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MASSACHUSETTS SEARCH WARRANT LAW
POSSESSION, DISTRIBUTION, AND TRAFFICKING OF DRUGS

Were you charged with possession, distribution, or trafficking of drugs in Massachusetts as a result of the execution of a search warrant? If so, you need an experienced Massachusetts drug crimes defense attorney to review the possible challenges to the search warrant in your case.

A search warrant must be supported by an affidavit containing sufficient factual information establishing probable cause. The evidence sought must be related to the criminal activity under investigation and must reasonably be expected to be located in the place to be searched. If the search warrant was not based on probable cause or was not executed appropriately, a successful challenge may likely result in the suppression of the evidence against you.

Massachusetts drug crimes lawyer James Powderly has significant experience challenging search warrants in drug cases ranging from simple possession to large scale trafficking. When faced with prosecution in Massachusetts for possession, distribution, or trafficking of drugs and any or all of the evidence was seized by a search warrant, you need an aggressive and knowledgeable drug crimes lawyer to review your case.

Recent MA Search Warrant Defense Victories

Although results obtained depend on the facts of each case, and each case is different, the following search warrant cases are representative:

Charges:
(1) Unlawful Distribution of Heroin
(2) Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin
(3) Conspiracy to Violate Drug Laws
(4) Assault and Battery

Police Report: Police members of a street crimes unit execute a search warrant where the defendant and two other individuals are located. The defendant attempts to flee when the police are unable to gain entry through a barricaded door. The defendant is alleged to have escaped to the roof of the building where rocks were thrown at the chasing police. The defendant was apprehended and the police seized Heroin and large amounts of cash.
RESULTS:
(1) Plea to 1 count of simple possession of Heroin and sentenced to the time he had been held on bail (less then 4 months)
(2) Nolle Prossed
(3) Nolle Prossed
(4) Nolle Prossed


Charge: Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Laws
Police Report: The police executed a search warrant at a residence where the defendant is one of three individuals present. The police located drug contraband, including a scale, large amounts of cash and packaged cocaine.
RESULT: DISMISSED

Charges:
(1) Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Laws
(2) Trafficking 14 grams or more of Cocaine
(3) Drug Violation in a School Zone

Police Report: Police executed a search warrant at a Fall River apartment. Upon entry into the apartment, the defendant (along with other individuals) is found in the residence. The defendant is located in the kitchen next to 61.5 grams of crack cocaine, a black digital scale, a box of sandwich bags, and 2.9 grams of marijuana.
RESULTS:
(1) Plea to 1 count of Simple Possession of Cocaine to be dismissed after successfully completing 1 year unsupervised probation (CWOF)
(2) DISMISSED
(3) DISMISSED

10 Challenges to Massachusetts Search Warrants

1. Does the search warrant affidavit establish probable cause?

- Under Massachusetts State Law, search warrants may be issued only upon a showing of probable cause. Evidence seized without the requisite showing of probable cause is inadmissible at trial.
- Probable Cause Standard: Facts and circumstances such as to warrant a man of reasonable prudence and caution in believing that an offense has been committed.

2. Did the informant have a sufficient basis of knowledge of the purported criminal activity?

3. Has the informant provided reliable information to the police in the past?

- Unnamed / Police Informants - Where hearsay from an unnamed informant is the basis of the police action, the police must have a substantial basis for crediting the hearsay. Two requirements must be met in order to establish the credibility of the hearsay information: (1) there must be some underlying circumstances on which the police officer concluded that the contraband was where it was claimed to be (basis of knowledge), and (2) there must be some underlying facts and circumstances to conclude that the informant was credible or that his information was reliable (veracity).
- Citizen Informants - These are subject to much less stringent credibility verification requirements that ordinary police informants, since they generally lack the ulterior motives of police informants.

4. Has information from the informant previously led to seizure of drugs, arrests and/or convictions?

- Disclosure of the Identity of the Confidential Informant - Where the disclosure of a confidential informant’s identity, or the contents of his communication, is relevant and helpful to the defense of an accused, or is essential to a fair determination of a cause, the Government’s privilege against disclosure must give way.

5. Did the police corroborate the informant’s information?

6. Does the affidavit properly describe the items to be seized?

- The affidavit must contain enough information for the issuing magistrate to determine that the items sought are related to the criminal activity under investigation.
- In each case, the basic question is whether the magistrate had a substantial basis for concluding that any of the articles described in the warrant are properly in the place to be searched.

7. Does the affidavit properly describe the places to be searched?

- The affidavit must contain enough information for the issuing magistrate to determine that the items sought may reasonably be expected to be located in the place to be searched.
- Parking Space - If the parking space is beyond the curtilage of the defendant’s apartment, the search warrant for the defendant’s apartment did not extend to it.
- Search of the Automobile - The scope of a warrant authorizing the search of a particularly described premises includes automobiles owned or controlled by the owner thereof which are found on the premises.

8. Did the police wait too long after the warrant was issued to execute it?

- Staleness - Factors such as the nature of the criminal activity under investigation and the nature of the evidence sought have a bearing on what constitutes excessive remoteness. Further, when the informant indicates engagement in protracted and continuous drug distribution, precise time is of less significance.

9. Did the police knock and announce their presence prior to entering the premises?

- General Rule - Before attempting forcibly to enter a private dwelling to execute a warrant, police must knock, announce their identity, and state their purpose, unless the circumstances justify dispensing with one or all of these requirements.
- No Knock Warrants - For permission to execute a no-knock warrant, the police must convince the issuing magistrate that probable cause exists to believe that the evidence will be destroyed if the ‘knock and announce’ rule is not disposed with. The fact that drugs are involved, by itself, is insufficient to provide the necessary showing.
- Consensual Entry by Ruse - A consensual entry, even if obtained by ruse or trickery, will not violate the ‘knock and announce’ rule.

10. Did the police properly execute the search warrant? Did they search the right person/place?

Attorney James Powderly defends individuals facing Massachusetts Drug Possession, Distribution, Trafficking and Conspiracy Charges in: Allston, Arlington, Attleboro, Belmont, Boston, Braintree, Brighton, Brockton, Brookline, Cambridge, Charlestown, Dedham, Everett, Fall River, Framingham, Gloucester, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Lawrence, Lexington, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Medford, Middlesex County, New Bedford, Needham, Newton, Norfolk County, Plymouth, Quincy, Revere, Roxbury, Salem, Saugus, Somerville, South Boston, Springfield, Suffolk County, Taunton, Walpole, Waltham, Wareham, Watertown, West Roxbury, Winchester, Worcester, Worcester County, Wrentham, and the Cape Cod Region including Barnstable and Falmouth.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this or associated pages, documents, comments, answers, emails, or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information on this website is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.