South Of Boston District Attorney’s Office Policy Means A Decade In Prison For Drugs And Guns Defendant

The new changes in the Massachusetts drug laws will not help one gentleman from Fall River. It might not happen in Boston, but New Bedford’s District Attorney has a policy that means bad news for defendants possessing drugs and guns.

The result?

A decade behind bars.

William T., 30, (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) was convicted last Monday in New Bedford Superior Court on various Massachusetts drug charges, such as trafficking Class B drugs over 100 grams, trafficking Class B drugs over 14 grams and possession of marijuana to distribute, as well as possession of an illegal firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition and unlawful possession of a large capacity feeding device after pleading guilty.

Superior Court Judge Richard Moses sentenced the Defendant to 10 years for the drug trafficking charge, and a three-year sentence to run concurrently on the Massachusetts firearm charges.

The Defendant was arrested in March 2007 after police saw him exit a residence at 33 Hall St. during a surveillance operation. Police then stopped the Defendant as he drove away from the home, and a subsequent search revealed two plastic bags in his waistband containing 122 grams of cocaine.

Police then went to the Defendant’s home and executed a search warrant. Police recovered two bags of marijuana, 23 more grams of cocaine, five firearms, ammunition, a scale, packaging materials and $37,665 believed to be drug proceeds.

“This disposition was in line with District Attorney (Sam) Sutter’s office policies regarding the toxic combination of drug trafficking and illegal gun possession. The DA has made it office policy to request 10 years on trafficking over 100 grams cases or bring the case to trial. It is also the district attorney’s policy to always recommend consecutive sentences for illegal guns and drugs.

“Fall River vice detectives did a superb job investigating this case, and we are very pleased to be able to remove a major narcotics trafficker from the streets of Fall River. Detectives John Cabral, James Elumba, Jay Huard and Manuel Bernardo, along with Lt. James Keighley deserve praise for their thorough investigation,” Bristol County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Gregg Miliote said.

Attorney Sam’s Take:

One interesting thing about this sentence is that it was part of a plea bargain. In a plea bargain, the defendant has to accept the sentence in order for the plea to go through; otherwise, the matter proceeds to trial.

10 years is a long time. I do not know what, if any, prior record the Defendant had, but it would appear not to matter to Bristol County’s prosecutor. Office is policy is usually office policy, no matter that it involves human lives. Therefore, it would appear that, even if it is a first offense, a defendant with drugs and guns is facing at least a decade if convicted.

Some criminal charges carry mandatory minimum sentences. However, no charges with which the Defendant was charged carry any such sentences anywhere near the ten years.

Local district attorney offices are within their rights to have these office policies, so long as they do not violate what the law gives as allowable sentences, which these sentences do not. The only choice at the time is to, simply, not take the plea and go to trial.

Apparently, the Defendant did not have a great deal of faith in taking the matter to trial. If one loses at trial, the sentences can be, and often are, greater than one would have gotten in a plea bargain. Usually, the Commonwealth requests more time. As always, it is up to the judge as to what the actual sentence will be.

It is possible to attack a sentence after the fact. One can bring a motion to withdraw the plea of guilty (which result, if successful, is to move the case back to trial) or a motion to Revise and Revoke, which, basically, is a motion to try to either revoke or revise the sentence for various reasons.

All the more reason to be sure you have an experienced attorney in whom you have faith from the beginning of the criminal justice adventure.

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