This post will answer some frequently asked questions on the crime of possession of a controlled substance.
What does the law say on the possession of a controlled substance?
Section 34 of chapter 94C of the General Laws states: “No person knowingly or intentionally shall possess a controlled substance unless such substance was obtained directly [from] or pursuant to a valid prescription or order from, a [licensed] practitioner [who was] acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise [by law].”
In other words, the two following requirements need to be met to legally possess a controlled substance:
- The substance was obtained directly from or pursuant to a valid prescription or order.
- The substance was acquired from a licensed practitioner who was acting in the course of his professional practice or as otherwise allowed to act by the law.
What does the government need to show to prove someone guilty of this crime?
In order to prove the defendant guilty of this offense, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must prove the three following elements of the offense beyond reasonable doubt:
- The substance in question is a controlled substance
- The defendant possessed some perceptible amount of that substance
- The defendant possessed the substance knowingly or intentionally
How does the government prove a substance was possessed knowingly or intentionally?
The Commonwealth proves a substance was possessed knowingly or intentionally if the defendant possessed the substance consciously, voluntarily and purposely, and not because of ignorance, mistake or accident.
What is a certificate of analysis?
A certificate of analysis is an official certification that can be used as evidence of the chemical composition, purity, and weight of a tested substance.
What are acceptable certificates of analysis?
In Massachusetts, a properly executed certificate of analysis can come from any of the following sources (:
- Analyst employed by the Department of Public Health
- A chemist employed by the Department of State Police
- An analyst employed by the University of Massachusetts Medical School
Jurors are not required to accept such evidence, but they may.
What is constructive possession?
Constructive possession implies both of the following conditions:
- Knowledge of possession
- The ability and intention to exercise dominion and control of the substance.
Behavior tending to show that the defendant knew of the presence of drugs is not sufficient, by itself, to prove that he or she had the ability and intent to control the drugs.
What is joint possession?
To be a joint possessor, one must actively and personally participate in the procurement of the drugs.
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH UNLAWFUL POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, AND YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER WORKING ON YOUR SIDE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE CONTACT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILLIAM J. BARABINO.
CALL 781-393-5900 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR AVAILABLE DEFENSES.