Drug Possession Charges
Boston Drug Possession Charges – Massachusetts Drug Possession Defense Attorney
Boston Drug Possession Attorney
Massachusetts Drug Arrest Defense Lawyer
The most common drug possession offense in Massachusetts is possession of marijuana for personal use. A possession of marijuana charge involves serious consequences which could include jail, a criminal record, and even a loss of your right to operate a motor vehicle. Don’t make the mistake and underestimate this charge. Consult with Attorney Steven J. Topazio to see how he can help.
Marijuana Possession– Less than 1 ounce
As of January 2, 2009, Massachusetts decriminalized (but did not legalize) possession of one ounce or less of marihuana by making the violation a $100 civil penalty.
Don’t be fooled by the change in the law. You may still be arrested for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana if the police believe you possess that marijuana with intent to sell it. The police look for other factors when bringing this elevated charge such as the presence of baggies, scales, cell phones, and how the marijuana is packaged itself; that might suggest that the possession is for resale rather than personal use.
Protect Your Right to Drive
A conviction of any drug crime, including simple possession of marijuana, results in a loss of a Massachusetts Drivers License. The length of loss of license depends on the class of drug involved and the seriousness of the crime. A qualified Boston Drug Possession Defense Attorney will know what can be done to avoid a license loss. If you need the assistance of an attorney experienced in defending his clients’ Fourth Amendment rights, contact Attorney Steven J. Topazio for a free case evaluation.
An Illegal Motor Vehicle Stop or Search: Not everything a police does is constitutional. Police sometimes act on no more than a hunch and without legal justification. Attorney Topazio knows that illegal police behavior cannot be the basis for the discovery of drugs, and if successfully challenged, those drugs will be suppressed by the Court. If the stop and search are Unconstitutional, then any drugs found illegally will be suppressed and not available for use by the Commonwealth at your trial. Without evidence your case will get dismissed.
Recent Changes in the Law: Prior to the passage of the law decriminalizing the possession of one ounce of marijuana or less, police could search your motor vehicle it they detected an odor of burnt marijuana coming from the motor vehicle. Following the passage of MGL c. 94C § 32L, the court reversed itself and no longer allows the odor of burnt marijuana by itself, to be the sole basis for a police officer to legally search your motor vehicle for drugs. Comm. v. Cruz, 459 Mass. 459 (2011). Attorney Topazio challenges searches when the police allege they smell marijuana.
An Invalid Search Warrant: When drugs are discovered pursuant to a search warrant, Attorney Topazio knows that often times the warrant is based on evidentiary defects. If the Warrant is defective, the Court will rule the search Unconstitutional and suppress any drugs or drug related evidence found during the search.
Comprehensive Investigation and Case-Building
Possession drug charges can have serious consequences which include jail time, probation, a criminal record, and even a loss of driving privileges. Attorney Topazio is prepared to investigate every aspect of your case in order to identify the right strategy and to build an aggressive defense. Attorney Topazio looks for constitutional reasons to attack the government’s case and will fight hard to prevent the Commonwealth from turning a possession charge into a more serious possession with intent to distribute charge. Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Topazio will use his skill and experience to resolve your case through substance abuse treatment to avoid a conviction or by utilizing Drug Court intervention to avoid a jail sentence. Contact Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Steven J. Topazio online to see what he can do for you.
Recent Case Decisions
June 6, 2014
Boston Municipal Court Central
Distribution of Class D Marijuana MGL c. 94C § 32C
Motion to Suppress
The client, a 29 year old with his GED, was represented by Boston Criminal Attorney Topazio after he was arrested and charged with Distribution of Class D, Marijuana by Boston Police for allegedly engaging in a drug transaction with another individual. According to the police report, officers observed two cars parked behind each other on Washington Street, in Boston, in which they indicated that the occupants were acting suspicious. The occupants of the first car were described as constantly looking around and appeared to police to be waiting for the arrival of someone. The client was observed exiting the second motor vehicle, and then walked up to the first motor vehicle, leaned in, where the police observed the parties manipulating unknown small items. The client then walked back to his motor vehicle. The police believed they witnessed a drug transaction and stopped the first motor vehicle to investigate further. The occupant of the first vehicle stated he obtained “weed” form the client. “Weed” is street terminology for marijuana. The occupant stated that the client did not take any money from him but that he gave the marijuana to him as a gift. Attorney Topazio challenged the stop of his client arguing that when police conduct a search of an automobile without first obtaining a search warrant, the Commonwealth bears the burden of proving “the existence of both probable cause to believe that the automobile contained contraband and of exigent circumstances to justify proceeding without a warrant.” Attorney Topazio argued that his client’s passing of a small non-criminal amount of marijuana to another for no remuneration as in this case constitutes social sharing of marijuana and is akin to simple possession, and does not constitute the facilitation of a drug transfer from seller to buyer that remains the hallmark of drug distribution. For this reason, Attorney Topazio argued that the social sharing of marijuana does not violate the distribution statute. Today on the day of trial, Attorney Topazio was successful in getting the case against his client dismissed.
