Drug Possession vs. Possession with Intent to Distribute: What’s the Difference?

Drug charges for simple possession versus drug trafficking often come down to the amount of drugs allegedly in your possession when you were arrested. But drug trafficking, also known as possession with intent to distribute, is treated much more seriously, and the penalties are significantly more severe.

Police Use Circumstantial Evidence To Prove a Case of Drug Trafficking

To charge someone with drug trafficking, law enforcement will look for other evidence that shows intent to distribute. Most important is the amount of a controlled substance in your possession. Police will also look for circumstantial evidence that shows you intended to sell drugs.

Quantity of Drugs

To prove a drug trafficking case, police will point to the quantity of drugs in your possession, claiming that it is more than what a reasonable person would have for personal use. Circumstantial evidence can also include possession of drug paraphernalia commonly used for packaging, weighing, and distributing drugs.

Drug Paraphernalia

Drug paraphernalia is any equipment, material, or accessory used for manufacturing, using, concealing, or distributing drugs. Prosecutors cite the presence of drug paraphernalia to prove that you intended to sell drugs. This is especially true when the drug paraphernalia in your possession can be used to prepare and package drugs for sale or distribution.

Drug trafficking paraphernalia can include scales used to weigh drugs, large amounts of cash, pay/owe sheets, and even plastic baggies that can be used to package drugs for distribution.

Police will also point to frequent and brief meetings with visitors to your home to try to prove drug possession with intent to distribute.

What To Do If You Were Charged with Drug Trafficking

You can be charged with drug trafficking even if you have not actually sold any drugs. Prosecutors will try to show that you were in possession of a controlled substance and planned to sell or distribute it, even if you were going to distribute it for free or use it with friends.

Drug trafficking charges are much more serious than charges for drug possession, and the penalties are much more severe. The specific penalties you face will vary depending on the amount and type of controlled substance you are charged with possessing.

If you have been charged with a drug crime, don’t say anything and contact the defense team at Just Criminal Law as quickly as possible.

Defending Against Drug Trafficking Charges

If you have been charged with drug trafficking, several defenses may be available.

Lack of Possession

One of the most effective strategies to defend against drug trafficking charges is to show that you were not in possession of drugs. To prove possession with intent, police must show that you had access to or control over the drugs. But if other people had access to the drugs, you can argue that the drugs were not yours. This defense is most effective when you share a house with roommates or when drugs are found in a car with multiple occupants.

No Intent to Distribute

Even if you knowingly possess drugs, you may be able to claim that you had no intent to sell or otherwise distribute the drugs. If your lawyer can have the drug trafficking charges dismissed, you will face the less severe charge of drug possession and may be able to avoid prison by participating in a drug rehabilitation program.

Suppressing Evidence

You might be able to avoid conviction if your lawyer can show that evidence was illegally obtained. Illegally obtained evidence cannot be used to convict you. If the police failed to follow proper protocols and procedures, such as if they lacked probable cause, illegally performed a search, or did not read you your Miranda rights, evidence could be excluded from trial, which could lead to a favorable resolution in your case.

Just Criminal Law: Protecting Your One Shot at Justice

If you are facing drug trafficking charges in Wyoming or South Dakota, you need an experienced criminal defense team on your side. Just Criminal Law will conduct an independent investigation, challenge the evidence against you, and fight to protect your rights.

Learn why clients choose us and meet our team, then contact us today to schedule your personalized case review and strategy session.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.

Categories: Drug Charges