A charge of possession with intent to sell or distribute controlled substances, including illegal narcotics like cocaine, heroine and methamphetamine, or similar intent with respect to unlawfully possessed prescription medications like Oxycontin and Vicodin is a serious felony charge and can carry substantial prison time, including mandatory minimum sentences in some cases, especially in Federal Court.
If you are charged with intent to sell or distribute illegal narcotics or unlawfully possessed prescription medications, immediately contact a skilled criminal defense attorney like the Law Office of James E. Silverstein.
The government must prove that you both possessed and intended to sell or distribute a controlled substance. Although the amount of the drug found in your possession can be evidence of intent to sell (as opposed to simple possession for personal use), many states have not legislated a specific quantity.
Intent can be shown by establishing sufficient “indicia of sales” under your control or possession, including certain paraphernalia. For instance, if you have a scale, large quantities of plastic baggies that are used to package the drug, firearms, vials, and large amounts of cash, this can be used by the government to demonstrate your intent to distribute the controlled substance(s), as opposed to simply possessing it for personal use.
In many cases, law enforcement will have had you under surveillance, and may have secured a search warrant. Film or testimony of numerous people coming in and out of your home, or wire tapped phone conversations of alleged drug transactions are examples of evidence that is often used to convict drug dealers involved in more extensive illegal transactions.
A charge of possession with intent to sell or distribute is a felony. Penalties vary greatly from state to state and depend on the quantity, type of drugs, offender’s criminal history, and the circumstances of the sale distribution. For example, most states will impose enhanced sentences if the sale or distribution of the narcotics, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine or other controlled substances was accompanied by the use or possession of a firearm, as well as when the transaction(s) are made within a certain distance of a school, child care facility, park, place of worship, or public housing. Most of these types of convictions in many states and under Federal law generally carry mandatory minimum prison sentences, meaning you must serve a minimum time before you are eligible for parole.
The sale and distribution of marijuana, although still considered a felony in many states, is usually not treated quite as harshly but still can carry significant jail time and fines, especially if large quantities are involved. In California, the recreational use and limited possession of marijuana for personal use became legal in 2018 after the passage of Proposition 64. However, it is still illegal to sell marijuana or to possess it with the intent to sell it unless you are approved for and possess a valid license to do so. Without an appropriate license to sell or distribute marijuana, you can generally be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. However, people that have an extensive criminal record, including multiple prior drug convictions, can still be charged with a felony.
Unlike many states, including California, marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug under the United States Controlled Substances Act. While there is some support and momentum for Congress to eventually decriminalize simple possession of marijuana at the Federal level, this has yet to occur and a Federal prosecution for marijuana offenses can still result in extensive punishment under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
If a defendant is shown to be drug dependent, he or she may qualify for an alternative or indeterminate sentence, meaning that he or she could be released from prison in a much shorter time. In some limited cases, a drug dependent defendant may receive a deferred sentence with no prison time if inpatient drug treatment is completed successfully. The government’s amenability to such a sentencing alternative is often dependent upon a sufficient showing the Defendant’s criminal defense attorney that the person’s possession was for personal use, as opposed to possession with the intent to sell or distribute the drugs to someone else.
Many of the alleged drug possession with intent to sell or distribute cases are overcharged as such, as there may be little evidence of intent to sell. An experienced criminal defense attorney like James E. Silverstein will thoroughly analyze the facts of each case, paying special attention to the issue of intent. The lawyer also examine the legality of any search and seizure conducted by police, including the validity of any search warrant, and the credibility of any witnesses involved in the case.
Call James E. Silverstein today for a free consultation if you have been charged in a drug case to ensure that all of your rights are protected and all possible defenses are explored. A skilled lawyer will leave no stone unturned to get you the best possible outcome, including, when possible, to get the charges reduced or dismissed.