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Drug Trafficking - Fentanyl

When a traffic stop of your vehicle leads to serious criminal charges such as trafficking in narcotics, a wide array of defenses could be available to your case. In December of 2018, a man was pulled over by law enforcement on Interstate 90 in Auburn. That traffic stop lead to charges of trafficking in the opiates fentanyl and heroin. Constitutional claims such as the legality of the traffic stop, or the search of the vehicle without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, can often effectively defend against these charges. Contact DelSignore Law today to discuss the defenses available to your case

Trafficking Offense Generally

Drug trafficking in opiates (heroin, morphine, opium) offenses in Massachusetts are governed by Massachusetts General Law Chapter 94C Controlled Substances Act, Section 32E(c), 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 heroin or any salt thereof, a controlled substance defined in paragraph (d) of Class A of section 31, morphine or any salt thereof, opium or any derivative thereof or a net weight of 18 grams or more of any mixture containing heroin or any salt thereof, a controlled substance defined in paragraph (d) of Class A of section 31, morphine or any salt thereof, opium or any derivative thereof shall, if the net weight of heroin or any salt thereof, a controlled substance defined in paragraph (d) of Class A of section 31, morphine or any salt thereof, opium or any derivative thereof or any mixture thereof …”

In addition, Massachusetts law at M.G.L.A. 94C § 32E(C ½) and (C ¾) criminalizes trafficking in the opiates fentanyl and carfentanil, respectively. Fentanyl and carfentanil are extremely potent substances, and a conviction for trafficking in either of these carries a mandatory minimum penalty distinct from those mandated for the opiates heroin, morphine or opium.

A trafficking in opiates offense arises when an individual possesses the opiate with the intent to distribute, and the amount of the opiate 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 opiate in question. Drug trafficking offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences of incarceration depending on the weight of the opiate.

Mandatory Penalties For Drug Trafficking In Opiates

AMOUNT OF OPIATE

(heroin, morphine, opium)

MANDATORY PENALTY

18 grams to 35 grams

Incarceration 3 ½ years to 30 years

Fine $5,000 to $50,000

36 grams to 99 grams

Incarceration 5 years to 30 years

Fine $5,000 to $50,000

100 grams to 199 grams

Incarceration 8 years to 30 years

Fine $10,000 to $100,000

200 grams or more

Incarceration 12 years to 30 years

Fine $50,000 to $500,000


AMOUNT OF OPIATE

(fentanyl)

MANDATORY PENALTY

10 grams or more

Incarceration 3 ½ years to 20 years


AMOUNT OF OPIATE

(carfentanil)

MANDATORY PENALTY

any amount

Incarceration 3 ½ years to 20 years


Elements Of The Offense

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).

In order to be found guilty of trafficking in carfentanil when the substance trafficked is a mixture containing carfentanil or a derivative of carfentanil, the defendant must have had specific knowledge that the mixture contained carfentanil or any derivative of carfentanil. See M.G.L.A. 94C § 32E(C ¾).

Elements Needed To Convict For Drug Trafficking in Opiates

1. The defendant knowingly or intentionally (i.e. not ignorantly or accidentally),

2. possessed the opiate, either actual possession (meaning the defendant had exclusive or

joint power and control over the opiate) OR constructive possession (meaning the

defendant had knowledge coupled with the ability and intent to exercise possession of

the opiate),

3. the amount of opiate possessed is sufficiently great (see above chart for weight of

the opiate needed for a trafficking offense), and

4. the defendant possessed the opiate with the intent to distribute it to another (i.e. the

possession was not for personal use).


Defenses To A Charge Of Trafficking In Opiates

As the penalties for a conviction of trafficking in opiates 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 opiates 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 the opiate, 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 opiates, through a plea negotiation, your defense attorney could persuade the prosecution to amend your offense to trafficking 199 grams of opiates, thereby reducing your penalties to a lower mandatory minimum sentence.

You can learn more about defenses available to your case and search and seizure issues commonly found in drug cases on our website today.

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.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
Michael was very professional and explained the process clearly and told us to be patient. After one year the charges got dismissed in the trial. Excellent knowledge of the court systems in the area of Boston. Would highly recommend him Ashwani
★★★★★
A careless decision on my part left me facing charges which would have severely hampered my ability to stay employed and support myself. But attorney DelSignore's skillful analysis and challenging of the evidence against me resulted in a conviction on a lesser charge. Now I'll be able to go on with my life, having learned a lesson I'll never forget. Thank you, Michael. Scott
★★★★★
Mike stuck with my case for 3.5 years and always kept me informed regarding the status. Ultimately, because of his due diligence, we ended up with an OUI not guilty verdict. This case could have gone many ways but his thorough review of the case and exceptional preparedness for trial ultimately drove a positive outcome. Thank you Mike! David
★★★★★
Michael DelSignore did an amazing job with my case! Either him or his partner Julie was always available to answer any questions I had and helped walked me through the entire process. I could not have done it without them! I highly recommend choosing this law firm to deal with your legal needs, you will not be dissatisfied. Ashley
★★★★★
I cannot express the gratitude towards both Michael and Julie for their amazing work and help. It was a very stressful event and they certainly put me at as much ease as possible. From start to finish it took 14 months and all the way through they were both very engaged with me. Today was worth the wait, Michael was great in court and I was rightfully found not guilty. I would recommend Michael and Julie over and over again. Claire
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