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What is intent to distribute?

Maryland residents should learn what circumstances may put them at risk for being accused of intending to distribute a controlled substance versus being charged with possession alone.

Even watching or reading news stories, people in Maryland can hear about different types of criminal charges and offenses. However, media reports do not always offer clear explanations about what specific charges really mean. When it comes to crimes involving drugs, possession of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute are two frequently heard charges. But, what really does each one mean and how are they different? How easy can it be to be accused of intent to distribute?

A look at the charge of possession

The U.S. Courts outline that possession itself may be more involved than some people know. There are different things that can constitute possession of a drug. Certainly one of these is literally having a particular substance in one’s physical possession. However, that is not the only thing that can lead to a charge of possession of a drug.

The law identifies what is called constructive possession as well. This may be alleged if a person is said to have had the ability to control a substance. In addition, anything that may suggest plans to control a substance can lead to this accusation. Possession of a drug may be charged against just one person or against multiple persons.

A look at the charge of intent to distribute

To be charged with the offense of possession with the intent to distribute, prosecutors have to prove more than just that a person possessed a particular drug. This is a part of securing a charge and a conviction for an intent to distribute offense but must be accompanied by other factors. The conscious knowledge of possession and indications that distribution was planned are also required.

It is important to note that actual distribution need not be proven in order for a person to be charged with intent to distribute. Neither does there need to be concrete evidence showing such intent existed. It may be suggested based upon the amount of a particular drug that a defendant was said to possess. If that quantity exceeded what would be considered typical for an individual to use alone, the person may be able to be accused of having an intent to distribute the drug.

Intent to distribute in Maryland

The Washington Post indicated in July of 2015 that possession with the intent to distribute is the charge associated with more incarcerations in state prisons than any other offense. This is based on data from the Justice Reinvestment Coordination Council. In all, 19 percent of people in state prisons are there for crimes related to drugs.

A recommendation for defendants

There may be subjective factors involved in a person being charged with an intent to distribute versus possession of a drug. For this reason, it is very important for defendants to seek legal help when accused of a drug crime promptly. The law is not black-and-white, which makes the input of an attorney essential.

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