Possession of Illegal Substances in Massachusetts

Possession of controlled substances in Massachusetts, under M.G.L. c. 94C, §34, includes harsh penalties for knowingly or intentionally possessing illegal substances including- Heroin, Cocaine, Oxycodone (Oxycontin), Ecstasy and Marijuana. The penalty for possession of drugs is imprisonment for up to one year or a $1,000 fine. However, possession of Heroin, a Class A substance, has a much harsher punishment. Additionally, recent changes to the law in Massachusetts has decriminalized less than one ounce of marijuana, has repealed automatic license suspensions for drug crimes and has made it easier for individuals with a drug crime on their record to get the crime sealed or expunged.

Possession of these illegal substances is a very serious offense and can impact individual’s lives for years to come. It is vital to have an experienced Massachusetts Drug Possession Lawyer- Stephen Neyman, who has over 20 years of experience handling these crimes and knows the recent changes to the drug possession laws, for a successful defense.


In the Commonwealth, knowingly of intentionally possessing a controlled substance carries a penalty of up to one (1) year imprisonment or up to a one thousand ($1,000) dollar fine of both. This includes Possession of Cocaine and various other illegal substances.

Additionally, if the individual is charged with Heroin Possession, a first offense is punishable by up to two (2) years in a house of correction or a $2,000 fine or both.

However, if an individual is charged with possessing more than one ounce (1 oz.) of marijuana and it is their first offense, they face a sentence up of up to 6 months in the house of corrections or a $500 fine of both. Marijuana laws have changes substantially over the past couple years and is on the November 2016 ballot for legalization across the state. For more information about the recent changes and the implications a charge of Marijuana possession can have, visit our Marijuana Possession website.

Punishment for Second Offense Drug Possession

If an individual is charged with possession of drugs (second offense), they face a much more serve penalty than a first offense drug possession charge. The statute in the commonwealth allows a sentence to be imposed for up to two (2) years in a house of correction or a fine of up to two-thousand ($2,000) dollars, or both. This applies to a previous marijuana possession as well, but does not apply to Heroin or Class E substances.

For possession of heroin (second offense) the potential sentence is increase. A person facing possession of heroin, second offense, faces a state prison sentence of two and a half year to 5 years (2 1/2 – 5 year) sentence or a five thousand ($5,000) dollar fine and a jail or house of correction sentence of up to two and a half (2 ½) years. Second Offense Drug Possession charges are taken very seriously in courts around the state and an experienced Boston Drug Possession Attorney knows the different strategies to handle a drug related arrest to get the best results for individuals facing these charges.

Recent Changes to Drug Possession Law

On March 30, 2016, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law an act repealing the automatic license suspension of individuals who were convicted of a drug crime in Massachusetts. The former law, which was enacted in 1989 due to the country’s War on Drugs initiative, allowed for a person’s driving license to be suspended for up to five (5) years and a five hundred ($500) dollar license reinstatement fee. Under the current law, an individual charged with drug possession is not allowed to have their license suspended. This law was aimed to encourage people charged with these crimes to move on with their lives and be able to get a job, which is critical for their re-entry into society and to prevent recidivism. However, it does not eliminate the license suspension for trafficking certain substances.

Additionally, the Drug Possession statute allows for individual to expunge or seal their record in a much easier way than before. If a person has been charged with a first offense drug possession, received a continuance without a finding, or was placed on probation, and successfully completed the terms, the court may dismiss the case and order a seal of all records relating to the arrest, indictment, conviction, continuance or discharge. This is critically important when it comes to job or certain school applications because, under this statute, it allows people to not acknowledge the arrest, indictment, or conviction in response to an inquiry related to these charges. A well respected Drug Possession Attorney in Massachusetts- Stephen Neyman, has dealt with these charges on countless occasions and can work with you or a loved one, from the day of the original charge up through the seal or expungement of the record, so it will not impact your life in the future.

Defending a Possession of Drug Charge

An experienced drug law attorney knows the different strategies to handle a drug related arrest. For first time offenders, a good lawyer can make the difference between a conviction and imprisonment and a court that sentences a term of probation.

When there have been previous arrests and convictions, your attorney must know how to work within the system to minimize charges. Stephen Neyman investigates the arrest to make sure that there were no violations of your constitutional rights. Was the search of your property or person done in a legal and proper way? Did the police officers follow all of the correct rules and guidelines? Or were your rights trampled on, in their haste to make an arrest? Was unnecessary force used when the arrest was made? Did other people accuse you of a crime in order to minimize their own punishment?

Drug Possession Attorney Neyman works closely with clients to help them reconstruct, detail by detail, the circumstances of their arrest, before memory fades and evidence disappears. If you have been arrested and charged with a drug crime, it is vital that you contact Stephen Neyman as soon as possible so that he can begin working to represent you. Call Stephen Neyman at 617-263-6800 immediately or click here to send an email.