Drug Possession vs. Drug Distribution: Everything You Need To Know

Under both federal and state laws, the willful possession of illegal controlled substances is a crime.

If you ever get arrested for drug possession, know that you are facing a serious charge that carries penalties that include fines and jail time. However, if authorities ever find evidence that you had the intent to distribute or sell the drugs found in your possession, then you are liable to face drug distribution charges, whose consequences are more severe than those for simple drug possession.

Whether you’re facing drug possession or drug distribution charges, you are going to need the services of an experienced drug lawyer to represent you in court.

Let’s take a look at some facts about drug possession and see how it could turn into a more serious drug distribution charge.

Types of drug possession

What constitutes drug possession depends on factors such as the type and amount of drug found in your possession and the state wherein you were caught. And while state and federal laws covering drug possession may vary in certain aspects, authorities will make an arrest once they determine that a person has the ability to control the drug.

The law provides for two types of drug possession.

One is actual possession, also referred to as “possession in fact,” where the drug is found on the suspect’s person, or the suspect was caught having immediate physical contact with the drug.

The other type is called constructive possession, which is also called “possession in law.” When a person is charged with constructive possession, it usually means he or she had knowledge of, access to, and the ability to control the drugs found, even when the substances were not on their person at the time of arrest. One or more people can be charged with constructive possession, like in the case of drugs found in an apartment to which multiple people have the keys.

Intent to distribute

When the amount of drugs found in a person’s possession is so small or limited, it suggests that the substances were for personal use, which means the defendant will only deal with a simple possession case.

However, if the person was found to have an unusually large amount of drugs as well as cash in his or her possession, the authorities will likely assume that the person had the intent to distribute those drugs, and they will build a case to prove this in court.

A more serious crime than drug possession, drug distribution is a felony charge that awaits those arrested for selling, transporting, and illegally importing heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, and other illicit controlled substances.

Consequences of drug possession and drug distribution

Defendants charged with simple drug possession face penalties that may vary from state to state. They include fines, jail or prison time, probation, and suspension of their license to drive.

Drug distribution, on the other hand, is usually a felony, which means the consequences are much more severe, with heftier fines and longer jail or prison sentences. Penalties for drug distribution may vary depending on the type and amount of the drug in question, and the laws of the state where the crime was committed.

The said penalties are also going to be harsher when certain aggravating factors are present, such as selling drugs to a minor or on school grounds, history of drug arrest, and distributing the drugs while armed.

Should you find yourself facing drug-related charges, make sure you hire an attorney who has experience in handling such cases. Drug lawyers know more about both state and federal drug laws, and are therefore better equipped to help you get the best possible results.

This article was submitted by an Arizona Drug Lawyer.  For help with Florida Drug issues please contact our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyers.


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