Faced w/Drug Charges-What to Do? by Criminal Attorney Shane Surrette

What to do When Faced With Drug Charges Today in Light of the

State Drug Lab Scandal

If you are facing drug charges today, you may feel that the deck is stacked against you. Not only are there mandatory minimum sentences, but there are also enhanced penalties based on drug weight, according to criminal attorney Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA. For example, if you are in possession under the law of 18-36 grams of cocaine, this is sufficient weight for trafficking, calling for a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 2 years.

Possessing anything less than 18 grams of cocaine would be insufficient for trafficking and would likely subject you to an allegation of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.  Depending on the particular subsection you are charged under, this could call for either a mandatory minimum sentence of one year incarceration or no mandatory minimum sentence at all.

The differences referenced above are obviously significant, and with recent allegations that a chemist at the Massachusetts crime lab was not even testing substances, and was making substances test positive for drugs when drugs weren’t even present,  your confidence in the judicial system may be compromised.

As a result, it is important for you to hire a Worcester Criminal Drug Lawyer who is going to challenge the Commonwealth’s testing procedures, and all quality assurance procedures to make sure that your rights are scrupulously protected.  Don’t hesitate, you future depends on it.

NEW MASSACHUSETTS DRUG LAWS, by Defense Lawyer Shane W. Surrette

Under the new three strikes legislation that has recently been passed in Massachusetts, there have been changes to the drug laws.  Notably, the minimum weights for trafficking in cocaine, heroin, and marijuana have changed. Formerly, possession of 14 grams of cocaine, but less than 28 was considered trafficking, with a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years to state prison, according to criminal defense lawyer Shane W. Surrette.

With the passage of the three strikes legislation, possession of 18 grams of cocaine is the minimum trafficking weight for cocaine, with between 18-36 grams calling for a mandatory prison sentence of 2 years.

Similarly, the minimum amounts necessary for heroin trafficking charges have been increased. Previously, possession of at least 14 grams of heroin was necessary to support a trafficking charge, but with the new legislation, 18 grams is now necessary to support such a charge. Trafficking in heroin between 18-36 grams will provide a prison sentence of at least 3.5 years, which is down from the 5 year minimum mandatory sentence that the statute previously called for.

Furthermore, the minimum amount necessary to be charged with trafficking in marijuana has been upgraded from 50 lbs. to 100-2,000 lbs.  The minimum mandatory sentence has also been downgraded from 3 years to 2 years. As a result, it is important to make sure that you hire the Worcester Drug Lawyer with experience in these cases to fight for your rights.

For more information, contact Attorney Surrette below:

Field Sobriety Tests: What Police Look For-Advice from DUI Attorneys

When stopped after consuming alcohol, you are not required to perform field sobriety tests upon the request of the police in Massachusetts. DUI attorneys across the state will advise you of this right. If you do elect to take the field sobriety tests, there are a variety of tests the police can ask you to perform. Two standardized tests that are the most commonly used in Massachusetts are the nine-step walk and turn test, and the one-leg stand test.

The nine-step walk and turn test is simply where you are asked to walk nine steps in a straight line, heel to toe, turn around, and walk nine steps back. The police are trained to look for eight clues in this test. These include: balancing during instructions, starting on time, walking heel to toe, stepping off line, whether you use your arms for balance, whether you turn correctly, whether you take the correct number of steps, and whether you stop while walking. 

The one-leg stand test is a coordination test that requires the performer to raise the leg of his/her choosing at least six inches off the ground, with the toe pointed forward, counting by one-thousands, until you reach thirty-one-thousand, or until the officer stops the test. The police are trained to look for four clues in this test.  These include: whether the individual sways while performing the test, whether arms are used for balance, whether the foot is placed on the ground before the test finishes, and whether the test subject hops.

While these tests are based on objective criteria, whether or not someone passes or fails either test depends on subjective interpretations. For instance, if you pass five of the eight clues on the nine-step walk and turn test, does this mean that you passed? Failed? Does it mean you are under the influence? These are all questions that a jury will be faced with, and you should hire experienced DUI attorneys to present your performance on these tests in the best light.

