What is possession with intent to distribute?

While many states and regions may support some forms of drug legalization, drug charges are still a very serious matter that results in hefty fines, privilege restrictions and lengthy jail time sentences. Depending on the nature of the charges, an individual accused of a drug crime may face life-altering consequences from a conviction.

It is no great secret that drug charges result in most of the harshest sentences of any non-violent crime, contributing heavily to our nation's ongoing crisis of how and where to house the enormous numbers of people we choose to incarcerate. If you face drug charges, especially if they are more serious than simple possession, it is absolutely essential that you do everything you can to protect your rights and your future.

Elements of possession with intent to distribute

While many states around the country continue to move toward politically progressive approaches to drug control and categorization, Wisconsin is still very committed to punishing drug offenders heavily. It is important to note that the state considers marijuana to be a schedule I drug, for instance.

Just as the charge's name implies, possession with intent to distribute has two components. In order for an officer to properly charge a suspect with possession with intent to distribute, the officer must have grounds to claim that both the possession of a controlled substance and an intent to distribute that substance occurred simultaneously. If a suspect only presents one of these elements at a time, then it is not appropriate for him or her to receive this charge.

For instance, if a person possesses a small portion of some drug, there is no reason to suspect that person intends to distribute it rather than consume it personally. While this scenario may result in simple possession charges, which is a serious concern in its own right, it should not result in possession with intent to distribute, as long as the amount of the substance is sufficiently small.

Contrastingly, if an officer has grounds to believe that a person intends to distribute drugs but the suspect does not have those drugs in his or her possession, then the officer should not charge the suspect with possession with intent to distribute. Clearly, the suspect does not currently possess the drugs and should not face charges for possession.

Build the strongest defense you can

No matter how or why you face drug charges, you absolutely must build the strongest defense that you can, or suffer potentially unfair consequences. Even if the evidence against you is strong, the punishment handed down is not likely to be fair in any shape or form. Drug convictions make it very difficult to obtain work or rental housing, even after a person serves his or her sentence.

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