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: “Mr. Investigator, The Marihuana Is Mine, But The Cocaine, Heroin and Ecstasy aren’t. Really!”

Ok, here is the scene. You are visiting your old pal Donny Dealer in Boston. You, being a good ol’ “party animal”, brought a bit of marihuana so you guys can party.

Donny was only too happy to party with you.

Unfortunately, unbeknownst to you, there has been an investigation going on regarding Donny and a his other friends, Mickey Mule and Greg Grower. Apparently, the investigators have the crazy notion that Donny is involved in the drug trade.

And so it is that, midway through smoking your first joint, there is suddenly a lot of noise and commotion and you suddenly find yourself lying face down on the floor with police officers saying something about a search warrant.

The officers search the apartment.

Guess what?

They find a plethora of drugs, including cocaine, heroin and ecstasy. Apparently, Donny did not need you to bring your own hard-earned pot after all.

The officers are screaming something about a gun and Donny, who, incidentally, does not seem as shocked as you feel, tells them that the gun is not in the apartment and that he wants a lawyer.

Now, the police bring you both to the police station. They separate you and put you in what looks like a small conference room. You are uncuffed and offered a beverage (non alcoholic). Your high is long gone and you sit there and wait from someone to come in and question you.

Now what?

If you think this scenario is far-fetched, you are wrong. Felony-type wrong.

The outcome of what you do next could change the rest of your life…in a bad way. You see, those officers are going to come in, tell you that they know that the drugs are not yours (because you seem like a good kid and, besides, they know everything that has been going on in that apartment and have never seen you before). You are invited to tell them the “truth”, aka what they want to hear, and then they will let you go home.

Go for it?

Well, of course, that is your decision, not mine. A few things to keep in mind, though.

First, let’s look at the worst possibility. There’re a lot of drugs in that apartment. Given the amount alone, they are going to bring charges of Possession with the Intent to Distribute. This gives the extra bonus, especially in Suffolk County where school zones abound, of being charged with doing so in a School Zone. For this, you win a mandatory minimum sentence of two years.

Hopefully, you are not on probation anywhere, because, if so, you have just violated it and are looking at incarceration on that most likely. Of course, should you have an prior record of such possession, then this is your second and subsequent offense, which means wins you even more time via mandatory minimum sentences.

Looks like you are not getting out of custody anytime soon…but then, the officer did tell you that if you told him “the truth”, he would let you go home right away because he knows you’re not guilty! Oh boy!

Then, you remember reading that police officers are allowed to, and do routinely, lie when trying to get statements from defendants.

Well, how about telling the truth and say, “Actually, the pot was mine…I was just sharing it with Donny. You see, I had no idea that any of this stuff was going on. I thought Donny was drug-deprived, in fact.”

Unfortunately, you just confessed to possessing the marihuana with the intent to distribute and, indeed, distributing it.

“But it was not for money!”

Doesn’t matter.

“But having a bit of pot on you is no longer a criminal act!”

But sharing it is.

Now, the officer is saying something like, “For instance, we know that you know where Donny keeps the firearm. That is really all we care about, not a bit of pot. Where is the gun?”

You don’t know where the gun is. You just confessed to drug trafficking. What do you say? Tell him the truth and you know he is not going to be happy. Lie? Will that help? Which alleged drug dealer do you burn?

“Ahhh”, you think to yourself. “Maybe I should have just said I wanted a lawyer and nothing else like Donny did”

Maybe.

Because, either way, you are not going home tonight!

But then again, don’t worry…you were never going to be once the officers found those drugs. The only question now is how much worse have you made the case against you?

By the way, if Donny hasn’t done so already, feel free to contact me to discuss your options and your case by calling 617-492-3000.

In the meantime, have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!

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