Police and district attorneys in Massachusetts have a tendency to charge people with crimes that are much more severe than the crime that they believe was actually committed. They are not supposed to do this. They are supposed to charge people solely for the crime they truly believe was perpetrated. The classic example of this is Massachusetts drug cases. Take for instance the case of Andre Jacobs, a twenty year old Stoughton, Massachusetts resident who was approached in his car by the police for a purported motor vehicle infraction. When the police approached him he made some “furtive movements” that led the officers to search. They found five and one half grams of heroin and some cash. Jacobs was charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin. This is a felony in Massachusetts and a very serious one at that. But why was Jacobs charged with possession with intent as opposed to simple possession? The answer is easy. Because that is the larger crime and one that is punished more severely in Massachusetts. This post examines the motives behind criminal charges in Massachusetts, particularly as they relate to drug crimes.
Prosecutors Use More Significant Charges As Leverage To Force Guilty Pleas
There is no doubt in my mind that many prosecutors and police officers charge the accused with the most severe crime, not because they believe that they actually committed that crime but to get them to plead guilty to a crime. Five and one half grams of heroin is for many people a small supply, something that might last a heavy user a day or two. Prosecutors will argue that the manner of packaging; i.e. several small bags, is indicative of an intent to sell. This is not necessarily true. If a heroin user needs five grams he will buy five grams no matter how the drugs are packaged. A proper prosecution will consider the habits of the accused. Does he or she have a history of drug use? Or, is he or she known to deal and not use? People charged with serious offenses often panic and want to resolve their case expeditiously. To do so they are given deals by the prosecution. For example, plead guilty to the felony and we can all agree to probation. This is wrong. If the case is only a possession case then charge possession, not possession with intent. We see this strategy more with cases that involve minimum mandatory sentences such as school zone cases and trafficking cases. In that situation you have to accept a deal unless you want to go to trial and risk going to jail. Again, the defendant panics and pleads guilty to something he did not necessarily do to avoid the risk of incarceration.
A Good Lawyer Can Fix This Problem
Hiring an experience lawyer often corrects this problem. We have demonstrated to countless district attorneys that our client was not intending to sell. We have distinguished our clients from others and convinced juries, judges and prosecutors to acquit or dismiss the more severe charges. Succumbing to these pressures by pleading guilty to something you did not do is not the way to resolve these cases. Call us at 617-263-6800 or send us an email if you want to discuss your case. Not all people in Mr. Jacobs position should have to defend felony charges.