Result: Case dismissed on day of trial.
January 24, 2014
Chelsea District Court
Docket # 1314CR1793
Possession to Distribute Class D, Subsequent MGL c94C § 32C(b)
Failure to Yield MGL c89 § 8
Search and Seizure
The client, a 31-year old restaurant employee, was arrested during the course of a routine motor vehicle stop. The police report indicates that after the client’s motor vehicle was stopped, State Police searched the client’s car after smelling an odor of marijuana and found a quantity of marihuana in a backpack, hired Boston Criminal Attorney Steven J. Topazio to defend him. Attorney Topazio filed a motion to suppress evidence arguing that following the decriminalization of less than an ounce of marijuana (MGL 94C § 32L), the mere smell of marijuana raises only an outside possibility that someone has more than an ounce in their possession to justify a search. The mere smell of marijuana Attorney Topazio argued, is not reliable evidence so as to establish that a party has more than an ounce on him so as to subject him to a search. Attorney Topazio argued that his client exhibited no characteristics of impairment therefore the trooper did not have probable cause to believe that the client was operating under the influence of marijuana so as to create probable cause to search. Since the client was not engaged in any type of criminal activity or presented a danger to the trooper or others Attorney Topazio argued that the search was not justified and the court agreed. Today Attorney Topazio persuaded the court to dismiss all charges against his client.
Result: Case dismissed.
December 12, 2013
Malden District Court
Docket # 1250CR0359
Heroin, Being Present Where Kept c94C § 35
The client, a 25-year old unemployed laborer, was arrested by Malden Police when he walked into a home during the execution of a search warrant. The client was charged with knowingly being present where heroin is kept after the Malden Police found several bags of heroin in the home they were searching. The client hired Boston Criminal Attorney Steven J. Topazio to represent him after his initial attorney was unable to resolve the case. Attorney Topazio realized that the client was not the original target of the police investigation. Malden Police had focused their investigation on another individual allegedly dealing drugs out of a home in Everett, Massachusetts, where a lot of complaints from neighbors about drug use were made and a lot of foot traffic was occurring. The Malden Police utilized a confidential informant to obtain information about the distribution of illegal narcotics for the home. The confidential informant made a controlled buy of heroin for police, and obtained a search warrant. Thirty minutes before police executed the search warrant, the client was observed entering the premises. When Malden police entered the Everett home on the authority of the search warrant, they seized several items, including plastic bags containing heroin in the room the client was found in. Attorney Topazio argued that there was insufficient evidence to establish that his client knew that he was in the presence of heroin so he pushed the case to trial. On the day of the trial, Attorney Topazio was successful in persuading the Judge to place his client on a period of pre-trial probation for six months, despite his client’s extensive criminal record.
Result: Case to be dismissed after period of pre-trial probation.
October 31, 2013
East Boston District Court
Docket # 1205CR1706
Possession Class B, Cocaine, MGL c. 94C § 34
Motion to Suppress
The client, a 36 year old construction worker, was arrested after police alleged he was observed to be involved in a drug transaction, but when the alleged buyer disappeared into a building, the client was stopped, searched and found him to be in possession of cocaine, hired Boston Criminal Lawyer Steven J. Topazio to represent him. Attorney Topazio filed a motion to suppress the evidence in the case after the warrantless search, claiming the police lacked probable cause to search his client. The facts in this case indicated that the police hustled up to the client’s car when it was stopped at a red light, and ordered him out of his car and pat frisked him for weapons. During the pat frisk, and without manipulating the item, the police immediately recognize an item in the client’s shirt pocket to be cocaine. After an evidentiary hearing at which the Boston Police testified, the court found that the stop of the client was not supported by reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminality. The court also found that contraband nature of the drugs in the defendant’s pocket was not immediately apparent until manipulated in some fashion, which violated the client’s rights, and as a result, the court allowed the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence.
Result: Case dismissed after all evidence suppressed.
