What Is The General Timeline Of A Drug Related Case In Massachusetts?
It depends on the competence of the lawyer and how pro-prosecution the judge is. Quicker is generally better, because the drug lab is often slow to do the testing and this can result in dismissals when the case is called for trial and the prosecution is not ready. So I generally try to get a drug case to trial in about 4-6 months if the client is free or 2-3 months if they are in prison. But biased judges will sometimes give prosecutors more time. Additionally, if your case is a priority to the prosecution, they may speed up the testing to avoid a dismissal.
Can Police Execute The Search Of Automobiles Or A Home Without A Warrant If There Is A Suspicion Or Probable Cause Of Drugs Being On The Premises Or In The Car?
Generally, police must have a warrant to search a home, but exceptions exist. Most significantly, they can search if they have permission from someone who they reasonably believe has the right to give them permission. The laws on this are a bit complicated and always changing, but most of the time anyone who lives or seems to live in the home would count. You have a right to say no if they ask for permission. Even if they try to intimidate you into giving them permission. There are also exceptions where they may be able to enter the home for emergencies—e.g. because they believe someone is in danger inside, or because they are in “hot pursuit” of a fleeing felon—and can bring charges based on anything they happen to see while dealing with the emergency.
Searches of a car generally do not require a warrant, as long as it is in a public place, such as a road or parking lot. However, such searches still require probable cause, consent, or some other exception such as officer safety. But they may only search areas of the car that reasonably address these concerns. If the excuse for the search is that they have stopped you for a broken taillight and are worried you might have a gun that would endanger officer safety, searching the trunk while you are waiting patiently in the driver’s seat would probably not be allowed because a gun in the trunk would pose no threat.
As A Passenger In A Motor Vehicle Or Someone In A Place Where Drugs Are Found, Can I Also Receive A Drug Related Charge?
Yes. Usually everyone in the vehicle or in the location where drugs are found will be charged unless police have already done some investigation that indicates who owns the drugs. But you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and can fight the charge.
Do Most Drug Related Cases End Up Going To Trial?
Most cases do not go to trial. Generally if the Commonwealth does not have the drug certificate when the case is called for trial, it will be dismissed. If they do have it, the most common outcome would be a plea, because many drug convictions carry mandatory minimums or immigration consequences that can be avoided by taking certain pleas and not others, or because taking a continuance without a finding instead of a conviction would keep it from showing up on your CORI for most job hunts, and going to trial risks getting the worst possible outcome. However, where the prosecutor is unwilling to agree to a plea that meets your needs, or has a weak case on some other elements (such as whether you were actually the person who had the drugs), it may be better to go to trial.
What Are The Penalties For Drug Convictions In Your State?
The penalties for drug convictions vary widely depending on the class of drug, the amount, and the seriousness of the offense (possession, distribution, or trafficking), and your own criminal record. Someone charged with simple possession of cocaine, who has no other record, would probably get probation if convicted. Trafficking, on the other hand, can carry penalties up to 20 years, especially if you have a prior record. And in federal court, it can carry a life sentence.
Are There Any Alternative Programs Available For First Time Offenders?
First time offenders charged in Massachusetts district courts or Boston Municipal Court may receive diversion in some cases. One requirement is that you have a program’s recommendation that you would benefit from it. This is more realistic if you are charged with drug possession, or with small-scale distribution or possession with intent that you are doing to support a drug habit, than if you are charged with a more large-scale scheme. To get maximum benefit and keep the charge from showing up on more sensitive versions of your CORI, you have to get into diversion BEFORE being arraigned, which typically happens at your very first appearance in court. The way to do this is to be looking for a program before you have court, if possible, and if needed ask for a continuance (a delay in the court proceedings) so that you can have time to look before being arraigned.
What Sets Your Firm Apart In Handling Drug Cases Specifically?
An understanding of the consequences drug charges can have for the client’s life. Particularly immigration consequences, where many criminal defense attorneys do not fully understand the complex ins and outs of how different crimes, different dispositions, or even different immigration statuses may change the consequences someone faces.
For more information on General Timeline Of A Drug Related Case, an initial case evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (617) 718-5550 today.
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