Some Minnesota residents might wonder what exactly is involved in the charge of possession with intent to distribute. The charge refers to the possession and distribution of a controlled substance. Federal law requires three elements for a person to be charged with this, and those are both the intent and the possession along with possession with the intent to distribute. Without proving that each of these elements were in place, the charge cannot stand.
Possession does not refer just to a person physically having the drugs. It can also mean the drugs are in the person's car or home. However, in general, it is necessary that the person is aware that the drugs are there. Intent to distribute may be demonstrated by a large quantity of the drugs, testimony from customers, large amounts of cash or drug paraphernalia. If the drugs are not yet in the person's possession, the person cannot be charged with possession with intent to distribute regardless of intention. However, there is a related charge of conspiracy or attempt to possess that a person in this situation might face.
If all of these elements are in place, a defendant might be found guilty. Penalties may still vary widely depending on the type of drug and other circumstances including the defendant's history.
Drug charges can be serious even if they are merely for possession or if the person is a first-time offender. They may affect other aspects of a person's life as well if a conviction is obtained. For example, they could affect a career, access to federal financial aid for education and even the ability to rent a home. However, there are a number of strategies an attorney may employ to deal with these types of charges. They could include looking at whether the search that led to the seizure of the drugs violated the defendant's constitutional rights.