October 21, 2013
Malden District Court
Docket # 1250CR2268
Possession with intent to Distribute Class D – Marijuana–MGL c. 94C § 32C(a)
School Zone Violation MGL c. 94C § 32J
The client, a 23 year old barber, was arrested by Malden Police after they executed a search warrant at the client’s house and found a quantity of marijuana and packaging materials, hired Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Steven J. Topazio to defend him. The police further alleged that the client possessed marijuana with the intent to distribute within 300 feet of a school/daycare, exposing him to mandatory jail time. The basis for the search warrant was five controlled buys at the client’s home with a cooperating informant. A “Controlled Drug” buy in Massachusetts is when the police have an informant purchase drugs in attempt to establish probable cause to search the alleged seller’s residence for illegal narcotics. Because of the high level of police investigation into obtaining the search warrant in this case Attorney Topazio realized a motion to suppress to attack probable cause might not have been successful, so he attacked the credentials of the school instead to get rid of the school zone charge. The prosecutor identified Little Rascals Family Childcare as a child care or daycare center licensed with EEC as the named school. In Massachusetts, a license is required to provide most childcare services by the Department of Education, office of Early Education & Care Programs (EEC) and if someone is to run a daycare service out of their home, EEC requires the homeowner to be licensed with the state. Although the prosecutor claimed Little Rascals Day Care was a school licensed with EEC, and a school for purposes of the school zone statute, Attorney Topazio proved there was no active license with the EEC and filed a motion to dismiss the school zone charge arguing that it did not qualify as a school under the statute. Today, Attorney Topazio obtained a dismissal of the school zone charge but because of the strength of the Commonwealth’s case, the client decided to tender a change of plea on the remaining charge. Despite the prosecutor’s recommendation of a guilty finding on the possession with intent to distribute charge because of five controlled drug buys, Attorney Topazio convinced the court to give his client a continuance without a finding.
ResultSchool zone charge dismissed and Client avoids mandatory jail time and receives continuance without a finding.
October 04, 2013
Salem Superior Court
Docket # ESCR2009-00347
Breaking and Entering
Assault & Battery with a Dangerous Weapon
Possession With Intent to Distribute Class A MGL c. 94C § 32
School Zone violation MGL c. 94C § 32J
Motion for Jail time Credit due to Reversal of Erroneous Conviction
The client, a 44 year old individual, was serving a 4-5 year state prison sentence after tendering a change of plea in Salem Superior Court to an Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon and Breaking and Entering charge. Prior to his change of plea, the client was out on bail but was arrested for Possession With Intent to Distribute Class A School Zone and held on bail in the BMC, a different court. Shortly after his new arrest the client pled guilty in the BMC and was convicted of the Possession With Intent to Distribute Class A in a School Zone and received a sentence of one (1) day to the House of Correction and two (2) years from and after sentence. The client began serving his BMC sentence at South Bay House of Corrections until he changed his plea in the Superior Court case where he received a sentence of 4-5 years in State Prison forthwith which ended the BMC House of Corrections sentence. The client was not given jail credit on his Superior Court sentence for the time he was in custody on the BMC case. Attorney Topazio challenged the BMC case and moved to vacate the sentence on grounds that it was discovered that Chemist Annie Dookhan carried out the testing on the alleged controlled substance in the laboratory where the testing was carried out which has been identified by law enforcement officials as a person who intentionally contaminated drug evidence to ensure positive tests, inflated drug sample weights, falsified drug analysis findings, and fraudulently altered chain of custody documents during a time period relevant to this case. As a result of Ms. Dookhan’s misconduct, the Attorney Topazio filed a Motion for New Trial in the BMC which after hearing was allowed by the Court on the ground that the defendant’s guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary, and therefore violated the Fourteenth Amendment and Article 14. Attorney Topazio next argued that his client did not receive the full jail credit on his Superior court case for the time that his client was in custody on the BMC case as a result of the client’s conviction on the BMC case being vacated. Attorney Topazio argued that this lost time is now considered dead time and his client should be credited with this time on his Superior Court sentence. By way of motion Attorney Topazio requested that his client be credited on the Superior Court case in Essex County for all time awaiting trial in the BMC case in Suffolk County due to the erroneous conviction in the BMC. Attorney Topazio argued that it is necessary to remedy the injustice to his client who served time for which he otherwise would receive no credit. Attorney Topazio argued that if his client is not credited that time it will be considered dead time to the defendant, and the court agreed.
Result: Client credited additional jail time toward “from and after” sentence for time served under an erroneous conviction when the client would otherwise face dead time for the vacated sentence.
October 03, 2013
Eastern Hampshire District Court
Docket # 1298CR3101
Possession Class B Amphetamines c. 94C § 34
Possession with intent to Distribute Class B c. 94C § 32A(a)
Distribution Class B Cocaine c. 94C § 32A(a)
Possession Class B Cocaine c. 94C § 34
Operating Under the Influence c. 90 § 24
The client, a 22 year old college senior, was on probation for two years after receiving a continuance without a finding on several drug related offenses, was arrested for on drunk driving charges while on probation which violated his probation, hired Boston Criminal Lawyer Steven J. Topazio to defend him. A violation of probation could result in revocation of the client’s CWOFs where guilty findings could be imposed and where the client could face up to 2 ½ hears in a house of correction and end up a convicted felon. The client had no prior record and did not want to go to jail or end up with a felony conviction on his record. Distribution of a Class B substance which the client was on probation is a felony charge. Attorney Topazio continued the final surrender so as to prepare for hearing. According to the police report, the drunken driving offense involved the client crashing and flipping his car onto its roof. Attorney Topazio wanted to negotiate a resolution of the probation violation prior to a resolution of the DUI charge due to the seriousness of the accident. Today, although the probation department was not prepared to proceed with the final surrender hearing, Attorney Topazio agreed to have his client stipulate to a violation of probation instead of continuing the hearing on the condition that his client’s CWOFs remain intact and that his client’s probation be renewed to the original date and the court agreed.
Result: Probation renewed and Client avoids a felony conviction and possible jail sentence.
September 13, 2013
Chelsea District Court
Docket # 1214CR1092
Possession of Class A – Heroin c.94C § 34
The client, a 64 year old Army Vietnam War Veteran, was arrested for possession of heroin, was represented by Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Steven J. Topazio. Attorney Topazio filed a motion to suppress to challenge the seizure of heroin and evidence found on his client. A motion to suppress is a formal, written request to a judge for an order that certain evidence be excluded from consideration by the judge or jury. Without the evidence of the heroin to use at trial, then the prosecutor will not have evidence to convict the client. According to the police report, the State Trooper saw the client leave his motor vehicle, enter a building in an area known for its high level of narcotics activity, and when the client exited the building within one minute, he was approached by the Trooper who stopped him and illuminated him with his flashlight. When the client recognized the Trooper as a police officer, the Trooper told the client to give up the drugs so you don’t make a scene. The client was charged with possession of heroin. Today, after arguing his motion to suppress, Attorney Topazio convinced the prosecutor that this warrantless search was not consensual, without probable cause, and violated his client’s rights. The court agreed and the case was dismissed.
Result: Case dismissed.
July 10, 2013
East Boston Division of Boston Municipal Court
Docket # 1105CR0814
Distribution of Class D (Marijuana) M.G.L. c. 94C § 32C
The client, a 28 year old father of one who was on probation in the East Boston Court for distribution of a class D substance facing a 2 year suspended sentence, was arrested in the Chelsea District Court for possession with intent to distribute a class D substance, hired Massachusetts Probation Surrender Attorney Steven J. Topazio to represent him. Attorney Topazio appeared with his client in the Chelsea District Court and procured his release from custody on personal recognizance. Attorney Topazio contacted East Boston Probation and negotiated his client’s appearance in that court in exchange of not being detained on a probation detainer. Today Attorney Topazio persuaded the court to release his client on personal recognizance pending a final surrender hearing.
Result: Client avoids detention and released on personal recognizance. Case pending.
May 29, 2013
Eastern Hampshire District Court
Docket # 1298CR3101
Possession of Class B Substance (Ecstasy) MGL c.94C § 34
Possession with Intent to Distribute Class B MGL c. 94C § 32A
Distribution of Class B Substance MGL c.94C §32A
Possession of Class B Substance (Cocaine) MGL c.94C § 34
A 22 year old college student, charged with two counts of possession of Class B substance, (cocaine and ecstasy), Possession with Intent to Distribute Class B substance and Distribution of a Class B substance, hired Boston Criminal Attorney Steven J. Topazio to defend him following his arrest at school. The client was arrested by college police after the client sold cocaine to an undercover police officer. Attorney Topazio discovered that his client was not the initial focus of police investigation. According to a police narrative, police contact was made with a source of information that identified a third party student living in a residence hall at a university who was selling cocaine. Though text messages, the officer was able to negotiate the purchase of cocaine with the third party student. Prior to the initial scheduled sale of cocaine negotiated by the third party student and the police, the third party student notified the undercover officer that she was too busy to complete the sale but that her friend (the client), would do it for her. The officer met with the client to purchase 1 gram of cocaine for $80. Before the officer completed the transaction, she gave the client $70 instead of $80 and stated that that was all she had and that he could break off a piece of the rock-like substance, which he did do, to adjust for the price. The client was thereafter arrested and charged with distribution, including possessing with intent to distribute the pieced of cocaine he broke off at the officer’s request. The Commonwealth failed to charge the client with distribution in a school zone and before the Commonwealth brought out new charges, Attorney Topazio advised his client to tender a change of plea in order to avoid the more serious charges being filed. Attorney Topazio used his client’s lack of sophistication with the drug transaction to his advantage. Despite the Commonwealth requesting that the client be found guilty, Attorney Topazio obtained letters of recommendation from school faculty and friends and prepared a sentencing memorandum for the court. Attorney Topazio was able to convince the court to dismiss the Possession with Intent to Distribute Class B substance (cocaine) and possession of ecstasy charges and to give his client a continuance without finding (CWOF) on the felony Distribution charge and possession of cocaine charge despite the Commonwealth’s insistence on a guilty finding.
Result: Two counts dismissed and client accepts CWOF on two counts and avoids jail time and a felony conviction on his record
May 10, 2013
Boston Municipal Court br>Docket # 1001CR6585
Operating after Suspension MGL c. 90 § 23
Possession with Intent to Distribute Class A MGL c. 94 § 32
School Zone MGL c.94 § 32J
Possession with Intent to Distribute Class A, Subsequent MGL c. 94 § 32
A 43 year old individual who was convicted of operating after suspension, Possession with Intent to Distribute Class A Substance and School Zone violation after a plea of guilty received a two (2) year committed sentence to the House of Corrections. While serving his sentence, the client retained Boston Criminal Attorney Steven J. Topazio after the client learned that the drugs in his case may have been tainted during the testing process. Attorney Topazio discovered that Chemist Annie Dookhan of Hinton lab in Jamaica Plain carried out the testing on the alleged controlled substances in his client’s case. Ms. Dookhan has since been identified by law enforcement officials as a person who intentionally contaminated drug evidence to ensure positive tests, inflated drug sample weights, falsified drug analysis findings and fraudulently altered the chain of custody documents during a time period relevant to this case. As a consequence of that investigation, two other laboratory supervisions have been suspended, and the drug laboratory has been shut down. As a result of the Dookhan investigation, Attorney Topazio filed a motion for a new trail, a motion to withdraw guilty plea and a motion for post conviction discovery. Attorney Topazio argued that the Commonwealth relied upon tainted drug analysis documents and testimony to carry its burden of proof at the plea in his new client’s case. As a result of the misconduct of Ms. Dookhan and/or other employees of Hinton lab, Attorney Topazio argued that his client was deprived of due process by the failure of the Commonwealth to provide true and accurate discovery in violation of Fourteenth Amendment and Article 14. Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). As a result of Ms. Dookhan’s conduct, Attorney Topazio claimed that his client’s guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary, and therefore violated his client’s rights. The motion for a new trial was allowed by the court by agreement. Attorney Topazio was able to convince the court to accept a new disposition of 3 months continuance without finding (CWOF) in lieu of retrying the case.
Result: Motion for New Trial Allowed and guilty conviction vacated.
March 29, 2013
Chelsea District Court
Docket # 1214CR1919
Possession to Distribute Class B MGL c. 94C § 32A(a)
Motion to Suppress
The client, a 28 year old father of two, was arrested after State Troopers stopped the client’s motor vehicle after the Troopers concluded that they witnessed a street level drug sale, was represented by Boston Criminal Attorney Steven J. Topazio. Attorney Topazio attacked the case by filing a Motion to Suppress evidence arguing the motor vehicle stop not based on reasonable suspicion. According to the police report, the Trooper states that his attention was first drawn to two males described as “sickly looking males pacing back and forth” and to be “nervous and looking around.” The troopers saw nothing exchange between the parties to conclude a drug transaction had occurred. Nevertheless, the troopers after approximately ten minutes watching these individuals state in their police report that they see a “white female who they know to be a drug user, prostitute and person who middles narcotics deals in the Shirley Ave area of Revere”. According to the police report, the two males and this woman begin to quickly walk down Beach Street towards North Shore Road. At North Shore Road the two males split away from the female and walked towards the beach. The female gets into a white van the client was driving. The van thereafter pulled away from the curb. At no time does anything else happen. Nothing is observed passed. No furtive motions of any party are mentioned. Where the white female comes from is not mentioned. The trooper merely concludes that he “suspected that there was a narcotics transaction about to take place”, stopped the van and discovered cocaine in the van. Attorney Topazio argued that the motor vehicle stop not based on reasonable suspicion. Attorney Topazio pointed out that even if there eventually was reasonable suspicion when the troopers saw a piece of torn plastic baggie on the floor of the van, the troopers did not have reasonable suspicion before pursuit began, as required by law, citing Commonwealth v. Stoute, 422 Mass. 782 , 788-789 (1996). Today, Attorney Topazio was able to persuade the Commonwealth to reduce the charges and obtain a six month CWOF for his client on the lesser included offense of straight possession.
