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What constitutes possession with the intent to distribute?

Whether it is a search following a traffic stop or a search of a home, when law enforcement locates drugs in the possession of a suspect, this could result in drug charges. Any drug crime has the potential of carrying serious penalties; however, when the accused is found with a certain amount of a controlled substance, this could result in more than just a possession charge.

If authorities believe that the accused has the intent to distribute the drug in his or her possession, this could result in a more serious charge. But how does law enforcement prove such intent? Simply put, the amount or quantity of the drug in question could answer that.

What constitutes possession with the intent to distribute? There are three elements to this drug crime. The first is possession. This means that a person is not merely holding an illegal drug but is also in control of it. The next element is intent to distribute. This focuses on what the suspect was planning or intending to do. This is typically illustrated when the accused is holding an amount of a drug that is far too large to be for personal use.

The third and final element is possession with the intent to distribute. This can only occur if the first two elements are proven. Thus, if the quantity of drugs in the accused possession is small, then they could only face possession charges. And if the accused has the intent to distribute but is not in possession yet, then they could only face a charge for the intent to distribute with an attempt to possess.

Those facing drug crimes, such as possession with the intent to distribute should take the time to understand what elements are involved and what evidence is used to obtain a conviction.. This can help with the defense process, opening up the opportunity to reduce or dismiss the charges.

Source:, "Possession with the Intent to Distribute," Dec. 18, 2017

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