At the state and federal levels of government, laws are established that regulate the possession of controlled substances. When a person is charged with breaking these laws, the charges will generally be classified as either simple possession or possession with the intent to deliver of a controlled substance. At first glance, these charges may seem similar; however, the difference between the two can be substantiated when it comes to how they are handled in the courts. Here is how law enforcement agencies classify drug charges along with their associated penalties.
Guidelines for Simple Possession
In most areas, simple possession of a controlled substance charge is handled by local courts and will be classified as a misdemeanor. This charge is usually applied when a person is found with a small amount of a controlled substance. The penalties for simple possession usually include payment of a fine for a first offense; however, jail time may be served for those with a previous history of simple possession.
Possession with Intent to Deliver
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, controlled substances are classified according to the type and amount of the substance found in someone’s possession with penalties ranging from five years to life in prison. In some instances, possession of paraphernalia can be used to determine intent to deliver.
Defending Drug Charges
Whether a person is charged with simple possession or intent to deliver, the courts must prove that a person was aware that they were in possession of a controlled substance. Defending drug charges often mean proving that a person either had drugs intended for personal consumption or that they were unaware of the drugs in the first place.
Due to the complications that can arise when facing possession charges, it is always best to utilize the services of a legal professional who understands how to navigate through the system. By understanding how drug laws work and what constitutes simple possession versus intent to deliver, a person can ensure their case is handled according to the laws set forth by state and federal courts.