Drug Distribution and the Intent to Distribute

How are you to understand drug distribution laws, as well as the “intent to distribute” clause that can determine the difference between probation and a long prison sentence?  There is no question that drug distribution and trafficking is illegal.  Any efforts to import cocaine, heroin, LSD, marijuana, methamphetamine or other club drugs into the U.S. carry severe penalties.  There are federal laws as well as state laws put in place to prosecute individuals dabbling into unlawful controlled substances. 

Drug Case Punishments

We know repeat offenders are usually sentenced harshly, but what about first time offenders?  Punishments may vary according to the type of drug, the amount of drugs traded, the amount of money paid for the exchanges, and the geographic area of distribution.  Another pressing issue will be whether the individual attempted to sell illegal substances to a minor. In any case, the potential penalties can be harsh, and seeking the help of a criminal defense lawyer is crucial.

If you need legal assistance for a drug related charge, please consult with a Criminal Defense Lawyer near you to discuss the details of your case. The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only.

In some countries (most notably China and Singapore) a conviction of selling drugs to a minor can lead to capital punishment.  Though this is not happening across the United States, there have been some politicians who advocate this harder approach to drug trafficking.  Even if the individual charged with drug distribution did not directly address the minor but still targeted underage children as customers, they could receive a very heavy prison sentence.  If the alleged distributor was doing business anywhere near a school zone, this could also be construed as an effort to market these substances to minors.

One common problem is the overzealousness demonstrated by some arresting officers.  Ever since the United States began its War on Drugs in the 1970s there has been overreaction to this avenue of crime.  Some police officers have made false accusations in their reports and have attempted to charge people with the intent to distribute, instead of charging a much lesser offense of drug possession.  In some instances, this action could be merited.  However, a police officer who brings a distribution and intent to distribute charge against an individual with little or no evidence is taking this anti-drug approach too far.

Drug Case Offenses

There are four major offenses when it comes to drugs: distribution, possession with the intent to distribute, the manufacturing of drugs, and drug possession.  Excluding drug possession, all of these charges fall under the same statute.  When does a drug possession charge risk becoming intent to distribute?  Usually it’s the total weight of the substance that determines such purpose; anything greater than a gram of cocaine or an ounce of marijuana can be considered “intent to distribute”, at least when it comes to meriting a court trial.

When it’s time to prosecute the State must prove that the suspect had intent to distribute and show circumstantial evidence as well as the weight of the drug.  Among other evidences, the presence of baggies, drug packaging, recorded conversations and witness testimony can be considered as evidence.  Often times, prosecution teams are willing to move for a lesser charge of drug possession when a solid case against drug distribution with intent to distribute is unlikely.

The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only! If you need legal assistance for a drug related charge, please consult with a Criminal Defense Lawyer near you to discuss the details of your case.
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