Seldom do people think that they can go to jail for selling a few allergy pills as ecstasy or a bag of flower as cocaine. It’s a common misconception that simply selling products you can get at the grocery store can land you in trouble with the law. The reality is, if you sell any item that you’re trying to pass off as an illegal drug, it is still illegal. In fact, you could be facing both state and federal charges for your actions.
Massachusetts Law Banning Counterfeit Drugs
Massachusetts General Law Chapter 94C, Section 32G makes it illegal for anyone to knowingly or intentionally:
- Dispensing, or
- Possessing a counterfeit substance,
- With the intent to distribute or dispense.
Penalties associated with this offense include:
- Up to 1 year of jail time;
- A fine between $250 and $2,500; or
- Both jail time and a fine
This law applies to any attempt to sell fake drugs within the State of Massachusetts. If someone attempts to sell counterfeit drugs from Massachusetts to another state, then federal laws may also apply.
Federal Anti-Counterfeit Drug Laws
The federal law counterpart to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 94C, Section 32G is 21 U.S.C. Section 331, which makes it illegal to sell an adulterated or misbranded drug in interstate commerce. This means that if you take a bottle of aspirin from Massachusetts to New Hampshire, and sell it to someone representing that bottle of aspirin to be ecstasy, then you may find yourself facing charges under section 331.
In addition, it is possible that you may be charged under 18 U.S.C. Section 1001, which addresses criminal fraud. According to this federal law, you could be charged for knowingly and willfully:
- Falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact;
- Making any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation; or
- Making or using any false writing or document knowing that it contains materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statements.
Proving Criminal Fraud in Fake Drug Sales
It may sound harmless, but telling someone that the substance they are about to ingest is an illegal drug, when it is as relatively harmless as aspirin, is illegal and can land you in prison.
The government will need to prove two elements to convict on criminal fraud charges:
- You intentionally made the false statement about the drug you knew to be untrue.
- The false statement that you made was material.
A key distinction can be made if we look at a slightly different set of facts. If someone handed you a bottle of pills and told you that it contained ecstasy and told you to go sell them to someone, and you do, you will not have intentionally made a false statement about the pills because you didn’t know that they were really aspirin. Under this set of facts, you would not be convicted of criminal fraud, but you would still likely be charged with other state and federal drug charges.
If you are facing charges related to selling fake drugs, you could be facing up to 30 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines for federal offenses. You need a DEA-trained narcotics investigator on your side. The criminal defense attorneys at Keegan Law are available 24/7 to help you if you’re in a bind. Contact us online or call (617) 799-7644 to talk to the experts.