Result: Motion to Suppress results in reduction of charges and client accepts a six month CWOF for straight possession.
March 13, 2013
Boston Municipal Court – Central Division
Docket # 1201CR0915
Distribution of Counterfeit Drug M.G.L. c. 94C § 32G
Possess to Distribution of Counterfeit Drug M.G.L. c. 94C § 32G
Resisting Arrest M.G.L. c. 268 § 32B
Assault and Battery on Public Employee M.G.L. c. 265 § 13D
Disturbing the Peace M.G.L. c. 272 § 53
Possession to Distribute Class E M.G.L. c. 94C § 32D
School Zone Violation M.G.L. c. 94C § 32J
The client, a 44 year old father of one, was arrested for selling a counterfeit substance in response to an undercover officer looking to buy “hard”. The police report indicates that the defendant had no controlled substances on him nor attempted to sell any controlled substances but that his girlfriend had a Class E substance on her when she came to her boyfriend’s aid when he attempted to flee police. Boston Criminal Attorney Steven J. Topazio, who represented the client, initially challenged the complaint filed against his client with a motion to dismiss. The complaint procedure is a judicial process in which clerks and judges of the District
Court serve a grand jury-type function to determine whether a person is to be charged as a defendant in a criminal case. The magistrate must decide if there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that the accused committed it. After argument, the court partially granted Attorney Topazio’s Motion to dismiss. After answering ready for trial six times, today Attorney Topazio persuaded the court to dismiss all charges against his client.
Result: Case dismissed at trial.
February 06, 2013
Boston Municipal Court – Central Division
Docket # 1101CR2195
Distribution of Class A M.G.L. c. 94C § 32
Distribution of Class A Subsequent M.G.L. c. 94C § 32
School Zone Violation M.G.L. c. 94C § 32J
The client, a 62 year retiree, was arrested by Boston Police Officer who were acting in an undercover capacity, observed the client get into a motor vehicle on Hanover Street in Boston, drive around the block, then get out again after allegedly doing nothing. During the ride the vehicle did not stop nor interact with any individuals. When the client exited the vehicle, the officers characterized the ride as a “classic meaningless ride” for the sole purpose of exchanging drugs. The client was arrested and charged with distribution after heroin was discovered in the motor vehicle after a police stop. The client retained Attorney Steven J. Topazio to defend him. Attorney Topazio filed a motion to suppress evidence alleging, among other things, that the police violated his client’s rights through a target-oriented search of the motor vehicle in which the drugs were found. Target standing is when the police violate the rights of the “little fish” so as to catch the “bigger fish”. Attorney Topazio argued that the police conducted the search with the deliberate intention of obtaining evidence against his client. During the course of the discovery of the case, Attorney Topazio learned that the chemist that analyzed the drugs was the disgraced chemist Annie Dookian, and immediately marked his case for trial. Annie Dookhan is the chemist at the center of the state drug lab scandal and accused of deliberately faking test results on drug samples in criminal cases, and currently is awaiting trial herself. Dookhan was also accused of falsely claiming that she holds a master’s degree in chemistry while testifying as an expert witness on several criminal cases. Despite his push for trial, the Commonwealth answered not ready several times and was granted continuances. Today, pressing his client’s right for a speedy trial, Boston Criminal Attorney Topazio convinced the court to dismiss all charges against his client.
Result: All Charges dismissed for want of prosecution.
