Argued November 10, 2014
Complaint received and sworn to in the Central Division of the Boston Municipal Court Department on November 15, 2012.
Entry of judgment dismissing the complaint was ordered by Raymond G. Dougan, Jr., J.
Ryan A. Pavao ( Donna Jalbert Patalano, Assistant District Attorney, with him) for the Commonwealth.
Kathleen M. Kelly for the defendant.
Present: Kantrowitz, Graham, & Katzmann, JJ. 
[26 N.E.3d 1108] Katzmann, J.
This case is before us on an appeal by the Commonwealth from an order by a Boston Municipal Court judge sua sponte dismissing the drug distribution complaint without prejudice against the defendant, Laura Butler, on all counts and over the objection of the Commonwealth where the Commonwealth had not provided a certificate of drug analysis (drug certificate) of the defendant's prescription medication because no certificate had yet been created. We vacate the order of dismissal.
On November 14, 2012, in the course of a police investigation of drug activity in the area of Haymarket and Government Center in Boston, the defendant was arrested after two police officers observed her providing nineteen prescription pills in exchange for twenty dollars; a prescription bottle obtained
from the defendant's purse had the defendant's name on it and contained nine white oval tablets with the letters " G 13" imprinted on them. On November 15, 2012, the Boston Municipal Court issued a criminal complaint [26 N.E.3d 1109] against the defendant alleging two counts of distributing a class E controlled substance (gabapentin), and two counts of distributing a controlled substance near a school or park. The matter was originally scheduled for pretrial hearing on January 24, 2013, continued for pretrial hearing to April 12, 2013, and continued a second time for pretrial hearing to July 17, 2013. The reasons for the continuances do not appear on the record.
The entirety of the July 17, 2013, pretrial hearing progressed as follows:
The clerk: " Matter of Laura Butler."
The court: " What are you requesting today, [defense counsel]?"
Defense counsel: " Judge, I used the time to reach out to the D.A.'s office and they indicated they're going to have to speak to [one of the other prosecutors], but if you look at the booking photo of [the defendant] and her appearance today, she is in, you know, much better shape. She's been involved in a program called the CSAC Community Substance Abuse up in Chelsea, Mass. She's been volunteering at the M.S. -- Prevention of Cruelty to Animals group. She's also involved with a therapist and a hands-on physician that she's been dealing with. She has, as you can see, not re-offended. She only goes to the Haymarket area now in order to -- if she needs a bus. But obviously right now this was prescription drugs that she had at that time, and the allegation is that she distributed them to an undercover police officer. Given what she's doing now and everything else, I've basically been trying to reach out to the D.A.'s office to see what we can do about getting rid of the school-zone charges, given that she, as I said, used the last eight and a half months to address this problem."
The court: " And --"
Defense counsel: " And I don't -- I haven't gotten the certs [certificates of drug analysis] yet either, but I -- I mean, as they were prescription ...