly be present where heroin is kept. That means if you are present at a house and you know that heroin is anywhere in that house, or if you are walking with your friend who you know to have heroin in his/her pocket, even if you don't have control over the substance, you can face up to 1 year in jail and $1,000 fine under this statute.

The potential penalties vary depending on the specific class of drug you are charged with possessing.

Possession of a class A substance in Massachusetts (heroin, morphine, GHB, Special K) carries the following potential penalties:

  • 2 years in jail
  • $2,000 fine

A second offense for possession of class A is a FELONY in Massachusetts, carrying the following potential penalties:

  • 5 years in state prison
  • $5,000 fine

Possession of a class B substance in Massachusetts (cocaine, crack, LSD, oxycodone, oxycontin, ecstacy, hydrochloride, amphetamine, methamphetamine) carries the following potential penalties:

  • 1 year in jail
  • $1,000 fine

A second or subsequent offense for possession of class B in Massachusetts carries the following potential penalties:

  • 2 years in jail
  • $2,000 fine

Possession of a class C substance in Massachusetts carries the following potential penalties:

  • 1 year in jail
  • $1,000 fine

A second or subsequent offense for possession of class C in Massachusetts carries the following potential penalties:

  • 2 years in jail
  • $2,000 fine

Possession of more than one ounce of marijuana (class D), or possession of a class E substance in Massachusetts carries the following potential penalties:

  • 6 months in jail**
  • $500 fine
  • 1 year license loss (mandatory)

** If you are convicted of a first offense, having no other drug-related convictions or felonies on your record, for possession of more than one ounce of marijuana, or for possession of a class E substance, you are entitled to probation (no jail time). Further, if you successfully complete probation for this offense, your record will automatically be sealed (except from law enforcement).

If you have been charged with drug possession in Massachusetts, contact our office for your free initial phone consultation:(617) 830-2188

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