In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, being charged with the possession of cocaine is a serious offense. The penalties are strict and will impact you for the rest of your life. In order to fight charges of cocaine possession, it is important to understand the definition of “possession” under the law and determine what defenses may be used.
Two Types of Possession
There are two types of possession that come into play when determining how a person is charged with the possession of cocaine.
Actual possession usually occurs when the cocaine is found on the defendant’s person, meaning they had physical custody of or control over the substance. If, for example, a person had cocaine in a baggie stored in his or her jacket pocket, this might be considered actual possession. However, if the person had borrowed a friend’s jacket and had no knowledge of the cocaine being in the jacket pocket, this may be a sound defense strategy against charges of actual possession.
Constructive possession occurs when the cocaine is found somewhere that the defendant exercises control over. This means that the possession wasn’t hands on, but the defendant had knowledge or should have reasonably had knowledge that the cocaine was there. If, for example, cocaine is found in a person’s gym locker and no one has access to the lock besides the defendant, this could be considered constructive possession. However, if other people had access to that same gym locker, this could potentially be used as a defense.
Penalties for Cocaine Possession in Massachusetts
If you are convicted of possessing cocaine in Massachusetts, you face:
- Up to one year in jail for a first offense
- Up to two years in jail for a second offense
- Mandatory one year driver’s license suspension (which may be abolished by the legislature, soon)
Additionally, you will have a criminal record for the rest of your life, which could make it difficult to obtain a job, own a car, or rent an apartment.
How to Defend Yourself Against Charges of Cocaine Possession
If you were charged with the possession of cocaine, it is critical that you speak with an experienced drug crimes lawyer as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of Tom Kokonowski, Esq., we will thoroughly evaluate the facts of your case, including where the drugs were found, and mount a solid defense on your behalf. Call for a consultation at (413) 585-9200 or (413) 549-0022.