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Middlesex County Drug Trafficking Attorney

If you are found guilty of drug trafficking, you will likely receive a lengthy mandatory minimum state prison sentence. Depending on the type of drug and its weight, you could receive a mandatory prison sentence of up to 12 years.

With such lengthy mandatory prison terms resulting from guilty findings, it is essential that you have an attorney who understands street level drug trafficking. Attorney Chris Spring is a former prosecutor who has tried and won these cases. Attorney Spring is experienced in dissecting the Commonwealth’s case and aggressively challenging the government’s evidence.

A Former Prosecutor Who Understands Drug Cases

Attorney Spring has tried hundreds of criminal cases, including allegations of drug trafficking. Contact Attorney Spring to schedule a free consultation at your home to discuss the facts of your case and your possible defenses. Attorney Spring accepts cases from the cities and towns of Middlesex, Essex, Suffolk, Worcester, and Norfolk Counties.

Elements of Drug Trafficking

In order to convict a defendant of drug trafficking, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. The defendant distributed (sold or gave) some perceptible amount of a controlled substance to another person or persons, or possessed a perceptible amount of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute the substance to another person or persons;
  2. The defendant did so knowingly or intentionally; and
  3. The drugs exceeded a certain weight. This is the primary factor in sentencing.

Attorney Spring has mounted successful defenses under both the distribution theory (evidence of a transaction) and the intent to distribute theory (circumstantial evidence suggesting an intent to deal the drugs rather than use them personally). He has also successfully defended drug cases on Fourth Amendment grounds relating to search warrants, informants, illegal searches and seizures, and unconstitutional traffic stops.

What Amount Constitutes Trafficking?

Marijuana

  • More than 50 pounds but less than 100 pounds carries a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in county jail.
  • More than 100 pounds but less than 2,000 pounds carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years in state prison.
  • More than 2,000 pounds but less than 10,000 pounds carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years in state prison.
  • More than 10,000 pounds carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 8 years in state prison.

Cocaine

  • Between 18 and 36 grams carries a mandatory minimum of 2 years in state prison.
  • Between 36 and 100 grams carries a mandatory minimum of 3 1/2 years in state prison.
  • Between 100 grams and 200 grams carries a mandatory minimum of 8 years in state prison.
  • Over 200 grams carries a mandatory minimum of 12 years in state prison.

Heroin

  • Between 18 and 36 grams carries a mandatory minimum of 3 1/2 years in state prison.
  • Between 36 and 100 grams carries a mandatory minimum of 5 years in state prison.
  • Between 100 and 200 grams carries a mandatory minimum of 8 years in state prison.
  • Over 200 grams carries a mandatory minimum of 12 years in state prison.

Trafficking in more than 10 grams of Fentanyl results in a 3 1/2 year mandatory minimum state prison sentence.  There are also drug trafficking thresholds for methamphetamine (meth), ecstasy, prescription medications and other controlled substances.

Drug Trafficking Defenses Under A Possession With Intent To Distribute Theory

Motions to suppress are very common in all types of drug cases, including trafficking.  If the cops did not respect the defendant’s constitutional rights in seizing the drugs, Attorney Spring will file a motion to suppress.  When motions to suppress are successful in drug prosecutions, the Commonwealth is often left with no choice but to dismiss the case.

Possession of Drugs with Intent to Distribute or Straight Possession?

When a defendant is caught with drugs and charged with intending to distribute them, he can sometimes use a personal use defense.  If the defendant was intending to use the drugs himself, then he is not guilty of intending to distribute them.  The jury will need to decide what the defendant planned to do with the drugs.  At trial, the assistant district attorney will call a “street level narcotics expert” to testify.  This so-called expert is a drug detective from a local police department, and he will explain the tools of the drug trade to the jurors in an effort to convince them that the defendant is a drug dealer instead of a drug user.  The following evidence is relevant to that question:

Packaging of the Narcotics

Drug dealers typically sell their product in small packages.  The defendant who is caught with 20 small baggies of heroin is more likely to be a dealer than the defendant who is caught with a single larger bag of heroin.  Multiple small bags of drugs is consistent with drug dealing.

Possession of Packaging Materials

If a drug dealer has a large bag of cocaine but wants to reduce it for resale, he will likely need plastic baggies and a digital scale.  If these objects are found in an accused drug dealer’s possession, the prosecutor will tell the jury they are tools of the drug dealing trade.

Possession of Cutting Agents

A cutting agent is an innocent item, such as baking soda, that is mixed with the drug to increase its quantity.  A drug dealer who has 10 grams of cocaine could add five grams of baking soda to increase the weight of the substance to 15 grams.  He can then break down the diluted cocaine into 15 one-gram bags (instead of the original 10) and make a bigger profit.

Possession of Multiple Cell Phones

It’s common for drug dealers to have more than one phone to keep in touch with their clients.  Oftentimes dealers will possess prepaid phones, which are hard for police officers to track.

Possession of Large Quantities of Cash

If a suspected drug dealer is caught with a large amount of cash, the prosecutor will point out that drug dealing is a cash business and drug dealers can be expected to have lots of it.

Ledger Sheets

People who deal drugs need to keep track of their clients like any other business.  If the police find small pieces of paper containing names and numbers, they will assume it’s a drug dealer’s accounting system.

Lack of Paraphernalia

Some drugs (notably heroin) require tools for ingestion.  Heroin is typically cooked on a spoon and then injected into a vein with a hypodermic needle.  Therefore, if an alleged drug dealer possesses needles when he is arrested, he can make a strong argument that he is an addict, not a dealer.

Drug Trafficking Defenses Under A Distribution Theory

The cops often use confidential informants to catch drug dealers.  Confidential informants are usually drug addicts who are arrested on possession charges and want to make a deal with the police to avoid prosecution.  An informant might simply provide information about local drug dealers or he might participate in a controlled drug buy.

  • In a controlled drug buy, the police give money to the informant and watch him buy drugs from the defendant.  It can be powerful evidence of guilt, but in order to use the evidence the prosecutor is required to identify the informant.  The cops hate identifying informants because: (1) they might want to use the informant again; and (2) identifying an informant will put him in danger.  If the prosecutor and the cops refuse to identify the informant, evidence of the controlled buy cannot be used against the defendant in court.
  • A controlled drug buy may also be used by the police to apply for a warrant to search the defendant’s home.  In these cases, there is a strict legal framework the cops need to follow in order to lawfully obtain the warrant.  In cases where the police made mistakes in the warrant application process, Attorney Spring files motions to suppress the drugs.

Cases charging drug trafficking on a distribution theory can be hard to prove.  Even if police officers see the transaction, the buyers almost never come to court to testify.  Without the buyer’s testimony, the facts can be murky.  People engaged in a drug deal are aware they are committing a crime, so the transaction is usually very quick and often takes place in a car, or an alley, or some other place that is partially hidden.  It can be difficult to determine who was selling and who was buying.  Without the buyer’s testimony, distribution cases are often winnable.

Contact Us

Middlesex County drug and gun charges attorney Chris Spring has been trying drug and gun cases in front of Massachusetts juries for his entire career.  Regardless of whether you were charged with carrying a firearm or possession of drugs with intent to distribute, we can help you seek justice. Call him for a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.