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Understanding possession / possession with intent to sell or distribute drug laws

  • December 4, 2013

Possession of controlled substances with the intention to sell to distribute is a felony under the federal and state laws in the US. Both possession with intent to sell or distribute and simple possession carry different penalties and are treated differently under the two jurisdictions with possession with intent carrying harsher punishment since it is considered a felony crime. Drug felony acts in different states slaps a minimum mandatory sentence for possession of drugs exceeding a certain amount. Additionally, penalties for drug possession are determined by various sentencing laws which are very influential with the sitting judges despite the fact that they are advisory in nature.

Determining the crime of possession / possession with intent to sell or distribute

First of all, it is important to understand that both possessions with intent to sell and with the intent to distribute are treated equally under the law. During sentencing, the jury is required to establish the following factors:

  • · That indeed the accused was in possession of drugs intending to distribute
  • · That the accused possessed the drugs knowingly and willingly.

The jury is not obligated to establish or prove that the accused intended to sell the controlled substances. This means if one is arrested for example in possession of a bag containing a huge amount of cocaine or marijuana will be and can be charged for possession with intent to distribute and convicted for the drug felony. The jury in this case does not need any evidence proving that the accused person intended to sell the substance or deliver to someone else. In such cases, the quantity of drugs possessed by the offender acts as a proof enough that the accused was in possession of the said drugs with intent to distribute.

How criminal defense team can approach these charges

One of the legal tools that can be used by the defense team during such cases is to proof that the accused did not know that he or she was in possession of such controlled substances. The defense must show that the accused person did not have any control on the presence of the drugs whatsoever and therefore not in possession of the same. On the other hand, possession of a small amount of drugs judged to be for personal consumption could carry a diversion sentencing and especially if one is a first time offender. This will require the offender to attend a drug program and avoid any criminal activities before the charges are dismissed.

Sentencing for possession / possession with intent to sell or distribute varies greatly based on the amount and the nature of drugs confiscated. This means that sentencing for marijuana possession with intent to distribute will carry a harsher sentence than possession of cocaine with intent to distribute or sell. Getting a qualified and experienced attorney is always the right move to make in such cases as poor defense could see you serving a prolonged jail term in any state.