Appeals Court Reverses Conviction for Distributing Heroin and Possessing Marijuana as Evidence was Insufficient

February 1, 2013
By Parker Scheer LLP on February 1, 2013 10:51 AM |

Joshua Sota and his family had something to celebrate during the holidays after the Massachusetts Appeals Court reversed Soto's earlier conviction for distributing heroin and possessing marijuana. According to the Appeals Court the evidence used to convict Soto was not sufficient to convict him of distributing heroin, and while the evidence was sufficient to convict him of possessing marijuana that conviction was also reversed due to the erroneous admission of drug certifications without live testimony by the certifying chemist.

" ... Even viewed in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, the evidence did not support a conviction of distribution of a class A substance beyond a reasonable doubt. ... There was no evidence of what, if anything, happened while the defendant and Ramos were in the automobile. They were not observed to lean towards each other, or to make any sort of a hand-to-hand transaction or movement. In fact, they were not observed to do anything at all while in the car. ... "

Further "the officer's testimony, which was not qualified as that of an expert, that the duration of the ride was similar to what he had seen in unrelated drug transactions, was alone insufficient to permit the jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that a drug transaction occurred during this particular ride. Moreover, because there was no evidence as to the value of the heroin found near Ramos, the fact that a $20 bill was found between the seat and the console of the car did not support an inference that it related to, or resulted from, the sale of the drug."

Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 94C Section 32, the distribution of heroin is a Class A substance. For a first offense, individuals convicted of the crime face up to 2 ½ years in jail or 10 years in state prison. For a second offense, individuals face a mandatory minimum prison term of 5 years, up to 15 years.

Individuals found guilty of possessing marijuana can be sentenced up to 6 months in jail and fined up to $500. However, if the individual has not previously been convicted of possessing marijuana and has no other drug related convictions, the case will likely be continued without a finding requiring the individual to successfully complete probation after which your case will be dismissed. A second offense can result in a 2 year jail sentence and a fine of up to $2,000.

If you or a family member has been charged with criminal activity, please contact Parker | Scheer LLP for a free consultation with one of our experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers.