If you are found in possession of an illicit substance, you can be charged with possession with an intent to distribute, which can lead to serious criminal and legal penalties. The penalties can depend on the quantity of illicit drugs in your possession and the type of drugs in your possession.
For example, possessing less than 2.2 pounds of marijuana can lead to a misdemeanor and a $6,000 fine, while possessing more than 2.2 pounds of marijuana can lead to a class C felony, a $15,000 fine, and up to ten years in jail.
If you are accused of selling drugs, you should know what strategies and options you have to defend yourself.
How to Avoid Being Charged with Possession
The possession of controlled substances is illegal on a federal level and is also illegal in most states. To be in possession, the drug would need to be within your means of control. For example, you would be in possession if controlled substances were found within your car.
If you can prove that you had absolutely no access to these drugs, you may have these charges dropped. For instance, if someone else was borrowing your car, you could argue that you did not have access to the controlled substance at the time.
Also, if you discover that you are in possession of a controlled substance you were not aware of, you are required to take steps to dispose of it. If you do not take these steps, you may still be found responsible for possession of a controlled substance. In some cases, you may even be charged if you should have known that you would be in possession of an illegal substance.
How to Avoid an "Intent to Distribute" Charge
Drug possession with intent to distribute is a much more serious crime. Because there is no way to read your mind and know your exact intentions, the arresting officer and the prosecutor are responsible for proving that you intended to distribute drugs because of prior statements or because of the surrounding circumstances.
For example, if you were in a location that is commonly used to sell controlled substances or if you sent a text message that indicated that you intended to sell a controlled substance, this can be used as evidence of an intent to distribute.
The quantity of the drugs in your possession is often used to determine whether you had the intent to distribute. If you own more than you would be able to reasonably consume, this would suggest that you intended to sell. Also, how the drugs are packaged can suggest that you were selling the drugs.
If you are convicted of possession with an intent to distribute, you will face a felony charge that will come with stiffer penalties. Therefore, even if you cannot avoid a possession charge, you could argue that the drugs were for personal use so you will only be charged with possession.
The Duress Defense
If you were forced to sell drugs under duress, you may be able to use this as a reason to have your charges dropped. For this to be the case, you must be under the threat of harm, your fear must be reasonable, and you must have no means of escape.
Another way to have charges reduced or dropped is to demonstrate that the officer did not have a search warrant and violated your rights by searching your property. You may also have the charges dropped by proving that the drugs were not a controlled substance. However, some states have laws in which the attempt to distribute fake drugs could lead to a separate set of charges.
Because of the severity of a drug distribution charge, you must contact an attorney immediately if you are accused of possessing or selling drugs. Simms & Associates are dedicated to protecting your rights. Contact us today to get the representation you deserve.