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Guide to Drug Crimes--Part 2

What are the Different Drug Crimes?

The simplest drug crime is "possession". This is where an individual is in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance. Actual possession is just what it sounds like—the drugs are found in the person's hand, pocket, shoe, etc. Constructive possession is when a person is not holding it, but it is in a person's bag, vehicle, or some other place but on them. When possession is constructive, there must be additional evidence to show that the person had "dominion or control" over the drugs.

The next step up from simple possession is "possession with intent to sell". This requires additional evidence that the person intended to sell, distribute, or in some other way disseminate drugs. This can be shown by evidence such as large sums of money, baggies, the way drugs are packaged, or some other evidence tending to show intent to sell or distribute. Possession with intent to sell can also be enhanced if it is done within a 1000ft of certain designated areas such as a convenience store, park, or school.

"Sale of a controlled substance" is closely related to possession with intent. They both carry the same sanctions and are the same level felony. Sale charges also have the same enhancements as possession with intent charges. However, in sale charges, there must be evidence of an actual exchange of drugs for money, goods, or other services.

The most egregious and most serious drug crime is "trafficking". The two main elements in these charges are possession plus weight of the amount of drugs possessed. The weight will vary depending on the controlled substance at issue, but the more that is possessed, the higher the punishment. Trafficking charges carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence and fine.-- the lowest being 3 years of prison and a $50,000 fine all the way up to 15 years of prison and $250,000 fine.

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