Distribution of Drugs and Possession of Drugs With Intent to Distribute

In Massachusetts, distribution or possession with intent to distribute a “controlled substance” – an illegal drug – is a felony, if the substance is class A, B, or C. If the controlled substance is class D or E, the charge is a misdemeanor, but the consequences can still be serious.


Distribution of a Controlled Substance.

The offense of Distribution of a Controlled Substance is just what it sounds like. To charge you, the police have to have probable cause that you took part in a transaction in which you or someone you were partnered with gave or sold an illegal drug, of any amount, to another person. The amount of the drug doesn’t matter – it could be as little as a gram.  

It is not necessary that any money be exchanged, either.  Simply handing a bag, pill, or any other form of a controlled substance to another person is a crime.

Special note on marijuana: despite the recent changes in the laws related to marijuana, which you can see here, you can still be charged and convicted of selling or giving away marijuana if you don’t satisfy very specific conditions. See the conditions under which you can give or sell marijuana here.


Possession of a Controlled Substance With Intent to Distribute.

To charge you with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, the police must have probable cause that you possessed an illegal drug, and that you intended to give or sell it to someone else. They do not have to prove who you intended to sell it to, how much you intended to sell, or when you intended to sell it.

Proving intent.

A person’s intent is his or her purpose or objective. Determining what is in someone’s mind is sometimes very difficult, but jurors are told that they should examine the defendant’s actions and words, and all of the surrounding circumstances, to help them determine what the defendant’s intent was at that time.

Jurors are also instructed that as a general rule, it is reasonable to infer that a person ordinarily
intends the natural and probable consequences of any acts that he does voluntarily or deliberately.

A jury does not have to find that the defendant knew that he was breaking the law, but it is necessary that they find he intended the act to occur which constitutes the offense.

These cases are very fact specific. It would seem difficult to prove what someone intended in their mind to do before they actually did it. However, the prosecution usually relies on circumstantial evidence to prove this charge. Often the evidence that is used to prove an intent to sell is a large amount of controlled substance in your possession (though ti doesn’t have to be a large amount), the presence of scales, large amounts of cash, records of prior sales, multiple cell phones, often “burners”, or baggies or other materials often used to package rugs for sale.

As with any drug charge, the way in which the police found the evidence is of critical importance. If the police discovered evidence after you were illegally pulled over in your car, or came as the result of an illegal search, we will move the Court to suppress the evidence. Same if the police obtain information based on illegal questioning


Penalties for Possession with Intent to Distribute and Distribution of Controlled Substances

Penalties for these offenses often depend upon the amount, or weight, of controlled substances involved in your case.  The penalties listed below are maximums, and any mandatory minimum sentences that apply.


Distribution or possession with intent to distribute class A
 in Massachusetts is a felony.

Under MGL c. 94C s. 32, a conviction for this offense carries up to the following potential penalties:

  • 10 years in state prison
  • $10,000 fine

A second or subsequent offense for possession of class A with intent to distribute is a felony in Massachusetts, with a mandatory minimum state prison sentence of 3 1/2 years, up to the following potential penalties:

  • 15 years in state prison
  • $25,000 fine

Distribution or possession with intent to distribute class B- cocaine, crack or methamphetamine is a felony.

This charge carries a mandatory minimum 1 year jail sentence, up to the following potential penalties:

  • 10 years in state prison
  • $10,000 fine

A second or subsequent offense for distribution or possession with intent to distribute class B cocaine, crack or methamphetamine carries a mandatory minimum 3 1/2 years in state prison and $2,000 fine, up to the following potential penalties:

  • 15 years in state prison
  • $25,000 fine

Distribution or possession with intent to distribute class B- other than cocaine, crack or methamphetamine- is a felony.

This charge carries the following potential penalties:

  • 10 years in state prison
  • $10,000 fine

A second or subsequent offense for distribution or possession with intent to distribute class B under this section carries a mandatory minimum2 years in jail and $2,500 fine, up to the following potential penalties:

  • 10 years in state prison
  • $25,000 fine

Distribution or possession with intent to distribute class C in Massachusetts is a felony.

 carries up to the following potential penalties:

  • 5 years in state prison
  • $5,000 fine

A second or subsequent offense for distribution or possession with intent to distribute class C carries amandatory minimum18 months in jail and $1,000 fine, up to the following potential penalties:

  • 10 years in state prison
  • $10,000 fine

Distribution or possession with intent to distribute class Din Massachusetts is a misdemeanor.  

It carries the following potential penalties:

  • 2 years in jail
  • $500 (minimum) up to $5,000 fine

A second or subsequent offense for distribution or possession with intent to distribute class D carries amandatory minimum1 year in jail and $1,000 fine, up to the following potential penalties:

  • 2 1/2 years in jail
  • $10,000 fine

Distribution or possession with intent to distribute class E in Massachusetts is a misdemeanor.

It carries the following potential penalties:

  • 9 months in jail
  • $250 (minimum) up to $2,500 fine

A second or subsequent offense for distribution or possession with intent to distribute class E carries the following potential penalties:

  • 1 1/2 years in jail
  • $500 (minimum) up to $5,000 fine

Distribution or Possession with Intent to Distribute Class A, B, or C to a Minor in Massachusetts carries enhanced penalties.

You face the following potential penalties if charged with distributing, or possession with intent to distribute, the following substances to anyone under the age of 18 years old:

Distribution/ possession with intent to distribute HEROIN to a minor:

  • 5 years state prison (mandatory minimum), up to 15 years in state prison
  • $1,000 to $25,000 fine

Distribution/ possession with intent to distribute COCAINE to a minor:

  • 3 years state prison (mandatory minimum), up to 15 years in state prison
  • $1,000 to $25,000 fine

Distribution w/ possession with intent to distribute CLASS B (other than cocaine) to a minor:

  • 5 years state prison (mandatory minimum), up to 15 years in state prison
  • $1,000 to $25,000 fine

We have more than 20 years of experience successfully defending people charged with serious drug offenses.  Contact us to talk about your case.  Use the form on this page or call us.  Get the information you need and discuss the facts of your case so you can make the best decisions for your future, and your freedom.