Law enforcement in Massachusetts takes drug charges seriously although the state has decriminalized small amounts of marijuana. Cocaine commonly gets treated as a felony, and the penalties can vary.
Drug possession, also known as simple possession, means the defendant has willing and knowing physical possession of illegal drugs. They usually have possession of the drug for personal use and do not intend to sell it. This charge also applies to possessing substances to make Schedule I or Schedule II drugs.
Common sentencing for possession includes a maximum of one year in jail, a maximum $1,000 fine or both. The second offense may result in up to 2.5 years of jail, a maximum $2,000 fine or both, plus the loss of a driving license for one year.
Possession with intent to distribute and drug trafficking
Another possible charge includes possession with the intent to sell or transport legal or illegal substances without licensing. Possession with intent to distribute commonly gets prosecuted as a felony, but the prosecution has to prove that the defendant had intent to sell.
Penalties could include up to a $10,000 fine and 2 to 10 years of state prison. A second offense commonly gets 5 to 15 years in state prison and up to a $15,000 fine. Penalties can increase if the defendant got caught within so many feet of a school, playground or church.
Cocaine trafficking involves the international selling or manufacturing of prohibited substances. A sentence for 28 grams or less may include 3 to 15 years in prison, a maximum $10,000 fine or both.
Getting a cocaine drug charge often carries serious consequences, and penalties increase for each offense. However, mistakes can be made, and drug possession laws change. A defendant has rights to representation from a criminal defense attorney under the law.