Being accused of a drug crime is a serious predicament to be in. This is especially true when it is a person's first offense, and they are not fully aware of the situation or the potential penalties he or she could face. Even when a drug crime appears to be simple or minor, it could carry with it significant consequences that could impact the accused's personal and professional life and reputation. Thus, it is important for individuals in Minnesota and elsewhere accused of a drug crime to understand the situation and how they could assert a defense against the charges.
Based on federal laws, when a person is accused of possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute it, this is considered an illegal act that can be punishable by fines and imprisonment. When assessing this charge, it is important to look at this crime in three parts. These include possession, intent to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute.
State and federal laws prohibit the possession of a controlled substance. This is not just merely the act of holding an illegal drug, such as being in a hand, pocket, bag or purse, but it also encompasses situations where the drugs are within a person's control. This can occur when it is in the accused's home or vehicle. Nonetheless, the person charged with the offense must know that the drug is present. This means that they either knowingly obtaining or received the controlled substance. Additionally, this could occur that they knew of the presence of the drug but failed to get rid of it.
Intent to distribute occurs when an individual is planning or intending to distribute or sell a controlled substance. This requires proof that the accused offender was planning of intending this act with the drugs, and the circumstances surrounding the crime prove this intent.
The crime of possession with the intent to distribute does not occur unless the elements of both of the above crimes have occurred. This means that the accused must knowingly be in possession of a controlled substance and has the intent to distribute or sell the controlled substance they are in possession of. A person could have the intention to distribute a large quantity of drugs when they obtain possession of them; however, this is not possession with the intent to distribute until they are in possession of the drugs. In this case, this could be a conspiracy or attempt charge.
Depending n the type and quantity involved, those charged with possession with intent to distribute could face serious penalties. If a defendant asserts a strong defense that challenges evidence against them, it can make it difficult to meet all these elements. Thus, a defendant could face reduced or dismissed charges.
Source: Findlaw.com, "Possession with the Intent to Distribute," accessed June 17, 2017