Possession of illegal drugs is a serious federal offense. When possession charges include the intent to distribute, however, penalties are generally even more severe and can earn you a felony if you receive a conviction.
If you are facing drug possession charges, you may have questions regarding when the intent to distribute comes into play. To answer this question, it is helpful to look at both elements of possession charges.
Charges of drug possession
According to FindLaw, possession charges are not as cut-and-dry as they may first appear. Possession charges extend beyond an officer finding drugs on your person. You can also receive a possession charge if they find drugs in your purse, vehicle or house. Additionally, you may see charges of possession by consumption if officers find you intoxicated, but do not find drugs anywhere.
Some possession cases can get complicated. For example, if officers find drugs in your car and you had no idea they were present, you can still receive a possession charge if the prosecution proves that you should have known they were there.
Charges of possession with intent to distribute
In certain cases, a charge of the intent to distribute drugs will accompany a possession charge. This typically occurs when law enforcement finds drugs in such a high quantity that it is unlikely it is just for personal consumption. Because the government cannot get inside your mind to discern if you intended to sell the drugs, other evidence may come into play such as packaging supplies, evidence of a customer base and large amounts of cash. External circumstances play a large part in this type of charge.