Is it possible to get drug charges dropped in Massachusetts?

These two defense strategies could lead the prosecution to drop drug charges in Massachusetts.

Those who face drug charges in Massachusetts face serious criminal penalties. If the prosecution builds a successful case, the accused could face financial penalties and prison time. Although the exact penalties will depend on the details of the allegations, some common penalties include a $1,000 fine and up to one-year imprisonment for a relatively minor drug possession charge to a $5,000 fine and five years' imprisonment for repeat offenses.

Massachusetts is particularly strict with penalties for these crimes. For example, the state will apply a mandatory minimum jail term for those who are within 100 feet of a school or playground when charged with possession of a controlled substance.

Due to the state's strict approach to criminal penalties for drug possession crimes, it is wise for anyone facing drug charges to take the allegations seriously. Defensive strategies can result in a reduction or even dismissal of charges. Two strategies to consider include whether or not the material was a controlled substance and whether or not the police followed proper protocol to gather evidence.

Strategy #1: Challenge the claim the substance was illegal.

The prosecution must establish the accused had a controlled, or illegal, substance in their position in order for the criminal charges to apply. This generally requires analysis by a crime lab.

Crime labs make mistakes. The lab may not have properly working tools or may have used a flawed protocol to analyze the substance. This defense strategy involves reviewing the procedure, the lab and the technician who ran the tests to look for a mistake. If successful, the accused can fight the allegation that they had any illegal substance at the time of the charge. As a result, the prosecution would likely have to drop the charges.

Strategy #2: Review the search that led to the charges.

Police generally must make a stop in order to gather evidence to support criminal charges. Federal law requires enforcement officers to follow proper protocol when conducting a stop. A failure to do so can result in a violation of the accused's Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

If the police violated the accused's constitutional rights, the court will consider the evidence "fruit of a poisonous tree." This is a legal term that means the prosecution cannot submit the evidence in court. As a result, the prosecution may not have the evidence it needs to support the charges and the charges may be dropped.

These are just two strategies to consider when facing criminal drug charges. Those who are in this situation are wise to take the allegations seriously. An attorney experienced in these matters can discuss your options and work to better ensure your legal rights are protected.