Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Attorney Sam’s Take: Arrested For Drug Possession In Boston – What Do You Do? Part One

So, you were out last Saturday night in Boston, enjoying the ten minutes or so that it was not raining. You figure you will celebrate with the herb of your choice. After all, this is 2009 and you can just light up some marijuana you have in your pocket and toke away, you figure. So…why do you find you need a defense attorney come Monday?

The current drug laws, including those involving marijuana, can be somewhat confusing…on or off of campus

For example, passage of the so-called decriminalization of marijuana has created a certain amount of misunderstanding. While it is not actually criminal to be in possession of an ounce or under of pot, it is not exactly celebrated either. The marijuana can be taken from you under the statute and you may have to pay a civil fine.

On the other hand, the circumstances of the arrest can still bring you back into the spotlight of criminal prosecution. For example, if there are reasons to believe you may be sharing or selling the drug, you can still be prosecuted for either trafficking or possession with intent to sell. Further, if you are under age, there are other provisions in the statute that effect you.

The first thing you need to do if arrested (or preferably before) for drug possession is to know the playing field. For example, what are you being charged with? What intent are they alleging?

There are various levels, or classifications of drugs which carry with them different levels of severity of sentence. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 94C describes the various potential penalties. For example, first offense straight possession of a heroine, a Class A controlled substance can bring you two years of jail. Second and future offenses, naturally, get you more.

Generally, I find that the circumstances of an arrest are my clients’ biggest problem. It does not take very much for law enforcement to decide that, according to their investigation, your possession of a controlled substance is really for purposes of sale. Elements such as who you are with, the prior history of your location, how the drugs are packaged and what else you have in your possession are among the things officers will consider in making this determination.

For example, if you happen to have a bunch of twenty dollar bills adding up to hundreds or thousands of dollars, you are likely to win the prize of assumed intent. Items like cell phones, scales and the like can also be considered to be evidence of trafficking, or possession with intent to distribute.

The location of your possession can play a very special part in determining your potential sentence. For example, if you are in an area in which the police believe much drug trafficking occurs, you are more likely to be considered a drug dealer.

There is a very special type of location, however, that can bring you exposure to an extra criminal sentence.

This would be the “School Zone”.

And this would be where we pick up this discussion tomorrow in Part Two of this blog.

In the meantime, should you find yourself in the unlucky position of being arrest for drug possession and wish to confer with me, feel free to call me at (617) 206-1942.

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