To contact an experience criminal defense attorney, contact Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA below:

Search Warrants: A Breakdown by MA Criminal Defense Attorney

When the Police Come to Search the Home for Drugs

            When a search warrant for drugs is issued for the home under Massachusetts law, the police have no longer than seven days to conduct the search. In most instances the police will conduct the search either the same day that the warrant is issued, or the following day. When the police come to the home, you can be certain that they are going to search the entirety of the residence, according to criminal defense attorney Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA.

With this in mind, just because a search warrant is issued and the police find evidence of drugs and drug distribution, this doesn’t mean that the warrant was valid in the first place.  For instance, the warrant must state with particularity the exact premises to be searched, and if there are any ambiguities in the listing of the residence to be searched, any such discrepancy should be resolved in favor of evidence suppression.

Similarly, if the warrant is based on controlled buys by a confidential informant, the warrant affidavit and application must specify some of the informant’s basis of knowledge that drugs and distribution materials are in the residence, as well as the informant’s reliability. Basis of knowledge is typically shown where the informant can describe that he/she has been in the residence and has seen drugs and has purchased drugs in the residence.

Reliability of the informant is often shown by the informant’s track record of providing information that has led to charges and convictions in other cases. If, however, basis of knowledge and reliability are lacking in a particular case, the police may make up for any deficiencies with their own observations that corroborate an informant’s statements.

What is important when charged with a drug offense after the police execute a search warrant for the residence is not to panic, and to contact a Worcester Criminal Defense Attorney with experience handling drug offenses.

For more information, contact Attorney Surrette at the link below:

Assault & Battery Charges, by Worcester Criminal Defense Lawyer

CAN THE STATE STILL MOVE FORWARD ON AN ASSAULT AND BATTERY CHARGE EVEN THOUGH THE ALLEGED VICTIM DOESN’T WISH TO PROCEED?

Often times when someone is charged with a criminal assault and battery, the first question they ask is whether the Commonwealth will dismiss the case because the alleged victim doesn’t wish to pursue the charges. The answer to this question doesn’t begin and end with the desires of the alleged victim however, according to Worcester criminal defense lawyer Shane W. Surrette.

The Commonwealth will look past the desires of the alleged victim in many instances to see if there is any independent evidence to prove the charge. Such evidence might include, whether there were other witnesses to the allegations forming the basis of the charge/indictment, or whether there were statements made to law enforcement or private citizens that might qualify as statements within a recognized hearsay exception.

Also, the government will often look to whether or not the alleged victim received hospitalization and made statements to hospital personnel, or whether any purported injuries were photographed. Similarly, if the alleged victim doesn’t wish to pursue the charges, the Commonwealth will look to see if the complainant has a privilege not to testify in the underlying matter, which would prohibit the Commonwealth from forcing the alleged victim to testify.

The privileges most commonly encountered in assault and battery cases are the marital privilege and the privilege under the 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution not to incriminate oneself. It is important to note when speaking of privilege law that there is no privilege not to testify for those cohabitating as a couple, but not married.

As a result, in an assault and battery case, the government will look at many factors and all the evidence they have in making a decision whether to prosecute. Just because the alleged victim wants the case dismissed doesn’t mean that it will be. So do the right thing and go into such a proceeding with a Worcester criminal defense lawyer.

To find out more information, contact attorney Surrette at the link below:

Possessing Drugs-by Criminal Defense Lawyer Shane W. Surrette

What Does it Mean to Possess Drugs Under the Law

Police will often bring drug possession charges without ever finding drugs on the person of the individual charged, according to criminal defense lawyer Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA.  This can result in confusion if you are faced with such a scenario.  The obvious initial reaction is how can they charge me with possession of drugs when I never actually physically possessed the drugs?

The answer to that question, however, is not as simple.

Possession under Massachusetts law doesn’t include just what you have in your pockets or in your wallet, but it also includes any item that you have knowledge of coupled with the ability and intent to exercise control over.  This means, for example, if you are driving a motor vehicle with a passenger in the front seat, and drugs are found in open view in the center console, an argument can be made that both you and the passenger possessed the drugs. 

