Massachusetts Court Affirms Conviction for Drug Possession on “Constructive Possession” Theory

Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Massachusetts drug possession case requiring the court to determine if the evidence presented by the prosecution was sufficient to sustain the defendant’s conviction. Ultimately, the court determined that there was sufficient evidence to find that the plaintiff constructively possessed the drugs.

The Facts of the Case

In January 2015, the defendant’s apartment was searched by police who had a warrant. The police were looking for the defendant’s boyfriend, and when the police located heroin in the defendant’s apartment, they arrested her boyfriend. One of the arresting officers warned the defendant to stay away from the boyfriend.

The next month, police again searched the defendant’s apartment, and again, her boyfriend was present. At the time the police searched the apartment, the defendant was not home. The police asked the defendant’s boyfriend if there were any drugs in the apartment, and he told them that there was some heroin under the dresser in the defendant’s room and that the drugs were his.

The defendant arrived home a short time later and was immediately confronted by police. When asked about the drugs, she denied that they were hers. However, police arrested her and charged her with possession of the heroin.

At trial, the prosecution attempted to inform the jury about the first search of the defendant’s home in January. The defendant’s attorney objected, claiming that the evidence was “terribly prejudicial.” However, the court allowed evidence of the search to be considered by the jury.

As for her defense, the defendant relied only on the lack of evidence tying her to the drugs. However, the jury rejected her defense and found her guilty. The defendant appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence tying her to the drugs and that the trial court should not have let the jury hear about the January search.

The Court’s Opinion

The court affirmed the defendant’s conviction, finding against her on both appellate issues. First, the court held that the defendant’s general objection that evidence of the January search was “terribly prejudicial” was not specific enough to preserve that issue for appellate review. The court explained that a defendant must put on the record the specific basis of the objection in order to allow the trial court to properly consider the objection. Here, since the defendant’s objection did not state the basis, the court considered the issue waived.

Second, the court determined that there was sufficient evidence that the defendant constructively possessed the drugs. The court explained that the location of the drugs, the lack of other adults in the apartment, and the defendant’s knowledge that her boyfriend had previously kept drugs in her apartment, when added together, was enough for the jury to find she constructively possessed the drugs. The court acknowledged that the defendant’s boyfriend claimed ownership of the drugs, but the court noted that the jury was free to discredit this testimony, as apparently was the case.

Have You Been Arrested for a Boston Drug Offense?

If you have recently been arrested for possession of illegal drugs in the Boston area, you need a dedicated Boston drug possession attorney to help you defend against the charges. The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy has been helping individuals accused of serious crimes defend their freedom and rights for over 22 years. Attorney Patrick Murphy has a keen understanding of the Massachusetts criminal court system, including both substantive laws and procedural rules. Attorney Murphy puts this knowledge to use for each of his clients, zealously advocating for their rights. Call 617-367-0450 to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Patrick J. Murphy today.

More Blog Posts:

Illegal Possession of a Dangerous Weapon in Massachusetts, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published February 6, 2018

Search Warrants Obtained After Illegal Search in Massachusetts Meth Crime Case, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published February 8, 2018

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