Class A Drugs - Heroin, Morphine, GHB, and Special K
Over the past few years, Massachusetts has experienced an alarming increase in the use of Class A drugs. Heroin use, in particular, has become increasingly widespread throughout the Commonwealth, and in several other states. The problem has become so severe that in April of 2014, Governor Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency with respect to heroin and opioid addiction in Massachusetts. Over a four month span from November 2013 to February 2014, 185 people died from heroin overdose in Massachusetts, not including Boston, Springfield, or Worcester, and, according to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, the heroin overdose rate in Boston saw an 11-year high for fiscal year 2012. The effect of the public health emergency declaration was to dedicate $20 million in government funding for addiction and recovery services.
Still, figures from early 2015 show no drop in heroin overdoses and deaths. Just a few weeks ago, a large-scale heroin ring was uncovered that distributed drugs from Lawrence, Massachusetts, through Salem, and up to New Hampshire. Eight individuals were arrested in connection with the organization, and, according to police reports, hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of heroin was recovered.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 94C contains the Commonwealth’s Controlled Substances Act. Section 31 of the Act classifies all controlled substances into various categories, known as “classes”. These categories are used to differentiate between crimes involving different types of drugs and punish offenders according to the dangerousness of the drugs involved in a given offense. The categories range from Class A drugs, which are generally the most dangerous drugs, to Class E, which are the least dangerous.
Drugs are classified based on several factors, including the drug’s potential for abuse, scientific evidence regarding the drug’s pharmacological effect, the drug’s history and current pattern of abuse, any risk posed to the public health by the drug, and the drug’s psychological dependence liability.
Class A drugs include heroin and morphine, and other drugs often referred to as “designer drugs.” Section 32 of the Controlled Substances Act governs offenses involving Class A drugs. The Act prohibits the manufacture, distribution, dispensing, and possession of Class A substances. These offenses carry a penalty of up to 10 years in state prison, or up to 2.5 years in the house of correction, and a fine between $1,000 and $10,000, or both. For second and subsequent Class A offenses, the sentence increases to at least 3.5 years and a fine of at least $2,500. The Act provides for the possibility of parole after serving one-half of the maximum sentence term, unless the drug offense involved violent acts, or a firearm.
In order to convict a defendant of any Class A drug offense, the government must prove that the drugs in question are actually a Class A drug. Thus, if the defendant is charged with possession of heroin, the prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the drugs found on the defendant are, in fact, heroin. Usually, this requires the prosecutor to have the drugs tested at a state drug lab. Backlogs at state drug labs often result in these offenses takes years to prosecute.
Class A drug offenses are extremely serious. Not only is the drug industry heavily regulated by state police, but any drugs that cross state lines can be prosecuted as federal offenses. In those cases, the federal sentencing guidelines impose even stiffer penalties on individuals convicted of federal drug crimes.
If you have been charged with a Class A drug offense, contact the drug crimes defense attorneys at the law firm of Altman & Altman as soon as possible. Although drug crimes are serious, they are defendable. In almost every drug case, the police need to conduct a search of a person or location, and a seizure of the drugs in question. In doing so, there are very specific procedures the police must follow to avoid violating a suspect’s constitutional rights. In many cases, the police break these rules and cannot use any evidence found through that violation against the suspect in court. At Altman & Altman, our expert Massachusetts drug crimes defense attorneys investigate each case we receive with an eye towards uncovering police errors and exposing violations of our clients’ rights.
Our firm has the knowledge, experience, and resources to defend both state and federal drug offenses, and we will work tirelessly to get the best result possible in your case. Our dedication to our clients in unparalleled; we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer our clients’ questions and address their needs. Call us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your rights and options for defending against drug crimes charges.