Supreme Judicial Court, August 23, 2013

Sections 14 and 48 of the 2012 Crime Bill, which effectively reduced the mandatory minimum sentence under G.L. c. 94C, § 32A (d) from five years to three and one-half years, apply to a defendant who committed an offense prior to the effective date of the reduction, but whose conviction and sentencing occurred after  the Bill’s effective date. 

The Supreme Judicial Court considered the legislative intent of the Crime Bill.  It found that "one of its primary purposes was to significantly reduce the sentences to be served by individuals under the mandatory minimum provisions of a wide range of drug- related offenses, including § 32A (d)."  Section 48 of the Crime Bill "demonstrates a clear legislative intent to confer backward-looking relief to individuals who had already been convicted of violating § 32A (d) and had been sentenced at the time of the Crime Bill's enactment.”  Therefore, "[i]t would be anomalous, if not absurd, in this context to conclude that the Legislature intended to provide reductions for everyone except the limited class of persons who committed offenses before the amendments but were not convicted and sentenced until after the amendments' effective date."

NOTE: This decision did not decide the issue of whether the new school zone measurement and drug weights enumerated in the 2012 Crime Bill should be applied retroactively to defendants whose offense date is before the Bill’s effective date but there was no adjudication when the Bill became effective.The school zone measurement issue is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Judicial Court in October in Commonwealth v. Pagan, SJC 11456 and Commonwealth v. Bradley, SJC 11457.