Hampton Roads Drug Possession With Intent to Distribute Prosecution

Possession with intent to distribute is when someone has a drug and is not necessarily going to use it themselves but is going to either sell it, give it, or make sure it gets into the hands of another person. During Hampton Roads possession with intent to distribute prosecution, the prosecutor just has to show that the person had the drugs and was intending to sell them and not use them. A skilled criminal defense attorney can attempt to disprove intent and can advocate for you.

Determining the Charge

Ultimately, the judge is the one who determines whether an individual will be charged with possession or possession with intent, or a jury if the case goes to trial. Most of the time, this is a decision made at the time of arrest. So, the charging officer will look at the circumstances. The Hampton Roads possession with intent to distribute prosecution has the opportunity to amend the charges upward or downward depending on the facts, and this happens sometimes. However, usually, the decision is made at the time of the arrest.

What the Prosecution Must Prove

First, the Hampton Roads possession with intent to distribute prosecution has to prove that the person indeed had either actual or constructive possession of an illegal substance, that the substance was in fact illegal, that it is whatever they are claiming it to be, and that the person was not planning on using this substance for himself or herself but that they were going to distribute it to another person or was making it available to be sold to others.

When trying to assess intent in possession cases, officers will use undercover informants. They do this mostly to try to find out about dealers and people who are selling drugs, but they will use people who are known within the community so they have contacts and, often, these are people that have criminal charges and are trying to do good deeds to work off those charges and get a better outcome.

Escalation of Charges From Simple Possession to Possession With Intent

It is not really common for a charge to escalate from simple possession to possession with intent. Usually, if there is any possibility that it can be charged with possession with intent, they will charge it as possession with intent and then amend it downward later. It is usually listed as a possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance in violation of whichever code section is implicated.

It is possible for it to be amended to a felony possession with intent, or dropped and then brought back as a felony, but it is easier to go the other direction: to charge higher and amend downwards. The addition of intent to distribute can affect someone’s possession. For one, most of the distribution charges do not carry a first-offender status. For simple possession, the person has the possibility of keeping this off of their record if they jump through some hoops that the court orders. For possession with intent, that option is not available.  There is more to prove for the Hampton Roads possession with intent to distribute prosecution, but it can also lead to higher punishments.

Constructive Possession and the Role It Plays in Possession With Intent Charges

Constructive possession is when a person does not have drugs actually on their person. However, the person has what is called dominion and control, and is aware of the substances, so they are deemed to have possession. The most common example is someone who has marijuana underneath the front seat of their car. They are holding the drug, but they also know that the marijuana is there because they put it there, and could reach for it at any time. That means that the individual has constructive possession. Most possession cases involve constructive possession.

Potential Penalties and How a Lawyer Can Help

Possession with intent to distribute marijuana is still considered a misdemeanor if the amount is less than half an ounce. However, if it is more than half an ounce, it is a felony. Possession with intent to distribute of a controlled substance such as cocaine, or heroin is punishable by 5 to 40 years in the state penitentiary. So, instead of just one to ten years in which the person might get probation, if they are charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, they are looking at time in prison. However, sometimes the Hampton Roads possession with intent to distribute prosecution may push for higher penalties, which is where a skilled drug possession attorney can help. Individuals charged with drug possession with intent to distribute should consult an experienced lawyer that has a good relationship with the prosecution, and can fight for them.