September 12, 2012
Waltham District Court
Docket # 1251CR0322
Possession with intent to Distribute Class D – Marijuana, M.G.L. c. 94C § 32C
Distribute Class D – Marijuana, M.G.L. c. 94C § 32C
The client, a senior at Babson College, was arrested after police from the Suburban Middlesex Drug Task Force executed a search warrant on the client’s home, after completing an investigation involving several undercover purchases of marijuana of approximately one ounce per buy from the client, over the course of several weeks, hired Boston Criminal Drug Attorney Steven J. Topazio to represent him. Boston Criminal Attorney Topazio obtained the return on the search warrant and learned that several pounds of marijuana, a digital scale, large sums of US currency, several smaller bags of marijuana, a heat sealing packaging machine, and numerous plastic bags used for packaging were seized from his client’s home. Boston Criminal Lawyer Topazio mounted a defense of trying to suppress the drugs by challenging the search warrant. Massachusetts Defense Attorney Topazio analyzed his client’s case which consisted of three undercover police buys of marijuana directly from the client himself at his home. The undercover police buys of marijuana were the basis of the evidence presented to for the magistrate for the issuance of the search warrant. Massachusetts Criminal Attorney Topazio filed discovery motions and prepared a motion to suppress with memorandum of law to challenge the search warrant. During the course of negotiations, the client agreed to tender an admission to sufficient facts but wanted to avoid jail time and a conviction at all costs. Today, Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer Topazio persuaded the court to give his client a CWOF on three counts of distribution to an undercover officer and one count of possession with intent to distribute despite the Commonwealth’s recommendation of a guilty finding and a two year suspended sentence. A CWOF had the further benefit of not causing his client’s driving privileges from being suspended.
Result: Client avoids jail and a conviction on his CORI by admitting to sufficient facts and receives a CWOF on all counts.
August 02, 2012
East Boston District Court
Docket # 1205 CR 1015
Possession Class B cocaine M.G.L. c. 94C § 34
Larceny from Building M.G.L. c. 266 § 20
Withholding Evidence from Criminal Proceeding M.G.L. c. 268 § 13E(6)
The client, a 24 year old college graduate, was arrested and held in custody after being charged with stealing court documents from the East Boston Court House, hired Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Steven J. Topazio to represent her. Prior to being arrested, the client was in the East Boston District Court House where she proceeded to the clerk’s office to retrieve her court record. After being provided with the records the client left the court house instead of copying the files. According to the police report, while in the booking area of the police department, the client dropped a bag of cocaine. The client was initially held on bail and ordered to remain drug and alcohol free and to submit to random urine tests upon her release. After posting bail, Attorney Topazio filed a motion to modify the terms of pretrial release arguing that the Supreme Judicial Court in the case of Commonwealth v. Dodge, indicated that no statutory authority exists under the bail statute (M.G.L. c. 276 § 58) to make a defendant’s pre-trial release subject to conditions, and the court agreed and vacated the conditions of release. Today, Attorney Topazio persuaded the court to grant his client a CWOF on the possession of coke charge so as to preserve her driving privileges, and probation on the a single count of larceny after dismissing multiple larceny and withholding evidence charges.
Result: Client receives a CWOF and probation after dismissal of seven counts.
May 03, 2012
Dorchester Division of BMC
Docket # 1207CR0566
Search and Seizure
MV Lights Violation, M.G.L. c. 90 § 7
Possession Class D Drug, M.G.L. c. 94C § 34
The Client, a 31 year old self employed medications courier for nursing homes, was arrested on drug charges, hired Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Steven J. Topazio to represent him. According to the police report, the Client was stopped in his motor vehicle after a State Police Trooper alleged the Client’s rear motor vehicle plate light was broken. When the Trooper approached the vehicle, the Trooper claimed he detected a strong odor or raw un-burnt Marijuana. According to the report, the Trooper asked the Client if there was any Marijuana in the vehicle and how much. The Trooper reported that the Client stated that he had “an ounce,” then produced 3 small plastic bags containing 1.37 ounces of Marijuana. An ounce or less of marijuana is a non-arrestable civil violation. An ounce of marijuana or more is a criminal offense. Attorney Topazio attacked the Trooper’s rendition of the facts as not being credible. Attorney Topazio alleged the Trooper threatened his Client and forced the Client to produce the Marijuana that was secreted in the motor vehicle. Attorney Topazio argued that due to the recent changes in the law which decriminalized an ounce of marijuana or less, the police can no longer search a motor vehicle based on an odor of marijuana alone. Today, Attorney Topazio persuaded the District Attorney to dismiss the charges against his Client on the payment of court costs.
