Getting caught with illegal drugs can be a very damning event in your life, as the subsequent criminal trial will likely be left in your permanent record which your potential future employers will see and may not like, as well as potential landlords who might not be keen to lease you an apartment if you have a criminal record, especially if it is drug related.
However, the situation can get a lot worse if the prosecutor or the arresting officer decide that you had those drugs with you with the intention of selling them. That is a whole another crime and it is a level higher than simple possession. So, what can you do about this situation? Well, knowing your rights and remaining calm is half the battle. You need to consult a drug crime lawyer to help you with this situation.
A Much More Serious Crime
Even though possession of illicit substances is already a serious crime, possession with the intent to distribute is typically treated as an even more dangerous type of crime, meaning that if the thing reaches the court, there is very little sympathy you can expect from the judge.
However, the law isn’t perfectly clear when it comes to the exact quantities of the substances, which means that there is a way to mitigate the charges and find some alleviating circumstances. In California, the possession with the intent to sell is usually split into two charges, both of which need to be proven by the prosecutor.
When it comes to possession, there are a few things that need to be proven in order to make the charge stick. First of all, the substance which you had with you needs to be on the list of controlled substances, and you need to know that the substance is illicit. It is fairly easy to prove when it is cocaine or some other well-known drug, but if you have a substance with nothing but a chemical formula or a vague scientific name, you may be able to challenge the charge on the grounds of not knowing.
Finally, you need to have a sufficient amount of it with you to constitute a breach of the law. Different states have different minimum quantities of illicit substances which are deemed illegal, so brush up on those numbers if you ever get in trouble.
The Intention to Sell
The second part of the charge may be a bit more difficult to prove, as the prosecutor needs to show that you had the intention to sell. Seeing how they can’t get inside your head, the only way they can prove the intent is through circumstantial evidence, which is not always the best evidence available.
On the other hand, if you are caught in the act of selling or, even worse, if you try to sell drugs to an undercover police officer, the evidence becomes a lot more concrete and substantial. Keep in mind that the word ‘selling’ in California law doesn’t exclusively mean exchange goods for money, it can be exchanging goods for anything which may have value, such as jewelry, consumer electronics, personal favors or anything else.
There are some situations when the prosecutor can decide to ask for a much stricter sentence for you. There aggravating circumstances include having a lot of the controlled substance with you during the arrest. Different administrations may interpret ‘large quantities’ differently, but if it is admitted in court, it will certainly affect the subsequent sentence in a negative way.
Along the same lines, if you are caught with some items which are used for drug measuring and packaging, such as a sensitive scale and plastic baggies, it will certainly sway the judge or the jury into believing that you did, in fact, have the intention to sell drugs. Having a lot of cash with you can also be considered suspicious, although it may not carry the same weight as strictly drug-related items.
What Can You Expect If Found Guilty?
When it comes to regular possession charges, it is fairly easy to get a drug rehabilitation sentence, rather than jail or prison time. However, if you are slapped with the possession with the intention to sell charge, in most cases, that option is off the table. That’s why you need a skilled drug crime legal representative who can negotiate the terms and try to mitigate the consequences of the arrest.
One thing you need to understand is that all drug selling charges are treated as felonies, meaning that you will be facing prison time if found guilty. The duration of the prison sentence depends on several factors, including any previous criminal offenses, particularly those relating to drugs, but also the amount of drugs you had on you and the type of illicit substance you had with you.
The best case scenario are sentences of two to four years, but with some aggravating circumstances and previous drug related charges, it can go as high as twenty or even thirty years in prison.
Drug charges are taken seriously by law enforcement, so you need to take them seriously as well and hire a good attorney who can represent your best interests vehemently and professionally.