Being caught in possession of illegal drugs is certainly a crime, but, you can count on being penalized more severely if it’s found you intended to distribute them.
The War on Drugs is the heart of a historic push for high penalties when convicted of selling drugs. It was meant to cut off the supply at its source decades ago, and are still on the law books today.
Connecticut is no different; the War on Drugs affected the laws here, as well. Possession of drugs is uniformly a lesser charge than possession with intent to sell for the same drugs. The difference between the two charges is smaller than you might think.
Connecticut Possession vs. Intent to Sell
In order to be convicted of possession of a controlled substance, it must be proven that the controlled substance was in your control. The prosecutor must also prove that you were aware of the presence of the substance.
Possession doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the substance in your pocket, either. If it’s in your home or vehicle, that is considered under your control and therefore in your possession.
A conviction for possession of narcotics can lead to up to seven years in jail and $50,000 in fines for a first offense.
Possession with Intent to Sell is Harder to Prove
Possession with intent to sell, on the other hand, has two primary conditions. First, this charge requires that you had possession of the substance under the same requirements as a straight possession charge.
Second, and more vaguely, it must be proven that you had the intent to sell. A conviction for intent to sell narcotics can result in a penalty of 15 years in prison and $50,000 in fines for your first offense.
Signs of Intent to Sell under Connecticut Law
There are a variety of ways that prosecutors might try to prove this condition. Having an excessive amount of a controlled substance is the most likely reason a law enforcement officer might charge you with intent to sell.
Other signs officers look for include whether you possessed packaging, communicated with potential clients, or simply had a lot of money on you.
Defenses against CT Intent to Sell Charges
Intent to sell is much less clear-cut than possession. That leads to several possibilities when it comes to defending yourself against these charges.
You Weren’t Aware of Possession
The first defense is that you did not have possession of the drugs, or were not aware of them. The legal requirement for a legal conviction is that the likelihood that the crime occurred is beyond a reasonable doubt. If there’s a reasonable doubt, you legally must not be convicted.
Your Possession Was for Personal Use
The next defense is to cast doubt on intent to sell. If there is only a moderate amount of a controlled substance in your possession, you can argue you intended to use all of it yourself. This may reduce penalties to the level of a drug rehabilitation program, instead of decades in jail.
A Connecticut conviction for possession with intent to sell can ruin the rest of your life. With such high penalties, this is a charge that’s worth fighting as hard as you can.
Good representation can be the difference between a conviction of possession or possession with intent. You have the right to make full use of the legal system to defend yourself from these charges.
About the Author
Douglas D. Rudolph practices criminal defense law with two guiding principles in mind: that you are someone who deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and that you are innocent until proven guilty. Those are beliefs that have served him well so far in New Haven and across Connecticut, where he has built a reputation as someone who truly cares about his clients and will fight aggressively for them. His work has earned him a number of prestigious awards, including landing on The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 list two years in a row, and being named to the Top 10 Under 40 by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys in 2018.