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What differentiates possession from intent to distribute?

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Suppose you have been found with drugs; it’s crucial to find out if you’re being charged with possession or intent to distribute. 

This knowledge can help you know if you’re facing a misdemeanor charge or a serious felony. Even if you’re not facing drug charges, differentiating between possession and intent to distribute in Texas is knowledge that can come in handy in the future. 

Drug possession laws

Drug possession is primarily governed by the Texas Controlled Substances Act. Under this act, “possession” is defined as having physical control, custody or management over a controlled substance. It’s essential to note that possession can be either actual or constructive.

Actual possession refers to having physical control over a controlled substance, such as holding it in one’s hand or having it on one’s person. Law enforcement commonly encounters actual possession during routine searches or arrests.

On the other hand, constructive possession involves situations where an individual has the right to control the drug, even if it’s not on their person. This could include having drugs stored in a residence or vehicle.

The intent to distribute 

One key factor is the quantity of drugs in possession. Larger quantities may indicate an intent to distribute rather than for personal use. The prosecution may argue that the amount exceeds one person’s consumption.

The way drugs are packaged can also be a critical factor. Items such as scales, baggies or other packaging materials may suggest an intent to distribute. Moreover, the presence of paraphernalia commonly associated with drug distribution strengthens the case for intent.

Building a strong defense

A robust defense against drug possession charges may involve questioning the validity of the search or arrest, challenging the evidence presented or asserting one’s Fourth Amendment rights.

For those facing intent-to-distribute charges, effective defense strategies may include disputing the prosecution’s evidence of intent, challenging the credibility of witnesses or seeking to suppress evidence obtained unlawfully.

Distinguishing between drug possession and the intent to distribute is vital for anyone navigating the legal system. While the consequences for both can be severe, understanding the nuances and building a solid defense can make a significant difference in the outcome of a case.