Drug Crimes

Massachusetts law sets out serious penalties for those convicted of drug offenses. From simple possession of illegal substances to trafficking charges, all drug convictions have a potential to have a negative impact on your future. If being investigated or charged with a drug offense, it is important that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Cape Cod Criminal Defense Attorney Matthew Kelley has handled every level of drug case from simple possession to trafficking as both a defense attorney and a prosecutor and has the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve the best outcome available in each specific case.

Types of Drug Crimes

Possession of Illegal Drugs – Possession of illegal drugs is Massachusetts is a criminal offense that can be punished by a range of sentences from fines or probation to jail time in a local House of Correction. All possession charges in Massachusetts are misdemeanors but a conviction for even “simple” possession can have a negative impact on your ability to secure employment, gain admission to college or graduate school, secure housing or travel outside the country. Cocaine, Heroin, Oxycodone and various other types of pills are the most commonly charged possession offenses in Massachusetts.

An individual is deemed to be in possession of an item under Massachusetts law in one of two ways. First, you are considered to be in possession of an item that you are in direct physical control of. For example, the law deems you to be in possession of items currently in your pocket or in your purse. This is often referred to as actual or direct possession. The second way you can be deemed to possess an item in Massachusetts is under a legal theory known as constructive possession. The law considers an individual to constructively possess items that they have knowledge of, the ability to exercise control over and the intent to exercise control over. For example the law considers you to be in possession of items that you keep in your dresser drawer at your house or in a safety deposit box at your bank.

It is not enough to merely be in the vicinity of illegal drugs to be convicted of possession. Even if a person has knowledge, there must be additional evidence to justify a conclusion that the person had knowledge of the illegal drugs coupled with the ability and the intent to exercise control over the drugs. Only if all of those facts are present can a person be convicted of possession of illegal drugs.

Possession with the Intent to Distribute and Distribution – Possession with the Intent to Distribute and Distribution of Illegal Drugs are among the most serious drug offenses in Massachusetts. Both of these charges are felonies that represent a significant step up from the “simple” possession offenses discussed above. Convictions for Possession with the Intent to Distribute or Distribution of Illegal Drugs often results in jail time either in a local House of Correction or in State Prison. Felony convictions for these type offenses are certain to have a negative impact on your future and must be avoided at all costs.

Distribution of drugs means simply that a person actually delivered or sold an illegal drug to another person. It is not necessary that money is exchanged but in the vast majority of situations this is the actual sale of drugs. Distribution is most commonly charged when a person unknowingly makes a sale of drugs to an undercover police officer.

Possession with the Intent to Distribute is a crime that alleges a person possessed illegal drugs in the manner previously described but rather than just holding it solely for personal use the intention was to distribute the drugs to others. The law considers many factors when determining whether a person intended to distribute a drug including; how large a quantity of drugs were possessed, how pure the quality of drugs were, the street value of the drugs, how the drugs were packaged, whether the person had unexplained money, the presence of a cutting material or whether there is any evidence that the person traveled at short intervals to known drug centers.


Trafficking in illegal drugs is the most serious drug offense in Massachusetts. For many substances trafficking is punishable with up to life in the State Prison. Trafficking in Heroin and Cocaine require minimum mandatory State Prison sentences varying in length based on the amount of drugs possessed. A conviction for trafficking will almost always result in significant incarceration, the potential of forfeiture of your money and property to the government, the suspension of your right to operate a Motor Vehicle in Massachusetts and significant probation with life altering conditions imposed on you upon your release from State Prison.

In order to be convicted of Trafficking in Illegal Drugs, the State needs to prove similar elements than those previously described in the Possession with Intent section. The major difference is for a Trafficking charge, the amount of drugs has to exceed a pre-determined statutory amount that differs depending on the substance. Trafficking charges are required to be handled in Superior Court.

If charged with any of the above described drug offenses you need the services of an attorney that has actual experience defending against these charges. Cape Cod Criminal defense attorney Matthew Kelley knows exactly how to defend drug cases in Massachusetts. Whether it filing Motions to Suppress and Dismiss or aggressively representing you at trial, Attorney Kelley will do everything possible to make sure your rights are protected and your case ends with the best outcome available to you. Call today for a free consultation and let Attorney Kelley begin to analyze the best defense in your case.

Client Reviews

Matt knows how to prosecute a case which makes a uniquely valuable advocate. I highly recommend Matt Kelley to anyone in need of legal services.

- Joseph Casey, Retired Probation Officer

"Attorney Kelley shined a light for me during a dark situation. He was thorough and honest and gave me a voice and a confidence in a situation that I couldn't navigate."

- JG, Yarmouth

"I was extremely lucky to meet Matthew Kelley as I was waiting for my arraignment, and would like to offer the highest possible recommendation for him to represent anyone that requires a criminal defense attorney. It was my first time dealing with the legal system- I was completely overwhelmed and...

- L.K., West Barnstable

“Matthew Kelley was consummate professional while handling my case. He was honest and realistic with his vision on how to proceed. I would recommend his services to anyone. “

- JD, East Dennis

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