On August 2, 2012 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts House Crime Bill Number 4286, also known as Melissa’s Bill, took effect. While the Bill focuses on habitual offenders and parole eligibility following the conviction for specified violent crimes, it also addresses drug related violations. Melissa’s Bill effectively changes both the minimum mandatory sentencing associated with drug offenses and increases the weights associated with trafficking level offenses.
Specifically, under Massachusetts General Laws chapter 94C, section 32 which addresses Possession with Intent and Distribution of Heroin, the crime bill reduces the minimum mandatory sentence on a subsequent offense from 5 years to 3 1/2 years. With respect to a subsequent offense for either Distribution or Possession with Intent to Distribute a Class B substance, under Massachusetts General Laws chapter 94C, section 32A, the minimum mandatory sentence for that violation was reduced from 3 years to 2 years. Also under section 32A, the minimum mandatory sentence for either distribution or possession with intent to distribute cocaine or crack cocaine was reduced from a mandatory minimum of 5 years down to 3 years. Melissa’s Bill also reduces sentencing associated with drug crimes for a subsequent offender of Class C narcotics lowering the minimum mandatory sentence from 2 years to 18 months in either state prison or the House of Correction.
Additionally, Melissa’s Bill addresses both the sentencing associated with Trafficking in controlled substances (Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin, etc) as well as, the minimum gram requirements in order to substantiate a charge for Trafficking for cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and other Class A and Class B narcotics.
For Marijuana trafficking cases, Melissa’s Bill states the following:
For 100 – 2000 pounds of marijuana, the minimum mandatory sentence was reduced from 3 to 2 years jail time;
For 2,000 – 10,000 pounds of marijuana, the minimum mandatory sentence was reduced from 5 years to 3 1/2 years jail time.
For 10,000+ pounds of marijuana, the minimum mandatory sentence was reduced from 10 years down to eight 8 years jail time.
For Cocaine or Crack Cocaine Trafficking cases, Melissa’ Bill states the following:
The minimum trafficking weight by cocaine or crack cocaine is now 18 grams instead of the previous threshold of 14 grams. Thus any gram weight less than 18 grams will now have to be prosecuted as Possession with Intent or Distribution in lieu of Trafficking.
18 – 36 Grams now carries a sentence of 2-15 years, minimum mandatory sentence of 2 years imprisonment.
36 -100 Grams now carries a sentence of 3 1/2-20, minimum mandatory sentence of 3 1/2 years imprisonment.
100 – 200 Grams mandates an 8 year minimum incarceration.
200+ Grams mandates a 12 year minimum incarceration.
For Heroin, Morphine, Opiate Trafficking cases, Melissa’ Bill states the following:
Again, Melissa’s Bill established a minimum Trafficking weight of 18 grams.
18 – 36 Grams carries a sentence of 3 1/2 -20, minimum mandatory 3 1/2 years prison time.
36 – 100 Grams carries a sentence of 5 – 20, minimum mandatory sentence of 5 years prison time.
100 – 200 Grams mandates 8 years in prison.
200+ now mandates 12 years in prison.
While Melissa’s Bill does address drug sentencing, work release and safe haven for drug overdose, the most far reaching implication on the controlled substance laws is the modification to the “School Zone” statute under Massachusetts General Laws chapter 94C, section 32J. If the police determine that you should be charged with either Possession with Intent to Distribute or Distribution, they can also attach the enhanced charge referred to as a school zone. Previously, much of Massachusetts was a school zone as it allowed for the violation whether school was in session and within a 1000 feet radius of a public or private accredited pre-school, elementary, vocational, high school or other qualifying institution. Pursuant to Melissa’s Bill, the violation for Possession with Intent to Distribute or Distribution within a school zone can only be charged if the violation occurs between the hours of 5:00 am and midnight and must be within 300 feet of a public or private accredited pre-school, elementary, vocational, high school or other qualifying institution.
If you are charged with any drug crimes or charges in violation of chapter 94C, call Kristen Bonavita at (978) 376-6746 for a free consultation or click here to email her directly.