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Understanding possession with the intent to distribute

Possession with the intent to distribute is a serious charge that can lead to prison terms and fines. However, in order for a New York resident to be charged with this crime, three conditions must be met.

The first condition is possession. Typically, possession occurs when a person is found holding illegal drugs on his or her person, including in his or her hands, clothing or bags. Possession can also occur if illegal substances are found in a person's car or home, but authorities must show that the person knew or should have known the drugs were there. The second condition is the intent to distribute. This charge occurs when authorities can prove that a person was intending to distribute drugs. Since prosecutors cannot read the minds of defendants, they must use circumstantial evidence to establish this crime. For example, if a person is in possession of an amount of drugs too large for personal use, prosecutors may assume the drugs are intended for sale. Likewise, the presence of items typically associated with drug distribution, such as packaging materials, scales and large amounts of cash, could indicate an individual's intention to distribute drugs to others.

In order for a person to be charged with possession with the intent to distribute, prosecutors must prove that the person was both in possession of drugs and had the intent to distribute the drugs. This is the third condition. For instance, someone found in possession of a small amount of drugs is likely keeping them for personal use, not planning to distribute them. Therefore, this person should only be charged with possession. Meanwhile, individuals who have plans to distribute a large quantity of drugs but who have not yet acquired those drugs cannot be charged with possession with the intent to distribute. However, such individuals could be charged with conspiracy.

Defendants arrested for possession with the intent to distribute or other drug charges might help their situation by contacting a criminal defense attorney for help. The attorney may be able to review the case and attempt to get the charges dismissed.

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