The difference between possession and possession with intent

| May 30, 2019 | Firm News |

Both law enforcement officers and court officials take a dim view of individuals who flout Texas’ prohibition policies. The state of Texas has declared a large number of substances as controlled substances. These drugs range from prescription medications that people can and do abuse to popular street drugs that have no acknowledged medical use.

Unfortunately, in the legal efforts to crack down on the black market sale of controlled substances, innocent people can sometimes wind up charged with unnecessarily harsh offenses. Anyone who gets caught in possession of a controlled or prohibited substance in Texas will probably face criminal charges.

However, some unfortunate individuals who got caught with drugs for their own personal use could find themselves facing charges related to the sale or delivery of those drugs.

You can face worse penalties if police suspect you wanted to sell drugs

You probably know that selling drugs carries much more serious penalties than simply having drugs in your possession. What you may not realize is that you can face increased penalties if law enforcement officers think you wanted to sell drugs. They do not have to prove that you have ever sold drugs. They only have to demonstrate that you intended to sell drugs.

What allows law enforcement to know that you don’t just have drugs, but intend to sell them or deliver them to other people? That answer is unclear, which is why many innocent people can get charged with intent to distribute or sell controlled substances.

The amount of substances you have will matter. So will their packaging. The more individual packages of drugs you have, the greater the risk that you will face a charge related to intent to deliver. The same is true if you have scales or other paraphernalia that could be used to repackage and individually sell drugs.

What you have with you and how much you have will affect charges

Generally speaking, the more of a substance you have in your possession, the greater the ease with which law enforcement can argue that you intended to sell some of it to someone else. That is one reason why individuals face harsher penalties for higher weights of substances.

Depending on how many grams of a prohibited substance you have, you could face anywhere from a few months to 99 years in jail. The schedule status of the drug(s) involved will also impact the consequences.

Drugs in penalty Groups 1 and 2, which include cocaine, opiates and opioids, ketamine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and marijuana can carry up to two years in jail for less than a gram. Substances with lower penalty group classifications, such as prescription drugs commonly abused like Valium or the hallucinogen LSD, will carry lower penalties. An individual could have any amount under 28 grams and still only face up to two years in jail.