As drug laws in St. Louis are becoming stricter, more and more defendants are being charged with drug distribution charges in addition to simple possession. This charge carries much more significant penalties and is easy to include alongside other charges.
Possession with intent to distribute
Missouri law states that “knowingly possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute or deliver any amount of said controlled substance” is a Class C felony. This can be punishable by between three to ten years in state prison, in addition to a fine of up to $10,000. An exception is if you are found to have 35 grams or less of marijuana, you may only be charged with a Class E felony, which has a maximum sentence of four years. A possession with intent to distribute charge can be, and often is, combined with other drug charges in an effort to extend maximum sentences. These can include charges of drug manufacturing or illegally obtaining a controlled substance.
How is “intent to distribute” determined?
Oftentimes, circumstantial evidence can be used to show that you were intending to distribute or sell drugs. In general, the amount of drugs found in your possession has to be enough to conclude that it was too much for one person to use. That amount can vary from person to person and from substance to substance. It is also usually thought of as being very subjective, which theoretically makes it difficult for prosecutors to prove. Other circumstantial evidence, such as possession of plastic bags, twist ties, a scale or loose cash, can often be enough to prove an intent to distribute.
Distribution in a protected location
This distribution charge carries a much higher sentence of ten to thirty years in prison and is considered a Class A felony. A protected location is defined as a location that is:
- Within 2,000 feet of a public or private, elementary, vocation or secondary school
- Within 1,000 feet of a park
- In or on property that is comprised of public housing or other government-assisted housing
Additionally, if delivery is made to a minor, which is defined as an individual less than 17 years of age and at least two years younger than yourself, it becomes a Class B felony, which carries a sentence of five to fifteen years, or ten to thirty years for repeat offenders. This also applies if it is determined that you knowingly permitted a minor to purchase or transport an illegally obtained controlled substance.