The consequences of being caught with marijuana can range from small fines to long prison time, but the penalties for being convicted of possession with the intent to sell are usually much more severe. So, how can the police prove that a person intended to sell the marijuana in their possession? It all comes down to evidence.
How Is Possession Proven?
Possession of marijuana can be shown in two different ways: direct possession or constructive possession. If the drug is physically on the person arrested, this qualifies as direct possession. But, if it can be proven that someone both knew that there were drugs on their property and had the ability to control them, this qualifies as constructive possession. In some cases it is not even necessary to prove that this person had direct knowledge of the marijuana’s presence. If it can be shown that under the circumstances someone should have known that drugs were present, even this can be stretched to a possession conviction.
Proving Intent to Sell or Distribute
For a prosecutor, proving intent to sell can be proven through direct evidence, or by proving the mental intent to sell or give the drugs away. Some possible ways that this can be proven are:
- An actual sale to an undercover officer or witness
- The amount of drugs someone has
- Frequent visitors to the property for short visits
- Large amounts of cash on hand
- Possessing guns or other arms
- The way in which the drugs are packaged
- Possession of materials for weighing and packaging marijuana.
In many cases a conviction for possession with intent to sell comes down to the prosecution using evidence other than a direct sale or an attempt to sell to someone. This opens up many opportunities for a skilled defense attorney to effectively disprove the charges.
Penalties for Possession with Intent to Sell
In general, the consequences for being convicted of possession with intent to sell or distribute marijuana are double those of simple possession under Texas law. This shows just how important it is to defend effectively against these charges. For example, possessing less than two ounces is a class B misdemeanor and carries a fine of up to $2,000 and a jail sentence of up to 180 days. The same amount of marijuana with the intent to sell or even give it as a gift could result in an equal sentence. It could also result in a much more serious penalty of a felony conviction with up to ten years in state jail and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Where a person is caught with marijuana can also have an impact on their sentence if convicted. Some cities are now reducing the seriousness of penalties for simple possession, but for the most part the old penalties remain in effect. And, while there is some chance that Texas will legalize medical marijuana in the near future, the penalties under federal law will remain just as serious as they are now.
Defending against Possession with Intent to Sell
The task of proving that someone possessed and intended to sell or distribute marijuana lies with the prosecution. As has been shown, they must often rely on indirect evidence to prove that a person not only possessed the drug, but that they wanted to sell or gift it as well. Because of this, if a skilled defense can fight back against this evidence, the chances of proving a defendant’s innocence are much greater.
The consequences of a drug conviction, even for misdemeanor possession and gifting of small amounts of marijuana, can follow a person for the rest of his or her life. A skilled defense attorney can pick apart the indirect evidence that a prosecutor presents, keep evidence from being presented against the defendant, or show some doubt about the intent to sell. In many cases, every possible way of defending against these charges should be used, and the best defense team available will see that this happens. If you have been arrested for a drug crime, than reach out to Matthew D. Sharp today for a free legal consultation by calling 713-868-6100.