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Patrick Long Law Firm, PC.

Possession, distribution, possession with intent to distribute, sometimes trafficking.

How Is A Drug Charge Determined To Be Either A Misdemeanor Or A Felony?

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 94C lays out how substances are defined as controlled substances, classifies them into several broad classes, and establishes the penalties for each action and each class of substance. Any crime that can carry a sentence to the state prison is a felony; crimes which can only carry a sentence to the House of Correction are misdemeanors. Similar laws exist at the federal level, but the distinction between felony and misdemeanor is based on whether the maximum potential sentence is a year or more, vs. less than a year. Normally it will be clear just by looking at the law you are charged under. However, there are some situations where federal law may define something as a felony even though it is a misdemeanor under state law, and this can cause unexpected problems for immigration, security clearances, or professional licensing.

What Is An Unlawful Controlled Substance?

Any substance defined by state or federal law as an unlawful controlled substance. The lists are quite extensive and I think only a chemist would know what most of the listed substances are. But the most common ones are things like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine, and any prescription drug if you don’t have a prescription for it. Also, many chemicals that are used in making these drugs, or are chemically similar enough that they might be used to get high, are controlled substances.

What Is Considered Possession, Sale, Distribution And Intent To Distribute Unlawful Drugs?

Possession of a controlled substance is knowingly having the ability and intent to exercise control over it. Obviously you possess something you put in your pocket. But if you tell your friend to hide your drugs, the law still considers you in possession, because you still have the ability and intent to control what happens to the drugs (and your friend would also be guilty of possession). On the other hand, if your friend borrows your car and leaves drugs behind that you don’t know about, you are not in possession, although you would likely be charged and have to convince a jury that you really didn’t know. Massachusetts law usually makes no distinction between sale and other forms of distribution. Sometimes there are exceptions for “social sharing” (giving your friend a little bit while using the drug together) and this may be classified as possession, a lesser offense.

But in general whether you give, sell, or trade a drug to someone else, all that matters is that you have a controlled substances and it changes hands somehow. Possession with intent to distribute is just what it sounds like it would be once you know those two definitions. It means you possess the substance and have the intent to distribute it. Many people are confused by “possession with intent” charges because they think it is basically just a possession charge. But in fact the law treats possession with intent the same as it treats distribution. The punishments are the same, the immigration consequences are the same, etc. The only difference is the possession with intent charge may be harder for the government to prove. Usually they only charge distribution if they actually conduct a controlled buy; using an informant. But if you are caught with a large enough amount of a controlled substance they may charge possession with intent even if they have no real evidence of intent to distribute.

What Is Considered Drug Trafficking In Your State?

The exact threshold for trafficking varies depending on the drug, but in essence it is distribution or possession with intent to distribute a large amount of a drug.

Are There Any Laws Addressing Drug Paraphernalia In Your State?

Possession, distribution, and manufacturing of drug paraphernalia are all crimes. An item is drug paraphernalia if it is designed or primarily intended for use in some manner relating to the possession, distribution, or manufacture of drugs.

For more information on Drug Offense Cases In Massachusetts, an initial case evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (617) 718-5550 today.

Patrick Long Law Firm, PC.

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