Drug Trafficking - Cocaine
Drug trafficking in Massachusetts is a serious crime for which severe penalties are imposed, including mandatory periods of incarceration and major fines. Massachusetts is constantly working to derail drug trafficking operations across the Commonwealth. In 2018, Massachusetts and New Hampshire were jointly awarded nearly $3 million in federal funds to combat drug trafficking. The money, coming from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the Department of Justice, will go towards the Anti-Heroin task force. The Commonwealth’s focus on drug trafficking is also apparent in the legislature. In 2018, a new version of the Massachusetts’ statute criminalizing drug trafficking went into effect. While the new statute decreased the mandatory penalties for trafficking of marijuana, the penalties for certain opiates increased, and an entire new section of the statute was added to include the opiate carfentanil.Trafficking Offense Generally
Drug trafficking in cocaine offenses in Massachusetts are governed by Massachusetts General Law Chapter 94C Controlled Substances Act, Section 32E(b), which defines the offense as:
“knowingly or intentionally manufacturing, distributing or dispensing or possessing with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense or by bringing into the commonwealth a net weight of 18 grams or more of a controlled substance as so defined, or a net weight of 18 grams or more of any mixture containing a controlled substance as so defined…”
A trafficking in cocaine offense arises when an individual possesses cocaine with the intent to distribute, and the amount of cocaine in question is sufficiently great that it rises to the level of trafficking. The difference between receiving a charge of distribution of controlled substances versus a charge of trafficking in controlled substances is merely the weight of the cocaine in question. Drug trafficking offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences of incarceration depending on the weight of the cocaine.Mandatory Penalties for Drug Trafficking In Cocaine
AMOUNT OF COCAINE
18 grams to 35 grams
Incarceration 2 years to 15 years
36 grams to 99 grams
Incarceration 3 ½ years to 20 years
100 grams to 199 grams
Incarceration 8 years to 20 years
200 grams or more
Incarceration 12 years to 20 years
In order to convict a defendant of drug trafficking, the prosecution must prove the defendant knowingly or intentionally possessed, either actually or constructively, the substance and that the defendant intended to distribute a specific amount of the controlled substance. (See Commonwealth v. Roman, 414 Mass. 642, 643–644 (1993).Elements Needed To Convict For Drug Trafficking In Cocaine
|1. The defendant knowingly or intentionally (i.e. not ignorantly or accidentally),|
|2. possessed cocaine, either actual possession (meaning the defendant had exclusive or joint power and control over the cocaine) OR constructive possession (meaning the defendant had knowledge coupled with the ability and intent to exercise possession of the cocaine),|
|3. the amount of cocaine possessed is sufficiently great (see above chart for weight of cocaine needed for a trafficking offense), and|
|4. the defendant possessed the cocaine with the intent to distribute it to another (i.e. the possession was not for personal use).|
As the penalties for a conviction of trafficking in cocaine are severe, it is important that your defense attorney begin your defense as soon as possible.
One possible defense strategy is to file a motion to suppress. Motions to suppress are key to a viable defense at court and can potentially impact what evidence is allowed into your trial. A successful motion to suppress can be critical to an effective defense and can establish facts such as: 1) demonstrating that the search of your person or your home which yielded the cocaine was invalid; 2) the informant used to implicate you was unreliable; or 3) in the event of a traffic stop which led to a finding of cocaine, that the initial traffic stop was invalid.
In addition to the defenses available to your case, it is possible that your criminal charge could be reduced to a lesser level through the process of plea negotiation. For example, if you are charged with trafficking 200 grams of cocaine, through a plea negotiation, your defense attorney could persuade the prosecution to amend your offense to trafficking 199 grams of cocaine, thereby reducing your penalties to a lower mandatory minimum sentence.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts imposes severe penalties on those convicted of trafficking in controlled substances. Therefore, if you are charged with an offense of trafficking in controlled substances, retaining the representation of an experienced criminal attorney who can aggressively begin your defense could be crucial to the successful outcome of your case. The attorneys at delsignoredefense, Michael DelSignore and Julie Guardreau, are ready to fight for you. Please contact our office to request a free consultation and prepare to get your life back on track with a lawyer who helps people every day avoid criminal drug convictions.