Often times the police will charge both occupants of the vehicle with possession of the drugs in such circumstances, unless one individual claims ownership of the item(s).  Such a charge against both occupants can stand because joint possession of the same item is allowed under Massachusetts law.

While it may not seem fair for the government to proceed against someone on a theory of, “I can’t prove who actually physically possessed the item, so I will charge both because they both probably had knowledge of and some control of the item,” it is important to focus not on the unfairness, but on the strength of the government’s case.

For instance, even though the government has charged you with possession in the constructive sense, there may not be any additional evidence tying you to the drugs beyond your proximity.  This is not enough under the law, and as a result you should hire a Worcester Criminal Lawyer who will fight for you and who will scrutinize the Commonwealth’s case when they prosecute based on assumptions.

For more information, contact criminal defense lawyer Shane Surrette at the link below:

Is Marijuana Really Legal? Advice from Worcester Criminal Lawyer

Does the DeCriminalization of One Ounce or Less of Marijuana Encourage the Police to Bring Possession With Intent to Distribute Charges

Within the last few years, the legislature has passed marijuana legislation which de-criminalizes the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. This means that it still isn’t legal to possess an ounce or less of marijuana, however, if the police catch an individual with an ounce or less, the penalty is a civil infraction similar to a speeding ticket.

This marijuana law, however, has no impact on those possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute the same, according to Worcester criminal lawyer Shane W. Surrette. When determining whether a particular case involves simple possession or possession with intent to distribute, courts will look at many factors. Some factors in support of intent to distribute include: presence of packaging materials, high amounts of money, scales, various cell phones, and whether the drugs are in separate packages, ready to distribute. 

With this in mind, if the police are in a situation where they find less than an ounce of marijuana within someone’s possession, yet they find that the marijuana is individually wrapped in several different bags, do these facts more closely resemble possession with intent to distribute or merely possession of marijuana? Similarly, since the factors listed above in support of intent to distribute don’t have to be present in every case, and since the police may proceed on an intent to distribute theory based on the packaging of the marijuana alone, does an intent to distribute charge seem fair if you have under an ounce of marijuana individually packaged?

As a result, what is going to be the dividing line between possession v. possession with intent to distribute marijuana. When in doubt, will the police just bring the criminal charge of possession with intent to distribute, and let the courts sort it all out?

Whatever the choice may be, the decriminalization of marijuana law seems to provide an incentive for law enforcement to upgrade their charges to possession with intent to distribute, whenever an ounce or less of marijuana is present.

What Police Look for When Stopping for OUI, by Worcester DUI Attorney

What the Police are Looking for When You are Stopped for OUI

When you are stopped after consuming any amount of alcohol, you are undoubtedly going to be nervous. You will begin to wonder what the police officer is looking for in making a decision to arrest for OUI. What you may not consider is that the officer has already made crucial observations about your operation of the motor vehicle, according to Worcester dui attorney Shane W. Surrette.

For example, if it is reported that you were speeding, and that was the only basis of the stop, such a simple reason to stop the vehicle provides a significant amount of Operating Under the Influence information. Consider, for instance, the situation where the officer has been following a motor vehicle for one-half mile, and he stops the vehicle for excessive speed only.

We now can infer, and the officer will have to agree that the motor vehicle stayed within its lane of travel, the vehicle never swerved, it didn’t enter the breakdown lane, and it didn’t come close to hitting anything. Similarly, the vehicle clearly stopped at an appropriate time, otherwise there would likely be a charge for failure to stop for police.

Furthermore, the officer will be looking for how you turn to the side of the road in making a decision to arrest for OUI. For example, did the vehicle abruptly stop with the operator slamming on the brakes, and did the vehicle stop at an angle or straight off the side of the road. The main question at this stage of the vehicle stop is, “whether there was anything unusual about the way the vehicle stopped on the side of the road.

As a result, before the officer ever has a conversation with a motor vehicle operator who is driving after consuming any amount of alcohol, he/she has already made numerous observations which will impact an OUI decision.

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