In Massachusetts there is a major difference between possession of drugs and possession with the intent to distribute drugs. With the exception of marijuana possession with the intent to distribute drugs is a felony. Law enforcement can be aggressive by charging people with drug felonies at times when only possession of the substance should be charged. Frequently people charged with Massachusetts drug felonies retain me to fight the charges claiming they possessed the drug for personal use and never intended to distribute the substance. This is common and has prompted me to write on the difference between possession and possession with intent to distribute drugs in Massachusetts.
Just a couple of weeks ago the owner of a two family home in Amesbury, Massachusetts saw some “strange equipment inside a common area” of the property. Consequently, she called the police. They quickly obtained a search warrant and notified members of the DEA. The search warrant was executed and authorities found materials used to manufacture crystal meth and GHB. No suspects have yet been arrested. This post examines what can happen to the suspects when they are arrested, how the prosecution will try to prove its case and some defenses to the potential charges. Continue reading →
Massachusetts Rule of Criminal Procedure 14 mandates that the district attorney surrender to the defense virtually everything in its custody or control that is at all relevant to the case. The rule lays out some specific items that fall within its purview however case law is clear that the list is not exhaustive. The list includes statements made by the accused whether or not those statements were recorded. Grand jury minutes and statements of witnesses must be provided. A list of civilian witnesses, law enforcement personnel and expert witnesses must be surrendered. All documents generated and evidence obtained must be given to the defense in a timely manner. Identification procedures must be disclosed. All promises or inducements made to witnesses need to be articulated to the defense as well. Finally, there is a catchall phrase that “any facts of an exculpatory nature” have to be turned over. When prosecutors fail to turn over discovery in criminal cases there can be consequences, some of which are explored below. Continue reading →
This past weekend police in Amesbury, Massachusetts executed a search warrant at a home in a quiet residential neighborhood. At home during the raid, and charged with various drug crimes were Christopher Doty and Kristen Cataldo, both in their mid twenties. The search warrant was issued after police had obtained information regarding drug activity in the home. The information apparently came from informants and possibly a sustained surveillance or controlled drug buys. The defendants have been charged with an assortment of crimes including possession with the intent to distribute class A and class B drugs, assault and battery on a police officer, child endangerment and possession of a dangerous weapon.
A local drug task force involving federal authorities, local cops and the state police resulted in significant charges for four Boston natives. Local reports state that two days ago, detectives armed with a search warrant entered a warehouse in an industrial park in Avon, Massachusetts. Pallets inside of the warehouse containing corn also contained over 1,000 pounds of marijuana. In addition to finding drugs the police also found two loaded firearms. Four people were arrested and charged with trafficking marijuana and possession of a handgun. The defendants have been identified as Sheena Hamilton, Jett Ezidi, Donnelly Ray and Stephan Durrant. Bails ranged from seven thousand five hundred dollars to twenty five thousand dollars.
According to an article in the Boston Globe police in Andover, Massachusetts made three arrests following an investigation into drug trafficking activities in the suburban Boston town. Joselin Eliezar Reina-Mercedes, Luz Made and Luis Hiciano were present at Hiciano’s apartment when an early morning search warrant was executed. Pursuant to the search officers found over 100 grams of heroin. Hiciano was charged with gun possession as well. If convicted the defendants face a minimum mandatory ten year state prison sentence. This Andover drug trafficking investigation is one of several in this town this year. Continue reading →
Not unlike most Sundays I woke up yesterday to several find messages on my cell phone from perspective clients who are in need of criminal legal representation in court today. Someone needed a lawyer for a domestic assault and battery case out of Lowell. Another person wanted to hire me for a cocaine possession charge out of Plymouth. Someone else needs help for an OUI arrest from Saturday night in Woburn. This is all typical for a Sunday morning. There was however something unusual my answering service sent me. A client who was served with a restraining order ten days ago has a hearing in Lynn District Court tomorrow. This prompted me to blog about why waiting until the last minute to hire a criminal lawyer is not a good idea.
Cocaine labs are rare in Massachusetts. By the time the drug makes it into the Commonwealth it has already been processed and often diluted with cutting agents. Large scale cocaine production efforts are typically performed in the countries where the drug originates, usually Colombia and Bolivia. Thus, we almost never see cocaine manufacturing charges here. Rather, possession, possession with intent, distribution and trafficking are the cocaine related crimes most frequently prosecuted. So it was quite surprising to pick up a newspaper and see that local police find a cocaine lab and arrest a 51 year old man. Continue reading →
Prosecutors in Massachusetts can understand that sometimes the lines between simple possession of drugs and possession with the intent to distribute drugs are blurred. Oftentimes those cases, if initially charged as “intent to distribute” cases will be reduced to simple possession. This usually occurs when the defense attorney convinces the district attorney that the defendant had a drug habit that consistent with the quantity of drugs found. Similarly, some drug trafficking cases are at times reduced to possession with intent cases when the quantity barely makes the trafficking threshold. Rarely however are trafficking cases broken down to possession cases. However, this is not necessarily always consistent with the interests. There are times when a drug trafficking charge should be reduced to a drug possession charge. Continue reading →
Reading today’s Brockton Enterprise an article about certain Massachusetts drug crimes caught my eye. Three people, Jose, Evangelina and Kyle Rocha of Taunton were arrested after police charged them with secreting drugs in a condom and placing it in a housing complex where a prisoner on work detail was supposed to be cleaning. Police saw the suspects enter the housing development, enter a building and exit shortly thereafter. The officers searched a bathroom in that building and found the drugs. All three defendants have been charged with possession of drugs, drug conspiracy and conspiracy to deliver drugs to a prisoner. This article examines what happens if you smuggle drugs into a Massachusetts prison.