Possession with Intent to Distribute Drugs

While the crime of drug possession is not as serious as some of the other drug crimes on the books, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts does impose some harsh penalties for those convicted of possession with intent to distribute illegal drugs or narcotics. The law separates the crime of possession with intent to distribute into categories for marijuana, cocaine and heroin and other illegal narcotics based on their drug class distinction with individualized penalties for each. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor crime involving a Class D drug such as marijuana or felony crimes involving distributing or trafficking of a Class A drug such as heroin, the Massachusetts drug crimes defense lawyer that you choose can often make a difference between facing jail time, being placed on probation or paying fines. Crimes involving possession or possession with intent to distribute have many defenses available, such as police entrapment, illegal search and seizure, lack of knowledge of the drugs, lack of the necessary intent, violation of Miranda Rights and more. To find how your drug arrest can be challenged, contact the best Boston drug crimes defense lawyer immediately.

Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana
Marijuana is characterized as a Class D substance, and therefore the law does not impose a mandatory minimum sentence for convicted offenders. Massachusetts G. L. c. 94C s. 32C dictates that anyone who knowingly or intentionally manufactures, distributes, dispenses or possesses marijuana with the intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense is punishable by the following:
  • Imprisonment in jail or house of correction for not more than 2.5 years, or
  • A fine ranging from $500-$5,000, or
  • By both fine and imprisonment
Violation of this law for a second or subsequent time shall result in the following punishments:
  • Mandatory minimum imprisonment for 1 year (but not more than 2.5 years) in a jail or house of correction, or
  • A fine ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, or
  • By both fine and imprisonment.
Distribution of Marijuana
In Massachusetts, under  G. L. c. 94C s. 32C you may also be charged with distributing, manufacturing and dispensing marijuana. This crime carries with it the same penalties as Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana, and can be found in the above paragraph. In considering the factors associated with determining whether the controlled substance was intended to be distributed, prosecutors often look to the nature of the drug packaging, if any, and other items such as the amount of cash involved and any other tools of the drug trade present such as scales and the presence of other drug paraphernalia.  An experienced Massachusetts drug crimes attorney will exploit the weaknesses in this area to show that there is no way to infer the intent to distribute the drugs found in a given situation that may have simply been for personal use or consumption.  In order to be convicted of this crime, the prosecution must be able to prove the following three elements of the crime:
  1. The substance in question is a Class D controlled substance;
  2. The defendant distributed some perceptible amount of that substance to another person; and
  3. The defendant did so knowingly or intentionally.
Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine
Massachusetts laws consider cocaine a much more dangerous substance than marijuana, and characterize the drug as a Class B controlled substance. The law provides that anyone who knowingly or intentionally manufactures, distributes, dispenses or possesses cocaine with the intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense is in violation of Massachusetts G. L. c. 94C s. 32A. If convicted of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, the law prescribes the following penalties for a first time offender:
  • Not more than 10 years in state prison, or
  • Not more than 2.5 years in a house of correction or jail, or
  • A fine of $1,000 - $10,000, or 
  • Both fine and imprisonment, and
  • Suspension of driver’s license.
Any second or subsequent conviction for an offense of this type shall result in the following punishments:
  • 3 year mandatory minimum in the state prison with a sentence not to exceed 10 years, and
  • A fine ranging from $2,500 to $25,000, and
  • Suspension of driver’s license.
Distribution of Cocaine
In Massachusetts, under G. L. c. 94C s. 32A you may also be charged with distributing, manufacturing and dispensing cocaine. This crime carries with it the same penalties as Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, and can be found in the above paragraph. In order to be convicted of this crime, the prosecution must be able to prove the following three elements of the crime:
  1. The substance in question is a Class B controlled substance;
  2. The defendant distributed some perceptible amount of that substance to another person; and
  3. The defendant did so knowingly or intentionally.
Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin
Under Massachusetts, drugs such as heroin are classified as Class A controlled substances. This class is considered to contain the most dangerous drugs and carries the most serious penalties for crimes involving these drugs. The law regarding possession with intent to distribute heroin or any other Class A drug is found in M. G. L. c. 94C s. 32. The law provides that any person who knowingly or intentionally manufactures, distributes, dispenses or possesses heroin with the intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense is punishable by the following:
  • Imprisonment in a jail for no more than 10 years, or
  • Imprisonment in a house of correction for no more than 2.5 years, or
  • A minimum fine of $1,000 or up to $10,000, or
  • By both fine and imprisonment.
Any second or subsequent conviction for an offense of this type shall result in the following punishments:
  • Mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in the state prison (no more than 15 years), and
  • A fine ranging from $500 to $25,000
Under this law, a fine may be imposed on the offender but will not take the place of the mandatory jail sentence.

Distribution of Heroin
In Massachusetts, under M. G. L. c. 94C s. 32 you may also be charged with distributing, manufacturing and dispensing heroin or any other Class A drug. This crime carries with it the same penalties as Possession with Intent to Distribute heroin or any other Class A, and can be found in the above paragraph. In order to be convicted of this crime, the prosecution must be able to prove the following three elements of the crime:
  1. The substance in question is a Class A controlled substance;
  2. The defendant distributed some perceptible amount of that substance to another person; and
  3. The defendant did so knowingly or intentionally.
School Zone/Park Zone Drug Violation  
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts imposes harsher penalties on drug offenders if their violation took place on or near a school zone or a park zone. As per G. L. c. 94C s. 32J, in the event the offender is convicted of any of the charges above, the jury must go on to consider whether the offense was committed within 1,000 feet of the grounds of a public elementary, vocational, secondary school, preschool or head start facility or within 1,000 feet of a private accredited preschool, elementary, vocational, secondary school or within 100 feet of a public park or playground. This charge does not take into account whether school was in session at the time of the incident, or whether the defendant knew of their vicinity to such a school, park or playground.  If the offender is convicted under this law, they shall be punishable by the following additional punishments:
  • Imprisonment in the state prison for not less than 2.5 years, but no more than fifteen years, or
  • Imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for 2-2.5 years,
  • A fine of not less than one thousand nor more than ten thousand dollars may be imposed but not in lieu of the prison sentence.
Experienced Massachusetts Drug Crimes Defense Attorney
The United States and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts take crimes involving drugs very seriously. Furthermore, crimes involving the distribution, manufacturing, or dispensing of drugs are considered even more dangerous and prosecuted to the utmost extent because crimes of this nature involve the safety of the community at large. If you are charged with drug crimes such as possession, possession with intent to distribute, distribution or trafficking of illegal drugs or narcotics, it is crucial that you obtain the best legal counsel to defend you and protect your rights. The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy has 18 years of successful experience defending clients facing a wide variety of drug charges. Attorney Murphy is a highly resourceful and intelligent Boston-area drug crimes attorney who has built a successful and reputable career providing a strong and calculated defense strategy for his clients. Contact The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy now for a free and confidential assessment of your drug case by calling 617-367-0450 or submitting the completed contact form on our website.


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