Massachusetts Penalties for Class A Drug Possession

To understand how the penalties for possession of a Class A drug are structured, it is first helpful to know what Class A drugs are.

A Class A drug in Massachusetts is any drug or controlled substance listed under Mass. General Laws, Chap. 94C (Controlled Substances Act) Sec. 31. Some Class A drugs listed include heroin and morphine, and designer drugs like GHB and ketamine (“Special K”).

However, the list of Class A drugs includes many more names that most of us would not recognize. While some of these may be used in veterinary or human medicine, most are no longer manufactured.

It is important to note that even when these drugs are obtained legally by prescription or under a doctor’s care, they are still listed under Class A as controlled substances.

Controlled Substance Definition

Why they’re called controlled substances.

All states maintain a controlled substances list that is derived from the federal controlled substances list first created under the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. Governments understood the dangers of abusing certain psychotropic and narcotic drugs and began to tightly regulate and attempt to control such drugs.

A “substance” is any officially recognized drug, and anything, other than food, intended to affect the structure or functions of the body of humans and animals. Thus, the term “controlled substance”.

So, what is a Class A drug in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, Class A drugs are one of 5 controlled substance classes set up specifically for organizing the penalties incurred when a violation of any Chapter 94C provision occurs. The Commonwealth’s five classifications of controlled substances are grouped according to risk of abuse, dependency and medicinal utility.

Any substances listed under Class A are deemed to have a higher risk of abuse due to addictiveness, while having fewer medicinal applications than drugs listed under the other classes.

Class A Drug Possession and Penalties

Definition of Class A Drug Possession.

Being charged with possession of a controlled substance means the prosecution must prove that you:

  • had immediate, physical possession of the drug, or
  • had access to and control over the drug, and
  • had knowledge that the substance was there.

It is unlawful to have possession of any Class A substance unless by direct order or prescription from a licensed practitioner.

Penalties for Drug Possession.

Under the sentencing guidelines for possession of a Class A drug, first time violators will face:

  • up to 1 year of jail time
  • or a fine of up to $1,000
  • or both

If you had a prior possession of a Class A drug conviction, or a prior felony drug conviction, you face:

  • up to 2 years in jail
  • or up to a $2,000 fine
  • or both

First and subsequent “simple” possessions are misdemeanors, unless your prior controlled substance conviction was for heroin.

Because it is one of the most addictive and dangerous drugs, the Commonwealth has specific controlled substance laws for heroin possession crimes.

Class A: HeroinJail v. PrisonFine or BothType of Crime
Possession; 1stUp to 2yrs jail≤$1k; or Jail + finemisdemeanor
Possession; 2nd +2.5 to 5yrs prison≤$5k + 2.5 yrs Jailfelony
Present Where Heroin is Kept*Up to 1yr jail≤$1k; or Jail + finemisdemeanor


* It is also a crime to be in the company of someone found in possession of heroin. If charged with being where heroin is kept or being with someone who has the drug in their possession, the Commonwealth must prove you knew heroin was there or on the person.

The punishment for possession of a Class A drug in Massachusetts is harsh, and particularly severe when the drug is heroin. If you or someone you care about have been charged with possessing controlled substance drugs, call now to set up a free consultation with Attorney Greg Oberhauser.

Ensuring you are defended by a successful and experienced drug crimes lawyer is the first step toward protecting your freedom. Penalties for possession of a Class A drug are serious, and can include suspension of your Driver’s License.

Do not hesitate to secure the best legal defense you can get on your drug crime case.  Call Attorney Oberhauser today: 978-452-1116

Attorney Gregory Oberhauser

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Gregory Oberhauser is the ONLY attorney in Massachusetts to be distinguished as an ACS-CHAL Forensic Lawyer-Scientist by the American Chemical Society!

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