Differentiating Between Drug Possession and Possession With Intent to DistributeThe laws related to drug charges in Florida can be found in Florida Statutes section §893.13. For federal drug offenses, the applicable laws can be found in 18 U.S.C. section §841.
Generally, simple drug possession charges are applicable when the quantity of drugs found in the individual's possession is small and clearly intended for personal use. Someone who gets pulled over for a DUI with a small number of drugs in their physical control will typically be charged with simple possession.
Most of the time, charges related to simple possession of marijuana are treated as misdemeanor crimes.
In Florida, a crime is considered a felony if the related minimum mandatory sentence is at least one year of prison time. Possession with intent to distribute is a felony charge in Florida, a charge that carries a minimum mandatory sentence that starts at three years if convicted.
As a point of reference, an individual can be charged with possession with intent to distribute simply based on the quality of drugs they have in their possession. If the quantity were to be more than a reasonable person could use on their own, the presumption would be they intend to distribute.
Elements Needed in Possession with Intent to Distribute Case for ConvictionIn order for a Florida prosecutor to prove possession with intent to distribute, they must prove two key elements:
1. The accused knowingly and willfully had physical control over the controlled substance.
2. The accused intended to distribute the controlled substance to another party.
It's worth noting that intent to distribute does not have to include the presence of a financial transaction. The act of simply handing a large quantity of a controlled substance to another party is considered intent to distribute.
Also, the prosecutor does not have to prove that the accused was actually going to give or sell a large number of drugs to anyone. Under Florida law, the possession of a large quantity of a controlled substance is enough evidence to support the contention that the drugs would be eventually be distributed to another party. The prosecutor does not have to provide further evidence of potential recipients.
If you have been charged with a drug-related DUI or possession with intent to distribute in Florida, you need immediate legal representation. We encourage you to contact us at First Coast Criminal Defense as soon as possible.