Drug Possession with Intent to Sell & Drug Manufacturing
Drug possession with the intent to sell, also known as drug trafficking, is one of the most serious drug crimes in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Governed by Massachusetts General Law Chapter 94C, section 32E, drug trafficking encompasses both the actual distribution of drugs, and the possession of drugs with the intent to distribute. This means that an individual can be convicted of drug trafficking for merely possessing drugs, without ever actually selling them, if the prosecutor can prove that the individual had an intent to sell those drugs at some point in the future. The ability to convict an individual of actual drug trafficking solely for having a plan to distribute drugs in the future shows how seriously the Legislature takes drug offenses, and its objective of attacking the illegal drug industry from all angles.
To secure a conviction for drug possession with the intent to sell, the prosecutor must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:
First, the prosecutor must prove that the drugs in question are of the character alleged. This means that if the prosecutor charges the defendant with trafficking a Class A substance, for example heroin, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the substance taken from the defendant or found in his possession was in fact heroin.
Second, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant possessed that substance with the intent to distribute it. Distribution simply means to deliver to another individual. It does not matter whether the defendant receive payment or anything of value in exchange for the drugs. The intent to distribute is usually proven circumstantially, meaning it is inferred from the specific facts of the case. The jury considers things like how large a quantity of drugs the defendant possessed. If the defendant possessed an extremely large amount of a drug, the just can infer that the defendant did not plan to use all of it himself and, rather, had an intent to distribute some or all of it. Similarly, the jury can consider how pure in quality the drugs were, the defendant’s financial resources, how the drugs were packaged, whether other items were found along with the drugs which might suggest an intent to sell or distribute the drugs (for example a list of names, cash, packaging materials, etc.), any evidence suggesting a sale of drugs was in progress, and the defendant’s location when he was found with the drugs (for example, a place known for high drug activity).
Third, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant possessed the drugs knowingly. This means that the defendant actually knew the drugs were in his possession. An individual cannot be convicted if he possessed the drugs by mistake or without being aware that he did so.
Sentence ranges for drug trafficking depend on what drug you are convicted of trafficking, and in what amount. Trafficking in marijuana is considered a Class D felony and carries between 2.5 and 15 years in prison, depending on the amount. Trafficking in cocaine is a Class B felony and the sentence ranges from 5 to 20 years in prison depending on the amount. Trafficking in heroin is a Class A felony, with a sentence range from a five year mandatory minimum to 20 years in prison.
Moreover, if there is evidence suggesting that a defendant had an intent to sell drugs across state lines, he can be charged under federal drug trafficking laws. This means that the Department of Justice will investigate and prosecute the case, and, if convicted, a sentence will be determined using the federal sentencing guidelines. Sentences for federal drug trafficking violations are usually much higher than for state convictions.
With such high stakes, drug trafficking charges should only be handled by an expert drug crimes defense attorney who will hold the government to its burden of proof, and who will force the prosecutor to produce drug certificates from drug labs in a timely manner, will challenge the search and seizure of the drugs under the Fourth Amendment through a motion to suppress, and will require the prosecutor to prove that the defendant actually knew he possessed the drugs in question.
At the law firm of Altman & Altman, our experienced Massachusetts drug trafficking defense attorneys have been defending against state and federal drug charges for over 40 years. We know that our clients need bold and creative strategies, and forceful advocates in court. Our lawyers will stand by your side throughout the entire criminal process. You will receive thoughtful guidance at every step of the way, and your lawyer will be available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call our office today to schedule a free and confidential case consultation.