Understanding possession with intent to distribute

There are many potential drug crimes with which a Louisianan may be charged. One common drug charge is for possession with the intent to distribute. It may be helpful for an individual who has been charged with such a crime, or whose loved one is facing a possession with intent to distribute drug charge, to understand what, exactly, this type of charge entails.

There are typically two elements which a prosecutor must establish to prove that a person has committed the drug offense of possession with the intent to distribute. The first element is possession, which means that a person is either holding illegal drugs, or that drugs are within a person’s control. A person who has illegal drugs in his or her car or home, therefore, may be considered to be in possession of drugs.

The next element is a person’s intent to distribute an illegal drug. To establish this element of the crime, a prosecutor must establish that a person in possession of illegal drugs was planning to sell or distribute the drugs, which prosecutors often try to establish by the surrounding facts. For example, if a person is in possession of a large amount of drugs, a prosecutor may contend that there are too many drugs for personal use and therefore a person may be charged with a drug distribution crime. Other factors that prosecutors may contend point to an accused’s intent to distribute include possession of packaging materials and large sums of money.

To commit possession with the intent to distribute, a person must both possess an illegal drug and have the attending circumstances that point to an intent to distribute. Whether a person has an intent to distribute is often unclear and, understandably, is often a contested issue. A Louisianan who has been charged with possession with the intent to distribute, whether at the state or federal level, may wish to consult with an attorney for legal guidance.

Source: FindLaw, “Possession with the Intent to Distribute,” accessed July 15, 2016

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