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Attorney Daniel Sandell is a Criminal Defense  Lawyer serving Amherst, Belchertown, Hadley, Northampton, Springfield, Greenfield, Holyoke, and the surrounding area in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts.

Criminal Defense: Drug Possession and Distribution/ Dealing / Intent to Distribute Criminal Defense in Western Mass. - Why You Need a Lawyer

A variety of drugs lays on a table top –marijuana, cocaine, scotch, and assorted pills. If you face a drug possession or distribution charge, you need a good criminal defense lawyer like Daniel Sandell.

Getting arrested for drug possession and/or intent to distribute in Massachusetts is a very serious matter. Penalties can be harsh, even for a first offense—even if the charge is a misdemeanor rather than a felony. Don’t let the relaxing of the laws applying to small quantities of marijuana – i.e., decriminalization – seduce you into thinking that drug offenses are no longer grave concerns.

If you’ve been arrested for drugs, the prospect of losing your liberty, money, clean record, driving privileges, governmental entitlements such as federal student financial aid, and more is very real. Therefore, any drug charge should be treated with urgency and respect. Although “Class D” offenses, for example, generally don’t carry a penalty that includes imprisonment, a conviction, and the resulting criminal record, can have repercussions throughout a person’s life. Given this fact, it is crucial to do everything possible to avoid that outcome. Retaining an experienced lawyer who is aggressive with your defense is often the only course that will accomplish a satisfactory result.

If the offense occurred while operating or sitting in a motor vehicle, there is the very real threat of loss or suspension of your driver's license and other consequences, which can include loss of employment, expulsion from schools, and loss of State or Federal benefits of many kinds.

Anyone who has been apprehended for possession of the following substances, needs expert legal counsel to ensure the charges are dismissed or strike the best possible deal:

  • More than ounce of marijuana (cannabis) – “pot,” “ganja,” “weed,” “herb,” etc.
  • Cocaine (powdered or “crack”)
  • Heroin
  • Crystal methamphetamine (aka "Meth", including “ice”)
  • Ecstasy (aka "X" or "molly") or psychedelics such as “acid” (LSD) or mushrooms (psilocybin)
  • PCP (phencyclidine or "T")
  • Inhalants such as nitrous oxide (whippets, N2O)

If the police discover paraphernalia such as scales, packets, etc. and/or large quantities of undocumented cash, then more serious trafficking charges are highly likely. In addition to possession or distribution (“possession with intent to sell” or transfer), illegal drug activities may include importing, cultivating, manufacturing, transportation, trafficking or even prescription fraud.

The process of being arrested, charged, and tried involves the taking of statements, booking, determination of bail, arraignment, entering a plea, pre-trial conferences (which is where plea bargains are considered and discussed with the Assistant District Attorney), setting compliance and election dates, and a trial in front of a judge or a judge and jury. But there are a few important points that every prospective drug defendant should know. One should be obvious: Speak to a criminal defense attorney immediately – before saying anything to the police. When being arrested, make no voluntary statements to the arresting officers, even if they seem nice or to be “on your side.” Also, you must be read your Miranda Rights. Take note of when or if you recieve your constitutionally mandated Miranda warning during your arrest and booking.

Another key point is that a good defense attorney will seek to determine whether the seized evidence was taken lawfully – in accordance with the defendant’s Constitutional rights and Massachusetts law. If not, a situation of “illegal search and seizure” may apply, and the lawyer will file a “motion to suppress” by which evidence can be excluded. Getting evidence thrown out of court can be a tremendous advantage to the defendant for the overall disposition of a case and its likely outcome.

The use of illegal drugs for recreational purposes is an unfortunate fact of every society since time began, and while many in the Medical, Social Service and Legal communities see it as more of a Health issue, the Law, for all intents and purposes, still views the use or possession of drugs as a primarily legal issue and will prosecute accordingly. Harsh penalties and life-altering legal consequences are a sad and potentially devastating possible end-result. Our prisons and the legal system are choked with cases of people who have gotten into trouble for drugs and lacked a defense lawyer to advocate for them. In many cases they have no recourse but a court-appointed Public Defender who– while well meaning– almost always have such high case loads that personal attention to each case becomes almost impossible.

An experienced, knowledgeable lawyer is crucial to investigate the charges against you, advise you of your rights under the law given the circumstances of your case, and navigate the complex and treacherous waters of the legal system. Even if a judgement of guilt is unavoidable, an experienced attorney can still advocate for such possible options as mandatory treatment and/or lesser charges. In some cases they can negotiate for a status of “Continued Without a Finding” where a first-time or youthful offender can get the opportunity to reform their ways, make restitution, go through a drug offender treatment program, and stay out of trouble for a period of time in exchange for the charges being dismissed or expunged from their record on successful completion of the court-ordered penalty.

At the Law offices of Daniel M. Sandell , we deal with Western Massachusetts (Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden Counties) dealing with drug-related charges, for first-time and repeat offenders, arguing numerous cases in front of both District and Superior Courts. Call us to set up a free, no-obligation consultation and evaluation at our office in Amherst, Mass., where we will assess your case honestly and advise you of your legal options. If you are incarcerated in jail or prison, we will come to the facility to meet with you.

Please feel free to call us at 413-549-3883 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Want more information? See My Blog:

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We hope you will find the information  on this site helpful. Please be aware that material on this website is provided for informational purposes only and may be considered advertising pursuant to the rules of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The material contained on this website is not intended and should not be intended as legal advice for your individualized matter. This information does not constitute legal advice and does not create or imply an attorney-client relationship. Any readers of this information should not act or rely on any information provided herein without consulting legal counsel. It is cruicial to contact an attorney prior to making any important decisions regarding your legal rights.

Feel Free to contact Dan Sandell at 413-549-3883 to schedule a free consultation. The Law Offices of Daniel Sandell are located in downtown Amherst Massachusetts. We assist clients throughout Western Massachusetts who come to us with DWI/DUI/OUI and various criminal issues



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