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Busted with drugs: Possession vs. trafficking

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2024 | Drug Crimes

Getting caught with illegal drugs can be a frightening experience. The legal repercussions can vary greatly depending on whether you’re charged with possession or trafficking. Virginia honors clear distinctions between drug possession and drug trafficking.

While both involve controlled substances, the intent behind these offenses and the severity of the charges differ greatly. Understanding these differences can be crucial if you or someone you know faces drug-related legal issues.

What is drug possession?

Drug possession is the most basic drug offense. It simply means having an illegal controlled substance on your person or somewhere you have control over. This could be a small amount of marijuana in your pocket or prescription pills without a valid prescription. In some cases, possession charges may be eligible for diversion programs or treatment options.

Intent is key in trafficking

Drug trafficking goes far beyond simply having drugs. It involves the manufacturing, distribution or selling of illegal substances. The key element here is intent. Prosecutors need to prove you intended to sell or distribute the drugs, not just possess them for personal use. Evidence used to establish intent can include:

  • Large quantities of drugs
  • Packaging materials (scales, baggies)
  • Drug paraphernalia (pipes, bongs)
  • Communication with potential buyers
  • History of drug sales

The penalties for drug trafficking are typically more severe than those for possession. Possession charges might result in fines, community service or even probation. However, trafficking charges are felonies that can carry significant jail time, hefty fines and long-lasting consequences on your record.

Understanding the difference between drug possession and trafficking is essential. While both are serious offenses, the distinction between having drugs and intending to sell them has a significant impact on the potential penalties. If you find yourself facing drug charges, working with an experienced legal team for guidance can help you to navigate the complexities of your situation and to work to reach a favorable outcome.

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