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Prince William County Drug Possession with Intent to Distribute Lawyer

Possession with intent to distribute, which is abbreviated as “PWID,” is defined in Prince William County law as possessing drugs under circumstances suggesting that the drugs are going to be used for more than just self-use. Distributing is a broad term which includes gifts, sales, and transfers of drugs to or through other people.

Initially, the police are in charge of determining whether a charge should be simple possession or possession with intent to distribute. Oftentimes charges may be upgraded or reduced between these two levels once a prosecutor is assigned to the case and takes a harder look at the evidence. Ultimately, it is a judge’s or juries’ opinion that determines the difference of these two charges if the case goes to trial. In the event that the case does go to trial, it is imperative that you get in touch with a Prince William County drug possession with intent to distribute lawyer. A capable drug attorney could build a solid defense for you.

Elements the Prosecution Must Prove

In PWID cases, the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had both knowledge and physical control over the drugs, and further intended to distribute those drugs to others at some point in the near future. A Prince William County drug possession with intent to distribute lawyer is tasked with disproving the prosecution’s arguments.

Common Ways Drug Offenses Are Charged

PWID of the substance is charged based on reference to the six different statutory schedules for controlled drugs, such as a schedule I or II controlled substance. No one knows for sure what the drug is until the laboratory report comes back confirming its chemical identity, at which point the prosecution might amend the charge to be more specific in terms of the drug name or drug schedule.

Intent to distribute affects the drug possession charge in Prince William County because even for marijuana charges, it makes the case much more serious and there is no first-offender program available. Prosecutors would be more invested in the case and would be able to present the accused as more of a threat to the community than a simple possessor.

Escalation of Drug Charges

In Prince William County, a charge may escalate from simple possession to PWID, but the reverse is more common. Most PWID charges start as such rather than being upgraded from simple possession charges. This is because most of the evidence that an officer considers when taking the initial charge is observable when the drugs are initially recovered, such as their quantity, packaging, and proximity to an abnormal amount of loose cash and/or related paraphernalia.

As a Prince William County drug possession with intent to distribute lawyer could explain, simple possession charges could and do get enhanced to PWID charges on occasion. Sometimes this is because the prosecution wants to create more pressure upon the accused to plead guilty to the lesser offense and/or to cooperate with authorities to catch other drug distributors.

Potential Penalties for Drug Possession Offenses

Possession with intent to distribute usually elevates a charge to a higher class of offense and most often results in the charge becoming a felony. PWID charges also activate specific sentencing enhancement rules if someone has prior drug convictions on their record, particularly prior PWIDs. The potential penalties are often dramatically heightened by an allegation of intent to distribute over simple possession, and there is no first offender program available for PWID like there is for simple possession.

Constructive Possession in Drug Cases

Constructive possession is when someone knows where drugs are and has control over those drugs from other people, even though the drugs are not physically touching the person. It is controlling drugs from a distance, whether the drugs are across the room or across town inside of a house or car that a person has access to. Its role in PWID cases is similar to its role in simple possession cases, which is to make it easier for the prosecution to link someone to drugs not found on their immediate person. In PWID cases, the constructive possession doctrine tends to get stretched much further because the preparation of drugs for distribution as well as the act of distributing tends to result in drugs being located further away from a particular person when they are found.

Alternative Sentencing and Diversionary Programs

In Prince William County there are no statutory diversion programs or alternative sentencing programs available for a person charged with PWID. Courts sometimes issue their own deferred adjudications for PWID charges if the circumstances are mitigated or minor, but those are rarely offered.

The only way to avoid a conviction is to get the charge reduced to a simple possession charge and successfully request a first offender program or to beat the charge through a trial or a plea deal to a different offense. Sentencing for PWID charges may become creative in terms of drug programs that are taken instead of jail time if the accused has a substance abuse problem.

Importance of a Prince William County Possession With Intent to Distribute Attorney

It is important to have a Prince William County drug possession with intent to distribute lawyer when facing these types of charges, because drug charges may seriously impact a person’s immediate and indefinite futures both inside and outside the legal system. The assistance of the lawyer is as important as the adverse consequences are of drug convictions. Drug cases are also harder for a non-lawyer to understand or effectively litigate on their own as opposed to more conventional cases like trafficking or shoplifting charges.

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