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Matthew Radefeld & Dan Juengel
Matthew A. Radefeld and Daniel A. Juengel

When does possession become intent to distribute?

On Behalf of | May 8, 2024 | Drug Crimes |

Federal law differentiates between simple possession of a controlled substance like cocaine and possession with intent to distribute. But where exactly is the line drawn?

Understanding the factors that define intent to distribute, especially for narcotics like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, is important for anyone who is at risk of being subjected to drug charges.

Simple possession vs. intent to distribute

Simple possession can be established when you have a controlled substance on your person or within your control. The severity of the charge you may face depends on the type of drug in question and its amount. Conversely, possession with intent to distribute is when the prosecution can prove you not only possessed the drug but also intended to sell, deliver or distribute it to others.

Intent: The key distinction

Intent is the basis of the matter. While simple possession might involve a small amount for personal use, intent to distribute suggests a larger quantity meant for further transactions. It’s important to note that the law doesn’t provide a clear-cut threshold amount. Instead, police and prosecutors rely on circumstantial evidence to establish your intent.

Red flags for intent to distribute

While not a definitive rule, possessing a large amount of a narcotic is a red flag. The prosecution will likely assume that the drugs are not for your personal consumption. Additionally, drugs divided into individual doses, baggies or other packaging typically used for sales can be incriminating.

Moreover, the presence of scales, baggies, cutting agents or large amounts of cash can indicate preparation for distribution. Furthermore, evidence of communication suggesting sales or distribution attempts can strengthen the case against you. A history of drug-related offenses can also be used to imply intent in future cases.

It’s important to remember that intent to distribute doesn’t solely rely on the amount of drugs found. Someone caught with a smaller quantity but possessing packaging materials and scales might face a more serious charge than someone with a larger amount for personal use.

Suppose you get arrested for possession of a controlled substance. You can benefit from involving an experienced legal team immediately. They can scrutinize the evidence, identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and help you secure a favorable outcome.