Possession with intent to distribute is a much more serious crime than just possession. In many cases it is even a felony offense that can carry penalties of up to ten years in prison in addition to probation, fines, community service, drug classes, and a license suspension. As a result, it is important if you are charged that you consult with an Atlanta possession with intent to distribute lawyer to discuss your case and begin building a defense as soon as possible. A drug lawyer in Atlanta will be able to help prepare you for what you are about to face and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process.
The difference between possessing a drug and possessing a drug with the intent to distribute is often hard to prove. Courts look at the totality of the circumstances. The police don’t have to prove that a person intended to distribute or sell the drug; but they can look at the circumstances such as the drug packaging. For example, if a person has a pound of marijuana in one bag, that could be evidence they were going to smoke it themselves. If they have the pound of marijuana divided into individual packets of few grams each, that would be an indication they were preparing to sell it.
Additionally, if the courts find there were other items such as empty baggies or scales, it could be inferred that the person was prepared to divide up the substance for sale. Scales are often used by people selling drugs to help them divide it up equally. The presence of scales can indicate the person intended not just to use the drug but to distribute it which is treated more seriously.
In Atlanta, we see possession with intent charged very often in the area, specifically in Fulton County and DeKalb County after a person has been arrested with possession of a drug. When they go to court, the district attorney’s office has charged them with possession with intent in order to try and leverage that person into taking a plea deal.
Often the authorities accuse a person with possession with the intent to distribute a drug in order to make the person a little more eager to consider pleading to just possession. This is sometimes done merely for leverage by the prosecution. In fact, as an Atlanta possession with intent attorney, we often see PWID charged, even when the circumstances do not really support anything more serious than just possession.
Constructive possession can also be called inferred possession and is determined by consideration of circumstances surrounding the situation.
For example, if the police see a person on the sidewalk and other people are coming up to him, whispering to him, and handing him money. The guy standing on the sidewalk takes the money and points over towards an alley way. People then go in the alley way, pick up something, and walk away. The police determine the man on the sidewalk is selling marijuana or other drugs on the corner. He is telling people where they can find them hidden in the alley way. The guy selling the drugs in that situation doesn’t have any substance actually in his possession. It is not in his hand and in fact, it is located several feet away from him. However, he knows where it is and he is telling people how to get it. In this instance the court will say that that was constructive possession.
Many times when the government tries to prove possession with intent of a controlled substance, they take the totality of the circumstances view. This can be done by first looking at the quantity of the drug and whether they could have been using for themselves or whether it was enough to sell and make a profit. Law enforcement will also be looking for any items that could be used to facilitate a sale, such as extra small baggies for packaging the drugs or scales.
Other ways that the prosecution can prove intent are text messages that imply the sale of the drug or a lot of cash on the person that indicates they may have been profiting off of the drugs. The prosecution and the government often take the totality of the circumstances view towards establishing their possession with intent cases.
It is absolutely essential to have a possession with intent to distribute attorney in Atlanta who is experienced in drug cases to represent a person when he or she is charged with drugs. One of the worst things to do in most drug cases is to plead guilty. When it is a first offense drug possession case, there are options to pleading guilty. For example, pleading not guilty and attacking the search and seizure, or pleading not guilty and attacking the allegation that the person was actually in possession.
Those are issues that only an experienced PWID attorney can evaluate. Even if a person does not have valid defenses, an experienced attorney knows if the jurisdiction where the person was charged has options such as a drug court program, pre-trial intervention, pre-trial diversion, or conditional discharge options that allow them to avoid having a conviction.