Possession with the intent to distribute is primarily addressed by Virginia Code §18.2-248, which makes it unlawful to manufacture, sell, give, or possess with the intent to distribute a controlled substance.
In cases involving imitation controlled substances, the court will also consider whether the accused person engaged in an exchange of the substance including money or other property as consideration, and if so, whether the amount of consideration was substantially greater than the reasonable value of said substance.
If you have been charged with drug possession with intent to distribute, you should reach out to a seasoned drug attorney. A McLean drug possession with intent to distribute lawyer could fight for you.
An officer makes the initial determination as to whether to charge an individual with mere possession of a controlled substance or possession with the intent to distribute. However, once a person is initially charged, the assigned prosecutor will be able to make the determination as to if additional charges such as possession with the intent to be distributed will be sought.
It is common in Mclean for a charge of simple possession to escalate to a charge of possession with intent to distribute. There are several reasons a prosecutor might seek to escalate a charge. One is that the penalty range is significantly higher for drug possession with intent to distribute charges. Defendants have fewer options available to them when facing PWID charges than when facing possession cases.
In order for a person to be found guilty of possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the charged individual possessed the controlled substance – actually or constructively – and intended to distribute the said substance in some way. The Commonwealth must prove that the defendant was aware of the presence and character of the drug and that the defendant intentionally and consciously possessed them simultaneously with the intent to distribute the drug.
The prosecution will rely on certain types of evidence to prove a drug possession with intent to distribute case. Prosecutors may argue that the method of packaging of a controlled substance will prove that the person intended to distribute it. However, even if the substance is packaged in a manner that appears to be for distribution, there must be additional evidence to exclude the inference that the substance was purchased in the packaged form for personal use. (See, Monroe v. Commonwealth, 4 Va. App. 154, 355 S.E.2d 336 (1987)). An experienced drug possession with intent to distribute lawyer in McLean could build a strong argument against the prosecutor’s case.
There are two ways in which a person may be alleged to have possessed something – actual and constructive possession. Constructive possession may be shown by proving that the substance was known to and subject to the dominion and control of the accused. Constructive possession of controlled substances may be proven by evidence of conduct or statements of an accused person or other facts or circumstances that may show that an accused person knew of both the presence and character of the substance and that it was subject to that person’s dominion and control. Contact a knowledgeable legal professional for more information.
The addition of the intention to distribute to a possession charge results in harsher penalties. For example, persons charged with a first offense of possession of a schedule I or II controlled substance under Virginia Code §18.2-250 are facing a Class 5 felony, which means that the sentencing range is one to ten years or at the discretion of a jury or judge hearing a case without a jury, up to twelve months in jail and or a fine of up to $2,500. However, persons charged with a first offense of possession with the intent to distribute a schedule I or II controlled substance are facing a punishment range of five to 40 years imprisonment and a fine of not more than $500,000.
Also, the addition of the intent to distribute makes a person ineligible to enter a deferred disposition program under Virginia Code §18.2-251, which allows persons charged with first-time possession charges to have their charges dismissed following the successful completion of a probationary period.
In addition to the penalties discusses above, persons who have previously been convicted of possession with intent to distribute charge in Virginia or under a substantially similar law in another state, the person will face mandatory minimum punishments. If a person is convicted of a second offense, the punishment range increases to five years to lifetime imprisonment with three years being mandatory. If a person is convicted of a third offense, the penalty range increases to ten years to life imprisonment with ten years being the mandatory minimum. Individuals facing these penalties should call a McLean drug possession with intent to distribute lawyer right away.
It is crucial to have an attorney when facing these kinds of charges for several reasons. One reason is that an accomplished attorney will be skilled in examining the individual facts of a person’s case to determine the likely strengths and weaknesses of the Commonwealth’s case against the defendant. A lawyer will also be able to provide guidance through steps to take or avoid to improve a person’s chances of reaching the desired outcome. A local attorney will know the players in the game – the judges and prosecutors – and will be able to provide insight into their leanings. Lastly, a McLean drug possession with intent to distribute lawyer will be able to negotiate on a person’s behalf by leveraging any weaknesses in the Commonwealth’s case and any mitigation in a person’s case.
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