Anthony M. Salerno

Attorney At Law

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Anthony M. Salerno

Attorney At Law

How proximity affects possession charges

Massachusetts enforces its drug laws very strictly. As a result, according to AdCare Treatment Centers, 14% of its prison population is serving sentences related to drug charges, making it the third most common offense.

However, Massachusetts does not enforce all drug laws equally. Massachusetts has largely decriminalized marijuana though it is still illegal under federal law. Conversely, Massachusetts law is very strict when it comes to heroin, a highly addictive opiate drug. It is possible to face charges of heroin possession even if a person is merely in close proximity to it.

Heroin possession

It is illegal for an individual to be in the presence of someone known to possess heroin or in a place where heroin is present. According to Boston University, this includes dormitory suites on college campuses and private parties. Even if the individual had no control over the drug and made no contact with it, he or she could still face criminal charges and penalties including a $1,000 fine or a year in prison. However, the law does require that the individual so charged has knowledge of the presence of heroin.

Good Samaritan law

The Good Samaritan law is an exception to the rule that people in proximity to heroin can face possession charges. A heroin overdose can be fatal, and quick medical attention is necessary to reverse the effects. Therefore, a person who attempts to revive someone from an overdose or reports it in the interest of summoning help for the individual is exempt from charges of possession or other drug offenses.

Without the Good Samaritan law, hesitancy to expose oneself to possession charges could result in more overdose deaths.