April 18, 2012
BMC West Roxbury District Court
Clerk Magistrate Hearing
Application for Criminal Complaint
Distribution of Class D (marijuana) M.G.L. c. 94C § 32C
Possession With Intent to Distribute Class D M.G.L. c. 94C § 30C
Conspiracy to violate the Drug Laws M.G.L. c. 94C § 40
The client, a 31 year old administrative assistant with no prior criminal history, immediately hired Attorney Topazio to represent her after she was stopped by police and searched after purchasing marijuana. Although not arrested, the Client received an application for criminal complaint to appear in court to answer on the charges. Attorney Topazio obtained the police report and learned that members of the Drug Control Unit stopped the Client after observing her engaged in what they believed to be a drug transaction. According to the police report, a $50.00 bag of marijuana was recovered from the Client who admitted to purchasing the marijuana and was released by police. After the Client was released, she called the alleged seller’s cell phone which was answered by police. The police, using a ruse, answered the alleged seller’s cell phone and reported that the Client stated that she was just stopped by the police and that they recovered only one of two bags of marijuana from her. The police still under the ruse, arranged to meet the Client for a second time, where it was reported that the Client was not in possession of the second bag of marijuana as she admitted to distributing it to a third person. Today, Attorney Topazio convinced the clerk magistrate and the police not to issue a criminal complaint against his Client at this time but rather to hold the matter open for one year and if his Client gets into no further trouble to dismiss all charges at the conclusion of the year. Dismissing the application for complaint prior to issuance of the formal criminal complaint also prevents an entry from appearing on his client’s clean criminal record or (CORI).
Result: Complaint not issued and will be dismissed in one year provided client stays out of trouble.
February 27, 2012
Wrentham District Court
Docket # 1157 CR 1297
Possession Class B (Cocaine) M.G.L. c. 94C § 34
The client, a 20 year old high school graduate, was arrested after being seen by neighbors snorting cocaine while parked in his automobile, hired Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Topazio to defend him. When the police responded to the neighbor’s call to investigate the alleged crime, they allegedly witnessed Client driving home in a different area of town without issue. Despite this fact, the police effectuated a motor vehicle stop with the intent of searching the client, and found cocaine in the client’s motor vehicle. After months of investigation, Attorney Topazio filed a motion to suppress the narcotics that were seized from Client’s car. Attorney Topazio argued that that the stop of his client’s car was unlawful and that there was no probable cause to search his client’s motor vehicle as well. Despite Attorney Topazio’s argument that a search made pursuant to the automobile exception must be based on probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that evidence relevant to that crime may be found in the automobile, the court denied the motion to suppress and the case proceeded to trial. Today at trial, Attorney Topazio was successful in getting the case against his client dismissed.
Result: Cocaine Possession Charge Dismissed at trial
January 09, 2012
East Boston Division of the Boston Municipal Court br>Docket # 1005CR1113
Possession Class B substance M.G.L. c. 94C § 34
The client, a 27 year old High School graduate, was arrested for possession of a class B substance, suboxone, who had defaulted several times during the course of his case, retained Attorney Topazio. Attorney Topazio realized that his client had suffered several substance abuse relapses in his fight against addiction and felt that it would be better to help his new client learn the skills to fight his addiction rather than risking that he be held in custody following a trial if he were committed. Attorney Topazio provided the names and addresses of both outpatient and inpatient substance programs to his client and helped him enroll in a substance abuse program prior to appearing in court. Today, Attorney Topazio convinced the District Attorney and the Court to place his client on a six (6) month period of pre-trial probation provided he remain drug free. Pre-trial probation is an agreement between the District Attorney and the defendant/client that occurs before a trial, plea or admission to sufficient facts; that results in a general continuance with an agreement that the case end in a dismissal. While pre-trial probation requires that the defendant be placed on either supervised or administrative probation monitored by the probation department, a successful completion results in a dismissal. A violation of pre-trial probation however does not cause the defendant/client to be surrendered and face potential jail time, which would happen if on regular probation, but rather only causes the case to be placed back on the trial docket.
Result: Case to be dismissed following term of pre-trial probation.
June 13, 2011
Chelsea District Court
Possession of Marijuana over one ounce, Subsequent Offense M.G.L. c. 94C § 34
The defendant was arrested after being found in possession of 1 ½ ounces of marijuana. As of January 2, 2009, Massachusetts decriminalized (but did not legalize) possession of one ounce or less of marihuana or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the major active ingredient both of marihuana (a Class D substance) and hashish (a Class C substance). G.L. c. 94C, §§ 31, 32L & 34. New G.L. c. 94C, §§ 32L–32N together provide for a $100 civil penalty for possession of one ounce or less of marihuana or THC, using the existing citation procedures found in G.L. c. 40, § 21D. Despite this change in the law, and despite Attorney Topazio’s client possessing 1 ½ ounces of marijuana, Attorney Topazio convinced a court to reduce the charges against his client and continued the case without a finding “CWOF” for one (1) month to an amended complaint of a first offense. A CWOF on a drug offense avoids the collateral consequence of a license suspension by the Registry of Motor Vehicles that a guilty finding would cause.
Result Subsequent offense dismissed upon plea to amended complaint and case continued without a finding for one month avoiding license suspension.