DC Drug Possession with Intent to Distribute Lawyer

While drug possession charges by themselves are often prosecuted extremely seriously, an individual’s charge can be escalated to a possession with intent to distribute charge, which carries more severe penalties than a simple possession charge. If you are faced with such a charge, it is crucial that you contact a DC drug possession with intent to distribute attorney as soon as possible to aid in mitigating or dismissing any consequences you may be facing. An experienced drug lawyer will also be able to ensure your legal rights are protected throughout and case ensure you know what to expect at each step of the legal process.

Defining Possession with Intent to Distribute

Under DC law, an individual can be charged with possession with intent to distribute an illegal substance such as narcotics and other controlled drugs. A person can be charged with either actually or constructively possessing the drugs. Actual possession is when the drugs are physically on their person while constructive possession is when someone has the drugs somewhere, not necessarily on their person, but they intend to exercise control over the drugs. These individuals have knowledge of the location of the drugs.

The key issue at play is the intent to distribute and that the person does not intend to have those drugs for their own personal use. These individuals will intend to sell or otherwise distribute the drugs to another person. If an individual has been charged with committing such an act, they should contact a DC drug possession with intent to distribute lawyer to help reduce or minimize any penalties.

Possession vs. Possession with Intent

A jury or the judge will determine whether or not intent existed. Initially, police officers making the arrest will have their conclusions. They will arrest someone and cite them for intent to distribute as opposed to personal possession, and bring them to court under those charges.

The prosecutorial agency in DC, the United States Attorney’s Office, makes the decision whether to proceed with charges that include possession with intent to distribute. If the matter proceeds to a trial, it is the determination of the jury or the judge as to whether or not the government successfully demonstrated through their evidence that the possession was not for personal use but was with the intent to distribute the drugs to someone else.

It is common in DC for a charge to escalate from simple possession to possession with intent. There are cases where the amount of drugs involved is small but the way the drugs are packaged or other evidence such as empty smaller baggies, scales, grinders, and other drug paraphernalia found in the person’s possession indicate the intent to distribute according to the government. Whenever someone is caught with drugs, they can be sure that the police and the prosecution are looking at all of those additional facts and other factors with an eye toward charging the individual with the intent to distribute.

Constructive Possession

Constructive possession differs from actual possession in that the evidence in a drug case, the drugs, are not found directly on the person charged. For example, someone holding their car keys in their hand or pocket is going to be considered actual possession, as that individual has the keys on their person. Constructive possession is when a person puts their car keys on the counter when they come home. It is their intent to still have possession of those car keys. The keys are not on their person, but they still have knowledge of where the keys are located. The person has the intent to exercise control over them. They have not surrendered their car keys to the community at large but put them on the counter. This is the same idea with regard to the possession of drugs. This is often the situation when dealing with possession with intent to distribute drugs, because when there is a large quantity of drugs and people rarely keep large quantities of drugs on their person.

Most people involved in drug trafficking know better than to have a high quantity of drugs on their person. Someone involved in drug distribution who keeps all of the drugs on their person faces the reality of if they are caught, they are then caught with all of their supply. If they are robbed, they can be robbed of their entire supply and if they happen to lose the bags, they lose all of their supply.

With many drug distribution cases where the individual is arrested, the drugs are located in the trunk of their car, under a seat, in a back pack, or they are located in the person’s home. The government seeks to prove that even though the individual did not have the drugs on their person for actual possession, there was constructive possession of the drugs. The person knew the location of the drugs, intended to have to control over them, and had the ability to have control over them. Under the law, that is as effective or useful as evidence as actual possession.

Burden of Proof

The prosecution must prove that the individual possessed the drugs not for their own personal use, but with the intent to distribute the drugs to another person. They must prove that intent through the actions or statements of the person charged, the actions or statements of other people around that person, or the circumstances of the case. As an example, an individual may be caught with a large quantity of drugs that are packaged in smaller amounts. The packages of smaller amounts can establish that the individual intends to sell the drugs to others.

For example, when an individual has numerous ounces of cocaine parceled out into smaller quantities that are more commonly sold such as a few grams per bag, the government can argue that those circumstances demonstrate that the individual possesses that cocaine with the intent to distribute it to others.

In other cases, the government can use the statements of the person charged that they intended to sell. The authorities may also intercept statements of the individual speaking to other people about the distribution of the drugs. When the government is not able to proceed with a statement directly from the person charged, they use the circumstances and facts of the case to demonstrate the intent to distribute making it important that a DC drug possession with intent to distribute lawyer is present to properly defend the charge.

Working with a DC Possession With Intent to Distribute Attorney

There are many constitutional concerns with any criminal case, particularly with drug possession cases. The police may come into contact with someone for something unrelated to drug possession and the charges escalate based on the police stopping or searching the individual. A person should have an experienced DC drug possession with intent to distribute lawyer to carefully examine the facts of the case and challenge anything the police did that resulted in the person being charged with possession with intent to distribute. The person also wants to make sure they have a skilled attorney with extensive experience with the courts and prosecutors in that jurisdiction to know the opportunities for avoiding a conviction, know how to attack the evidence, and know how to work with or against the prosecutors to make sure the best result is obtained.