How is possession different from intent to distribute charges?

Being charged with drug possession by itself is a serious enough of an offense. When accompanied by accusations that you intended to distribute it as well, though, it can make potential penalities far worse if you're convicted of such a crime. It's because of this that you may wonder what leads police to charge you with possession with an intent to distribute.

Most state laws mirror federal ones when it comes to how drug crimes are defined. It's because of this that most law enforcement agencies understand the concept of possession to refer to more than just someone having drugs in their pockets, on them, in their belongings or in their hands. An individual can be charged with possession whether the drug is in his or her car or home as well.

In any of the circumstances described above, it's necessary to prove that the suspect had prior knowledge of the presence of drugs. They must have either personally received or obtained them or otherwise have known about their existence, yet made no efforts to destroy them.

Within some jurisdictions, prosecutors rely simply on the fact that an suspect "should have known" of the presence of drugs on his or her person or within his or her house or car for moving forward in trying a case.

When it comes to proving that an individual had an intent to distribute a drug, prosecutors rely heavily on making circumstantial assumptions or inferences. One common reason an individual may be charged with an intent to distribute a drug is if a suspect is found to be in possession of far more of it than he or she could consume him or herself.

An individual may be brought up on intent to distribute charges if he or she is found to also be in possession of packaging materials, drug paraphernalia or large sums of cash. If evidence of communication with customers is found, then that may serve as evidence of an intent to distribute as well.

In order for an individual to be arrested and charged with possession with an intent to distribute, both the drugs and evidence suggesting that distribution of it occurring must both be present simultaneously.

If you've been arrested and charged with a narcotics offense, then a Christiansburg attorney can advise you of the potential penalties you're looking at in your case.

Source: FindLaw, "Possession with the intent to distribute," accessed March 08, 2018

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