There is no specific first time offender program with the exception of a first offense for more than one ounce of marijuana. You are basically guaranteed you’ll receive what they call a Continuation Without a Finding (or CWOF) for six months and then have it expunged from your record as long as you complete your probation successfully. For other offenses there really is not a specific program. There are programs for people who are considered to be drug-addicted. There are several different programs for people who are addicted that can be great alternatives to incarceration.
One such program is called Drug Court, which is for people who are drug-addicted. It is a court-supervised treatment program, and they keep people who are drug-addicted from having to go to jail, as long as they enroll in this court-ordered program, and they are able to participate in a meaningful way.
In addition, a local chief of police has received national recognition for developing his own pilot program that many police departments are starting to copy. Under his program and within his city, if a person is an addict and they seek treatment, they will not be arrested. They will receive assistance to enter a treatment program instead.
These programs are mostly for people who are admitted addicts so that they can obtain treatment versus court involvement and incarceration. There are a number of these programs cropping up in Massachusetts, particularly in response to the heroin death epidemic which has claimed a great many lives recently.
What Are the Drug Paraphernalia Laws in Massachusetts?
Just possessing something that is considered drug paraphernalia is okay, with the exception of a syringe that you do not have a prescription for. There is no simple possession. However, there is a law on the books that talks about it being illegal to sell paraphernalia to people if you have reason to know the item is going to be used to cultivate, store or use drugs. There are enhanced penalties for people who sell such paraphernalia to minors.
What are Some Defenses Utilized in Drug-Related Cases?
There are plenty of ways to defend drug charges. For example, if you are a passenger in a car that is pulled over and you had no knowledge of the drugs because they were in the trunk of your friend’s vehicle, that is one particularly successful defense. The most common defense to drug charges is by challenging the police stop and search of the person, vehicle or home. If the police did not have the required amount of suspicion and evidence to conduct the stop or search, then the police have acted unlawfully. Under such circumstances we would seek to have the judge exclude the evidence found during the search through a motion to suppress evidence. A successful motion to suppress evidence will often result in the charges being dismissed.
Even when the police do apply for a warrant to search someone’s home, car or other place, they often do not have sufficient evidence to get the warrant. Particularly, if the affidavit they file with the warrant does not contain enough information to establish probable cause to believe drugs or other contraband will likely be found in a particular place. Under such circumstances we would seek to have the judge exclude the evidence found during the search through a motion to suppress evidence.
How Often Are You Able to Get Drug-Related Charges Dropped, Dismissed or Reduced?
If we are talking about plea negotiations, it really depends on the person’s particular circumstances, the quantity of drugs they had and whether they’re charged with possession with intent to distribute. If the person is charged with possession with intent to distribute and only had slightly greater that normal amount we can often get the prosecutor to concede that it is just simple possession. It is a common negotiation tactic we would use on charges like that.
What Sets Your Firm Apart in Handling Drug-Related Cases?
I have been doing this for over 19 years. I have focused this portion of the practice on becoming an expert when it comes to search and seizure. We have had great success getting drugs and other evidence thrown out due to the illegal conduct of the police. This type of conduct often includes illegally stopping a person, frisking that person, searching them or their car and/or searching their home. With many drug cases getting that evidence thrown out can end the case. We have a very good team of lawyers here who know how to analyze the evidence, to determine the best defenses and to execute the plan for that defense. Simply put, we have a lot of experience dissecting these cases and taking them to a good resolution.
We’re here to answer your questions and help you throughout the process
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