Possession of a Controlled Substance in Massachusetts

While not considered as serious as trafficking, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute, simple possession charges can seriously impact an individual’s life, both personally and professionally. A conviction for possession of a controlled substance may result in exclusion from certain professional licenses and prevent the offender from obtaining a license to carry (LTC) a firearm / gun.

With the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts, it is no longer a crime to possess less than one ounce of marijuana (a Class D controlled substance) resulting in a sharp decline in possession of marijuana charges throughout the Commonwealth. However, possession of Class B (i.e., cocaine, crack) and possession of Class A (i.e., heroin, fentanyl) charges are regularly prosecuted in district courts across the state.

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 94C Section 34

In order to prove a defendant guilty of the crime of possession of controlled substance, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The substance in question is a controlled substance;
  • The defendant possessed a detectable amount of the controlled substance; and
  • The defendant possessed the substance knowingly and intentionally.

To establish “possession,” the prosecution must prove the defendant knowingly and intentionally possessed the controlled substance, either physically on his/her person or constructively. To prove “constructive possession,” the prosecution must show the defendant had knowledge of the substance and both the ability and intent to exercise control over it.

Maximum Penalties for Possession Charges

Generally, a conviction for possession of a controlled substance carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail / house of correction and/or a fine up to $1,000. However, certain exceptions apply for possession of heroin or fentanyl, possession of marijuana , and possession of Class E controlled substances.

Possession of Class A:

Although simple possession charges are misdemeanors and the maximum penalty is generally one year in jail, possession of Class A heroin and fentanyl carry a potential penalty of 2 years jail and a $2,000 fine.

A second or subsequent offense for possession of heroin or fentanyl is a felony and carries a maximum penalty of 5 years state prison and a $5,000 fine.

Possession of Class B

(cocaine, crack, oxycodone, amphetamine, methamphetamine):

  • 1 year jail
  • $1,000 fine

Second or subsequent offense (Class B)
Second or subsequent offense (Class C)

  • 2 years jail
  • $2,000 fine

Lead attorney at Riccio Law, Anthony R. Riccio, has successfully represented a number of defendants in Massachusetts on drug charges ranging from simple possession to trafficking fentanyl. With his extensive knowledge of Massachusetts drug laws and prior experience as a prosecutor, Attorney Riccio aggressively defends his clients against drug charges.

Possession of Class C:

Don’t take a chance and represent yourself on simple possession charges. If you’ve been charged with possession of a controlled substance in Massachusetts, contact Riccio Law, LLC here or call (508) 226-4500 to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Massachusetts drug lawyer.

  • 1 year jail
  • $1,000 fine
  • 2 years jail
  • $2,000 fine

Possession of Over 1 Ounce of Marijuana (Class D) or Class E:

  • 6 months jail
  • $500 fine

Contact Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney