Although California has a reputation for leading the country in drug policy reform, criminal offenses related to controlled substances are still one of the top reasons for prosecution in the state. Thousands of people every year end up arrested for possession, trafficking and/or manufacturing drugs.
The severity of the charges that people face will depend on the type and amount of drugs that law enforcement officers find, as well as what they believe someone intended to do with those drugs. Possession offenses are often classified as misdemeanors, but trafficking offenses are usually classified as felony offenses. If the state accuses someone of possessing drugs with an intent to distribute them to others, that can also lead to felony charges.
How could the police or state prosecutors establish that someone intended to sell drugs to others?
Using the details from the arrest itself
Often, the circumstances at the time of someone’s arrest will give the state everything prosecutors need to pursue felony possession with intent charges. Specific factors drastically increase the likelihood of the state pursuing more serious charges against a defendant.
Having a large volume of drugs or a broad assortment of different drugs will often increase the likelihood of the state pursuing possession with intent charges. Additionally, having drugs in small packages, seemingly for resale, can lead to more serious charges. So can having the equipment to measure and repackage the drugs even if they have not yet been divided into smaller amounts. The wrong paraphernalia or an amount that seems beyond what someone would possess for personal use could lead to possession with intent charges.
Looking at someone’s social and criminal history
If someone has a criminal record that includes prior drug trafficking offenses, that criminal record may make it very easy for the state to pursue possession with intent charges. Additionally, someone’s social interactions, including having a connection to drug traffickers or a high volume of people in and out of their home, could help the state develop claims that someone possessed drugs with the intent to distribute them to others.
There are numerous methods for those facing felony drug charges in California to defend against those accusations. From undermining the validity of a search to developing an argument that a seemingly large amount of drugs was actually for personal use are among the strategies that could help someone avoid a conviction for a possession with intent charge. Learning more about the criminal justice process in California may help people more effectively respond to pending criminal charges accordingly.