Under federal law, the possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, or sell, the substance is illegal. To show that a defendant is guilty of drug possession with the intent to distribute, a prosecutor must prove the offender guilty of possession, intent to distribute, and possession with the intent to distribute.
Drug possession is not only defined as the act of holding illegal drugs on your person, such as in your hands. Rather, it can also mean that the controlled substance is within that person’s control. It also has to be proven that the defendant was knowledgeable of possession of illegal drugs, or having them in their control.
The government must prove what the person possessing the drugs was planning, or intending, to do with the drugs. This has to be proven with surrounding circumstances, such as the defendant was holding an amount too large to be for considered for personal use. Other indications of the intent to sell could be the simultaneous possession of drug paraphernalia, packaging materials, or large amounts of money.
The crime of possession with the intent to distribute has not occurred unless both the possession and the intent to distribute elements have occurred at the same time.
The fines and length of imprisonment vary widely depending upon which controlled substance was involved and whether the person convicted has a prior history of crime.
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