In Massachusetts, possession with intent to distribute is a felony drug charge, regardless of the type of drug the defendant is accused of having. Those convicted of possession with intent to distribute may face up to two years in jail for a first offense. Second and subsequent offenses may carry more serious sentences depending on the type of drug and circumstances of the case. Those accused of selling or intending to distribute drugs in a school zone may be subject to sentence enhancement.
An accused will be found in violation of Massachusetts law prohibiting the distribution of controlled substances on or near school property if they are within 300 feet of a public or private preschool, headstart facility, elementary, vocational or secondary school or within 100 feet of a public park or playground between the hours of 5:00 a.m. and midnight. It does not matter if the school is in session or whether the defendant knew that he or she was near a school.
Those convicted of violating this section are subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison. They may receive a sentence of imprisonment for two to 15 years and additional penalties including a fine between $1,000 and $10,000. Anyone serving the mandatory minimum will be eligible for parole after serving half of the maximum term unless there are certain aggravating circumstances.
Aggravating circumstances leading to ineligibility for parole are if the defendant used threats of violence or was in possession of a weapon during the commission of the offense, someone else committed a felony at the direction of the defendant, the defendant intentionally distributed to individuals under the age of 18 or the defendant induced someone under the age of 18 to distribute, dispense or possess a controlled substance. Given all these possible penalties – a two-year mandatory minimum sentence, up to 15 years imprisonment, up to $10,000 fine and ineligibility for parole – possession with intent to distribute near a school zone is among the most serious drug-related felonies and it requires a strong defense.