Like the rest of the country, the state of Massachusetts is scorned with drug users and traffickers alike. But do you know what differentiates one from the other and the associated penalty for each drug-related offense?
Drug Classification in Massachusetts
It is important to understand that there are five drug classifications in MA. The classification depends primarily on how dangerous a drug could be and how it impacts society.
Class A Substances – includes heroine and other opiates such as Morphine
Class B Substances – cocaine and prescription opiates like Oxycodone
Class C Substances – prescription narcotics and tranquilizers such as Diazepam
Class D Substances – marijuana and lesser dosages of prescription narcotics
Class E Substances – lighter dosage of prescription narcotics containing opium, morphine or codeine
There are a few drug-related crimes punishable under the law, but they are all treated with much seriousness in Massachusetts court. Depending on the offense, it is safe to say that people who are proven guilty of a drug-related offense do not get off that easily. So people charged with any of the crimes below should prepare themselves and hire the best criminal defense lawyer available in the state.
If you have been pulled over or randomly searched and found in possession of prohibited drugs, you are almost instantly arrested and the drugs you have with you will be destroyed on the spot. Should you be found guilty of drug possession, the penalty you will receive depends greatly on the drug classification. The amount you were carrying, your criminal history and sometimes the exact location of where you were arrested will also be considered. (higher penalty is given to those found in school zones). A first offender of Heroin possession in Massachusetts receive up to 2 years in a house of correction. Given a fine of not more than $2000, or both. While a second or subsequent offense is penalized with no 2 ½ to 5 years in state prison. Or a fine of not more than $5000 and imprisonment in jail or house of correction of up to 2.5 years.
Drug Possession with Intent to Distribute
Those found in possession of illegal drugs or narcotics of an amount not enough to be classified as a trafficker, while the substance found is individually packaged presumptively for selling; or evidence suggests there is intent to distribute. Indictment of second or subsequent offenders are treated more seriously by Massachusetts prosecutors and given harsher punishments.
This is the most serious among all drug crimes in Massachusetts. The punishment greatly depends on the amount of substance recovered and its class. Although the top three drugs reported to be most trafficked in MA is marijuana, cocaine and heroin. Class D of more than 50 pounds receive 2 ½ years to 15 years in prison and another 1 to 2 ½ years in county jail with a minimum 1 year required. For cocaine, 14 grams but less than 28 grams of cocaine, you could get 5 to 20 years in prison; where there is a five-year minimum sentence. While 14 grams but less than 28 grams of heroin gets you up to 20 years, with five
mandatory years in prison.
Other Drug Crimes
- Drug manufacturing
- Drug smuggling
- Conspiracy to violate drug laws
- Prescription drug abuse of steroids, Xanax, Percocet, Oxycontin and others
An experienced lawyer to build your case
If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with any drug crime in Essex or Middlesex county, it is critical that you get immediate legal representation from an experienced drug crime defense attorney. The penalties are extremely harsh for drug offenses in Massachusetts, and facing a drug offense without strong legal representation could have disastrous results. Attorney Raquel D. Ruano has handled several thousand cases over the years and therefore, has the experience to defend you on every drug charge.
Having been a former state prosecutor, Attorney Raquel D. Ruano has years of experience in criminal cases throughout eastern Massachusetts. She works with professional investigators and expert witnesses to prepare a thorough defense. In the process, she examines both the evidence in the case and any potential constitutional violations that occurred leading up to the arrest, such as the illegal search and seizure of evidence. She will work to suppress any evidence found as the result of an illegal search or seizure.