Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Strategies to Defend Against Drug Possession Charges


Law enforcement in Monson recently arrested a woman who described as a “habitual heroin dealer” after she was accused of selling drugs to two people. 

Consequently, the woman was charged with two counts of distribution of heroin as well as conspiracy to violate drug laws. Following the arrest, law enforcement also seized 39 bags of what is believed to be heroin as well as $180 in cash. Bail was set at $25,000 and the woman is currently being held in a Massachusetts correctional center. 

If you have been charged with possession of an illegal drug in Massachusetts, you have several options to proceed. There are a number of defenses that can be raised in response to drug charges. The following will review some of the most common tactics used to defend against drug possession charges.

Failure to Satisfy the Elements of an Offense

One of the most common strategies used to defend against a possession charge is to establish that law enforcement has failed to establish each element of an offense. For example, prosecution must establish that you actually possessed the illegal substance to justify a conviction. 

In addition to arguing that a person did not actually possess an illegal substance, it might also be possible to claim that, based on its chemical composition, a substance was not illegal to possess.

Constitutional Defenses to Drug Possession Charges

The United States Supreme Court case of Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts made it much more difficult to establish the necessary elements for a drug possession charge. 

In this case, the United States Supreme Court held that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts could not rely on affidavits from a chemist claiming that a substance is an illegal narcotic. Instead, the Supreme Court held that the Commonwealth would be required to call the chemist as a witness concerning the substance’s nature. 

To avoid this requirement, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts sometimes attempts to use law enforcement officers to testify to a substance’s illegal nature. 

Avoiding Penalties Associated with Drug Possession Charges

With drug offenses, a skilled defense attorney can often help a person resolve the matter in a way that avoid a criminal conviction. Some of the options that a person might have include the following:

  • CWOF. These involve an admission that a person committed a drug offense, but that the offense will not result in a criminal conviction or loss of a professional license. This is often not the most preferable way to resolve a case.

  • Guilty pleas with probation. If a person has a criminal record, this option can sometimes be the most attractive. 

  • Pretrial probation. In some situations involving drug offense, the district attorney might agree to dismiss a case provided that certain conditions are satisfied. Pretrial probation is advantageous because it does not involve any admission of criminal activity. 

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have questions or concerns about the best tactic to defend against a drug charge, one of the best steps that you can take is to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact attorney Edward R. Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.