Elements of a possession with intent to distribute charge

For some Illinois residents, understanding what a federal possession with intent to distribute charge can entail can be difficult. There are three parts, and they include possession, intention and distribution.

When it comes to possession, individuals cannot legally be in possession of certain controlled substances under federal law. While individuals can be charged for simply having drugs in their hands, pockets or bags, they can also be charged if they have control over the drugs. This means that they could be charged if drugs are found in their vehicle or home. The intent part of the charge means that individuals had an intention to do something in particular with the drugs. In order for these charges to stick, the authorities must be able to prove that element.

The distribution element of this type of drug charge refers to selling the drugs. In many cases, this element is proven when authorities find an amount that is considered to be too large for personal use. When all of the elements are put together, a federal prosecutor must prove that the defendant was in possession of controlled substances with the full intention of selling those drugs to other individuals.

A person who is accused of being in possession of a large amount of drugs could be handed possession with intent to distribute charges in addition to other charges such as conspiracy. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the defendant could face a prison sentence and significant fines depending on the type of drug involved and whether or not this was a first offense. In many cases, one of the challenges that a criminal defense attorney will make in attempting to counter the allegations was that the search that led to the seizure of the drugs violated the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights.

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