The Springfield Republican reports on the case of a man who is now charged with cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.
According to the article on March 8th police and firefighters responded to 44 Gail Street in Springfield for a report of a house fire. The first units to arrive at the home reported smoke coming from the basement area that had a strong odor of marijuana. Efforts were made to extinguish the fire and make the house safe. Allegedly after the home was safe to enter the police obtained a warrant and found 9 pounds of marijuana packaged for sale, and over 500 marijuana plants. The article did note that the plants were of varying sizes, which could mean many of the plants were mere seedlings and not actual thriving plants.
As was previously blogged on this site there has been some contradiction and confusion over marijuana laws in Massachusetts ever since voters overwhelmingly approved proposition two in 2008. That vote changed the law in Massachusetts and made possession of once or less of Marijuana no longer a crime. The kind of case that the man is facing is not at all affected by the vote decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.
What will happen with the man’s case remains to be seen. Although at first glance this may appear to be a strong case for the District Attorney’s Office, a more thorough investigation of the facts is necessary to determine where the law may take this case. One important issue glossed over by the article is the exact timeline of when police sought a warrant, and what level of entry was made into the home prior to seeking a warrant. If police overstepped their bounds and turned a situation where they were performing a community care taking function into an investigation and evidence gathering mission prior to obtaining a warrant, the man may be entitled to have some of the evidence against him suppressed. Likewise, the prosecution will need to prove that he was actually living in the home, or participating in the activities there, and was not merely the leaseholder who came to the scene when he learned of the fire.
Although this is certainly a serious case the man can take comfort in the fact that he is not charged with trafficking marijuana. As the charges stand he is charged with cultivation and possession with intent. Neither of those charges carry a mandatory minimum jail sentence. Trafficking marijuana does carry a mandatory minimum jail sentence but, in order to prosecute the man for trafficking the District Attorney’s office must be able to prove the amount of marijuana at issue in the case is in excess of 50 pounds.
Certainly the best outcome for the man would be to win a motion to suppress the evidence, or to obtain a not guilty verdict at trial. However if he is unable to do either of those things, he may still have some hope for staying out of jail and preserving his criminal record. Negotiating a favorable plea disposition in a case like this can be difficult, but a skilled attorney may be able to not only keep the man out of jail, but also keep his criminal record preserved in a way that will limit the ability of future potential employers to see that he was ever brought to court on these charges.
If you or a loved one has been charged with any criminal offense related to the possession, distribution or trafficking marijuana please call my office immediately for a free consultation. As a Middlesex County drug crimes defense lawyer I can help you evaluate the case the government has built against you and help you get the best possible outcome for your particular situation. As a former Assistant District Attorney I am very familiar with the way that police and prosecutors build drug cases against defendants. Now, as a Framingham crime lawyer I fight everyday to protect my clients from the negative impact a criminal case can have on their lives. Contact me for an immediate free consultation at (508) 762-4540 or by using the form on this website.