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What is possession with intent to distribute?

On Behalf of | Jan 21, 2021 | blog, Criminal Defense, Drug Charges

Someone arrested for drug possession could face serious charges in Maryland. When the charges include “possession with intent to distribute,” the accused could look at a harsh sentence. Charges might be on the state or federal level although the elements necessary to convict on the crime do not change. There must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Possession vs. possession with the intent to distribute

“Possession” involves being in control of the drugs. Drugs found in someone’s pocket, car trunk or briefcase may lead to reasonable assumptions that the person has possession of the contraband. Possession isn’t limited to proximity, though, as a person may control the drugs when they are inside the individual’s home or garage miles away.

Another element comes into play when establishing possession: knowledge. The person must know the drugs are there. A homeowner who legitimately doesn’t know there are drugs in his or her house might not be guilty of possession.

Possession may not automatically involve “intent to distribute.” A person with a minimal amount of drugs might intend to use the substances alone. Intent to distribute involves selling or otherwise moving the drugs. Proof of intent comes in different forms besides quantity, such as text messages revealing a decision to sell drugs.

Defense and legal rights

Individuals accused of drug crimes have rights, and federal and state agents must follow the law when carrying out arrests. If a police officer lacks probable cause to pull a vehicle over and performs an illegal search, a defense attorney may seek to have any evidence suppressed.

Questions about possession might come up as well. Did the person have control of a drug stash? If it turns out the drugs belong to someone else and the accused had nothing to do with the contraband, a case against the accused could be weak. Even those who face a likely conviction might have options for a plea bargain. Asking for leniency during sentencing is an approach an attorney might take.

Possession with intent to distribute remains a serious criminal law violation. Those facing state or federal charges may need to consult with an attorney to discuss a defense strategy.