Drug possession is one of the most common criminal offenses, not surprising given the widespread use of drugs in American culture and the increasing decriminalization for some substances like marijuana. But although recreational marijuana is now legal in Massachusetts, it remains illegal for you to possess more than one gram of it. And, possession of other commonly used substances like methamphetamine, ecstasy, cocaine, and others is still unlawful and can lead to incarceration and stiff fines.
Here are some essential things you need to know if you were arrested for drug possession in Massachusetts:
- You are not required or obligated to talk to police or to give any statements other than your name and age. Immediately tell police that you are not talking to them or signing anything but wish to contact a lawyer. If you do not know one, call a relative who can call a lawyer for you.
- Depending on the type of drug you are accused of possessing, you will be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. If heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine, which are among the most common drugs found on persons, you will face felony charges.
- Other factors that can determine if you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony or may face enhanced charges or penalties include having prior drug convictions on your record and if you possessed a large quantity or certain paraphernalia that suggests you were engaged in trafficking or distribution
- If you are caught in possession of a prescribed drug such as Vicodin or Xanax that was not prescribed to you, you can be charged with possession and possibly with trafficking or distributing a controlled substance if found with large quantities of it.
- A drug possession charge can lead to deportation if you are not a citizen and certainly if you overstayed your visa or lack documentation of your lawful presence in the U.S.
- You need not be in actual physical possession of the drug to be charged so long as the prosecution can show constructive possession. For instance, the drugs were found in your glove compartment or trunk of your car, in your drawer, or a jacket you own but were not wearing when found.
- You can be charged with being knowingly present where heroin is kept. Examples are if you were in a residence where you knew that heroin was present or were with a friend whom you knew was carrying heroin. It is irrelevant if you lacked any control over the drug. You can face up to one year in prison and a $1000 fine.
- You and your roommate can be charged with joint or shared possession of a drug if you both had control over it. For instance, you both had access to the kitchen drawer where cocaine was found.
- You can be charged with possession if you knew that a passenger in your car was carrying drugs. Knowledge can be imputed if the drugs were found in plain view or there is evidence that you were using the drug while driving or sitting in the car.
- Pre-trial diversion is available for first-time drug offenders between the age of 17-21 so long as the offense is a misdemeanor. If you are over 21, you are entitled to probation for possession of more than one ounce of marijuana (Class D) if a first offense, and for first offenders for possession of Class E substances. Your conviction record will be automatically sealed upon completion of probation.
- For drug possession and most other drug offenses, your driver’s license will no longer be automatically suspended. However, you are still subject to automatic license suspension if trafficking in Class A or Class B narcotics.
Lastly, call Paul Moraski at (978) 397-0011 for a free consultation. Mr. Moraski is a highly experienced drug defense lawyer who has successfully handled numerous drug possession cases and obtained dismissals, acquittals, probation, or other satisfactory dispositions for his clients.