Defendants can face many different drug crime charges in Washington State, from trafficking to possession and conspiracy. The criminal defense attorneys at Black Law have been defending people on drug charges since 2001. During this time, they can attest to the wide range of drug crime charges, but they’ve also seen – through experience – a few commonalities among these charges. The most common drug charges they’ve defended include: possession, possession with intent to distribute, distribution, manufacturing, and federal drug charges.
Drug possession is the crime of having an illegal drug in a person’s possession, whether it be for personal use, sale, distribution or otherwise. Washington law states that there are three ways a person can have possession of a controlled substance. A person has possession of a drug if: (1) he has actual physical control of the drug (e.g., he has drugs in his hands); (2) drugs are on his person (e.g., in his pocket or a bag); or, (3) he has the power and intent to control its disposition and use.
Possession with Intent to Distribute
Possession with intent to distribute is also referred to as possession with intent to sell or possession for sale. No matter how the charge is worded, it basically has two elements. The first is that a person must have possession of a drug. The second is that the person must have the intent to sell or distribute the illegal drug. Prosecutors attempt to prove intent by using the facts and evidence within a given case.
Drug distribution, or drug delivery, is essentially the transfer of an illegal substance from one person to another. Note that Washington law does not care about the exchange of money when it comes to a distribution charge. Consider a person that shares a small portion of his private stash to a friend. No money is given. The transaction is more of a gift. While the facts here don’t portray the person in question as a seasoned drug dealer, he can still get charged with drug distribution…in the same manner as one who delivers drugs for profit.
Washington law states that prosecutors must prove two elements for a charge of drug manufacturing to hold up. These include: (1) possession of the drug; and, (2) an intent to manufacture. The latter element is often proven by the circumstances or facts within a given case.
Federal Drug Charges
Drug crimes are often charged at the federal level, as opposed to the state level. This is especially the case when the charges relate to substantial quantities of drugs or extensive criminal organizations. The importing and exporting of controlled substances are also mostly handled at the federal level.
Those facing federal drug charges must know that there are differences between federal charges and those charged at the state level. The differences really pertain to the nature of federal courts. For example, federal courts have different rules and procedures than those used in state courts. Federal criminal charges often come with harsher penalties. Further, when compared to state courts, federal courts have more prosecutors and judges handling fewer cases. This means conviction rates are higher in federal courts.
Penalties for Drug Charges
The penalties for drug charges are indeed serious and may include years behind bars and thousands of dollars in fines. Those guilty of these charges will be guilty of a felony. The exact penalty though will vary depending on a host of factors specific to a case. Some of these include:
- The type of drug involved
- The amount of drug involved
- The offender’s criminal record
- Whether the crime was committed with a weapon
- Whether the crime was committed near a school, playground, or church
Legal Defenses to Drug Crime Charges
There are many legal defenses available for all drug charges. For example, a criminal defense attorney can argue that there is no evidence to prove one or all the elements within an allegation. Further, criminal lawyers can try and show that investigators obtained evidence illegally; and thus, such evidence should not be admissible at trial. Drug crime attorneys can also attempt to show that authorities did not have the proper justification to conduct a search or make an arrest.
It’s critical to know though, that while legal defenses to these charges exist, it takes the skill of an experienced criminal defense lawyer to make them work. An attorney with knowledge of drug crimes can find the best defenses for your specific case and work to assert them on your behalf. The Seattle defense lawyers at Black Law have the knowledge, skill, and experience to get you the right defense for your case. Contact them now and let them help!